Stop AKC before they harm service dog handlers
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The American Kennel Club (AKC) is currently planning an unnecessary and misleading program name change that they've been told ***will harm people with disabilities***. We don't want pet owners without disabilities to be fooled into thinking they can take their dogs anywhere. Nor do we want the human rights problem of shop owners thinking they should force service dog handlers to produce paperwork to go about their everyday errands.
What is AKC doing that has people with disabilities worried?
AKC's popular Canine Good Citizen (CGC) tests include an "Urban" version that takes place in pet-friendly public settings. It would be okay to rebrand this as a "Public Settings Test". Instead, AKC has chosen to co-opt a term from the service dog community: "Public Access Test" (PAT).
It may seem a small thing, but there's power in a name. Congress does it all the time: they use a misleading name for a bill because they know most people will judge it based on its title, rather than the fine print.
"Public Access Test" makes sense in the service dog world, where it's a kind of test that helps check whether a dog is ready to serve a person with a disability in no-pets places. Service dog PATs are actually designed with public access rights in mind. There are multiple versions from different organizations that act as internal/community self-checks for legal access readiness.
The trouble with AKC taking over the term "public access test" from the service dog community is that AKC's test is not meant to green-light access to no-pets places, but the new name would really make it sound like it does anyway. This is misleading from the start and can harm the community by confusing pet parents, business owners, and prospective service dog handlers. This particular name change is also unnecessary, since other (accurate) options are available.
Non-disabled pet parents will think they can take their dogs anywhere. Business owners will come to expect paperwork with zero legal meaning, leading to stressfully illegal access challenges for people with disabilities. Prospective service dog handlers will hear only the "shouted" title and think AKC's test is the right one to judge their dog's readiness as a service dog, even though AKC's fine print whispers otherwise.
AKC has already been warned by some of the top service dog advocates, but their folks simply aren't listening and really need to hear from you. Please tell them how you feel about this predictable mess that they can easily avoid! Let AKC know we won't ignore the harmful power of a misleading name.
To be clear, we are not against AKC itself. For more background on this PAT issue, see: https://www.psychdogpartners.org/board-of-directors/board-activities/advocacy/akc-pat
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