my coworker brings her aggressive dog to work

A reader writes:

We’re a dog-friendly workplace, and employees can bring in their dogs even if they’re not service animals. The rules are simple, of course. They can’t be aggressive, bite, or bark excessively. One coworker has just such a dog. He’s small, but barks at any dog that passes by. I’ve been told he’s nipped at people before, and he growls at us all when he’s brought into conference rooms for meetings. Our previous HR rep told her that he’s no longer allowed in the office.

Cue where I come in. She knows I have an emotional support animal (a cat, who stays at home), and knows I know the laws. So she asked me how she can get her dog registered as a service animal (which of course, are two different things). Apparently, HR said that he’s only allowed in if he’s a service dog, and if it’s made clear that no one is allowed to pet him.

Said HR rep no longer works here. All of a sudden, this coworker has started bringing her dog back in. I do not know who she spoke to, or what she has said to anyone to set this up. If she does have legitimate need, I empathize and understand. We’ve had a severe safety issue lately, so I understand if there is need. Based on the way she asked me about how to register him as a service animal though, I am skeptical.

Now that he’s back, he still barks at everyone. He just tried to attack another coworker’s dog earlier, who is gentle but still larger than him. People have stopped bringing their dogs because of him. He growls in meetings and even growled at our CEO when he finally came to meet us all today. The rule set by the previous HR rep about not letting him around other animals and demanding no one touch him has gone out the window. She lets people pet him, does not rein him in while we’re in meetings, and lets him pull the leash under the desk to nudge legs. She even let him off the leash this weekend for a good hour to wander freely.

I know the service dog laws. I know that a service dog is not legally protected under these laws if it’s aggressive and badly trained. I want to tell her this, but do not want to cause issues or drama. I’m extremely angry that she’s asked me as a disabled person how to cheat the system because she misses her volatile dog while she’s at work. Should I let my manager know that service dog laws do not protect aggressive dogs, or should I leave it alone and just recommend others complain in hopes that we can get something to change?

We have two centers. HQ in one city, and our building in another. When our HR moved on after finishing hiring, it was decided no one would take her place. We still have HR in the main city, and our site still has OPS and managers.

Yeah, that’s not okay. Dog-friendly offices work as long as there are clear rules that everyone follows, which usually means that any individual dog won’t be welcome back if she’s not well-behaved — and usually that means after one or two instances of aggression, not months of it. (And as long as there aren’t allergies in play, significant dog fears, or other problems — people’s ability to get their work done without being distracted, threatened, or unable to breathe trumps the desirability of having dogs around.)

So yes, talk to someone. Depending on how your office works, that could be your manager, her manager, whoever is overseeing this kind of thing in your office now that the HR person is gone, or the HR people at your headquarters. If you’re not sure who to select, go to whichever of those people you know to be willing to address problems and have uncomfortable conversations. If that’s none of them, then go to whichever of them is the most sensible.

Say this: “Jane’s dog is aggressive, barks and growls frequently, and tried to attack another dog. Jane doesn’t rein him in and even lets him wander freely off his leash. HR had previously told her that she could only bring him in if he’s a service dog, but since our HR person left, she’s started bringing him in again.” That alone might be enough to get it dealt with, but if it seems like it would helpful you could also add, “Jane also asked me how to register him as a service animal, so I want to point out that service dog laws would not require us to allow an aggressive dog in the office.”

If you’re dealing with reasonable people, that should prompt someone to take a closer look at the situation and deal with it. If it doesn’t, you might need to go to someone else on that list — but unless you’re in a really dysfunctional office (and not just any kind of dysfunctional, but dysfunctional in a very specific “speak no evil of dogs” way), that’s likely to take care of it.

Meanwhile, though, there’s no reason you can’t say something directly to Jane too. At a minimum you could address individual problems as they happen — for example, when her dog is growling in a meeting, you could say, “Hey, that’s pretty distracting — can you take her out of here?” But you could also say something more broadly like, “I’ve noticed Cinnamon has been pretty aggressive toward people and other dogs. I know HR had mentioned she shouldn’t come in — have you talked to someone who’s okayed it?” But if your coworker is known to be petty and vindictive or just generally jerky, it may make sense to skip her and just deal with someone above her head.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 583 comments… read them below }

  1. Emi.*

    I have been bitten by three different dogs (including one who was being overtly aggressive and its owner wouldn’t rein it in) and I would be job-hunting over this. If your company doesn’t take care of this, I really think you should call animal control the next time it nips a person or attacks another dog.

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      That is a good idea. Also, “The next time your dog bites or snaps at me I am calling Animal Control and my lawyer, not necessarily in that order.”
      My kid was chased and nipped by a dog when she was young and the owner’s response was a shrug.

      1. Kj*

        I like that. I was chased and bitten by a dog when running in high school. If a neighbor hadn’t been out walking and interrupted the attack, I might have been seriously hurt. The dog owners didn’t care that their dog had attacked me. In retrospect, my parents should have threatened a lawsuit (I was 16, so too young to do it on my own).

      2. Johannes Bols*

        That and a taser. I’m serious. A dog will kill by instinct. And use it if you feel menaced by the dog. As I mentioned in another reply, YOU ARE THERE TO DO YOUR JOB. A dog menacing you constitutes assault AND workplace abuse. Any good lawyer will fight that angle.

    2. Jesca*

      I always love the “dog office” letters, as I call them in my brain. It is just another way in which rude, selfish people show their total self-centeredness ( and I don’t care if that’s not a word!) in a way that can actually endanger others. I tell people all the time that I do not fear dogs; I fear dog owners.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Seriously. Dogs are often not bad; their owners are. And frankly, it’s cruel to fail to train your dog appropriately, never mind the danger and risks to others (which are significant and serious on their own).

        HR has already banned the dog. It would be great to reinforce their prior ruling.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Amen. Dogs do have personalities and some of those personalities are not great, but any dog can be trained to at least some baseline level of behavior.

          My estranged parents bought an Airedale that they failed to train properly, back when I was living with them. Put me off dogs for life — terrier personality, ill-trained, in an 80-lb dog. No thank you.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Some dogs aren’t trainable. Our neighbor had a very agressive large dog. It only obeyed the husband. Then one day the dog got between the wife and her kids and wouldn’t let her approach them. The dog was gone the next week. It ended up as a guard dog at a federal prison.
            The neighbor bought a new dog of the same breed. This dog was so laid back it would let us ride her like a horse.

            1. Viktoria*

              If it ended up as a guard dog at a prison I would bet that dog was highly trainable! Some dogs are more trainable than others, some dogs need more training than others and people have varying capabilities for training. Sounds like the second dog was just an easy dog, better suited to a family without significant training experience. I would wager a guess that no dog is completely untrainable unless there is something medical wrong with it. Just some dogs need very skilled and experienced trainers to handle them, and most people looking for a family dog don’t fall into that category.

                1. krysb*

                  Which means that the dog – and the owners – weren’t trained properly. That kind of behavior needed to be addressed early on, but the owners either wouldn’t or couldn’t deal with it. That’s still bad ownership, not bad dog.

                  I mean, there are dogs that are dog aggressive, stranger aggressive, and so on, but it’s the owner’s responsibility to either find adequate training to deal with the behavior, or at the very least deal with the behavior responsibly, even if it means keeping the dog out of certain situations.

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  Please see below thread. If a dog is mistreated as a puppy it is hard to unwire. My neighbor got the dog as an adult. The dog was vicious. This was not the neighbors fault but the previous owner.

                3. Dankar*

                  @Engineer Girl

                  Sorry, but that’s patently false. Abuse in the first year or so of life, even if traumatic, is challenging thousands of years of selective breeding and domestication. A dog might have longstanding issues (dog reaction, stranger anxiety, etc.), but nearly every single one can be trained given the proper resources and expertise. Rescued dogs, even the ones used for fighting, are rarely put down for behavioral issues.

                  I’ll agree that they’re not the right fit for most dog owners, but they’re not untrainable.

                4. Engineer Girl*

                  @Dankar – are you ignoring the story downthread where the dog had to be put down due to behavioral issues? They even took the dog to a trainer.
                  I’m getting weary of people that claim something can’t happen when in fact it has already happened.
                  Unfortunately, some dogs, just like some people, are too far gone for redemption.

              1. Anon anon anon*

                Yeah…. But working dogs don’t always make good pets. This sounds like that kind of case. Being bred to work means being bred for things like the following: lots of intense execise from sunrise to sunset, living outdoors, only accepting commands from one trainer, being suspicious of strangers, nipping at the heels of all large animals except the trainer (which can include humans), hunting and killing other animals, barking at any sign of danger, etc. A lot of people want a working quality puppy for bragging rights, so they can say, “This is a real working (Breed), not a show dog or a pet.” Then they subject the animal to life as a pet and expect everything to go smoothly. There is a lot of ego involved in selecting a dog. People want the biggest, strongest, smartest, rarest, all kinds of things. If only this was channeled into training the dog instead.

            2. Buffy*

              Seconded…I adopted a dog from a shelter that came from an abusive situation. His impulse control is so trigger-happy our training didn’t make much difference. (He is doing much, much better with meeting new people in the 3 years we’ve had him.) But also, even if I worked in a dog-friendly office (I wish!) I’d NEVER bring him and monitor his interactions with people, especially those who don’t know well.

              1. Buffy*

                Eek – I meant to separate the last sentence. I’d never bring him into a dog-friendly office. I also monitor his interactions with people when they’re in my house.

                1. Happy Lurker*

                  My rescue stays in the living room kennel when we have guests. I cannot take the risk, she has proven herself unreliable.
                  My other dog loves everyone and is totally fine.
                  I would never bring either into an office. I would not get any work done.

              2. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

                This could totally be my puppy. I knew her history when I adopted her and have been working hard to fix her reactions (she’s a bite first, sniff later kind of lady).

                One of the first things I did was muzzle train her with the help of a professional dog trainer who specialized in aggressive animals. I am also incredibly careful where I bring her – she is a little fluff ball so people tend to just try to reach out and touch her, or will ignore me when I say, “Please do not pet my dog.” I know that any time we are around people, I need to be vigilant and ready to protect my dog and strangers.

                There is *no way* I would bring my dog into an office scenario.

                1. Buffy*

                  Mine is a Yorkie mix, so people often feel the urge to pick him up or pet him. Obviously, I say “I’m sorry, he’s not friendly so please don’t touch him.”

                  One time was absolutely infuriating – I was at the vet’s office (even though I don’t take him 99% of the places I go, there’s one he has to!) a child kept. approaching. my dog. I explained to the child (old enough to be speaking and understood) AND the parent, “Please don’t touch him, he is not friendly.” Then when the child approached again, “Please don’t. He WILL bite you.” THE KID GET COMING OVER and the parent just shook her head everytime and shrugged. I put my dog in my lap and started to guard him. It was absolutely infuriating to me that I could be so clear and a parent still wouldn’t control their kid…especially since if an incident did happen, I would be to blame. Rant over! :)

              3. Arielle*

                Yeah, I have had my rescue dog for 8 years and he’s way better than he used to be but he’s really highly strung from whatever happened during his first year of life before I got him. I would never bring him into a dog-friendly office situation. He would be super stressed out and hate it. He’s never, ever been aggressive to people but other dogs make him nervous and he’s been known to bark or snap, which is stressful for everyone.

        2. Jesca*

          And honestly, I grew up with dogs. I like doggies:). One of my best friends is a now a vet. But with that said, if a dog is mistreated within, i think, the first 15 weeks of its life, it becomes very difficult to train. Basically like humans, neglect and abuse at a young age can create brain damage. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you become the owner of a such a dog, you should take all necessary steps to try to mitigate its temperament. If all else fails, ask your vet what to do.

          My friend had a dog named Max who was a lab. Max was amazing with kids he knew. Max was horrible with strangers. He went after a neighbor one day after he got out. They took the dog for special lessons. Max attacked the trainer on 3 occasions unprovoked. The trainer said she could not for the sake of the other owners and for herself, give Max anymore lessons. Max then bit a kid walking down the street in the face. Max was put down. He was a rescue, like all of their dogs, but had the unfortunate experience of being mistreated as a pup.

          1. Scarred Face from Dog Attack*

            I would hate your friend with the fire of a thousand suns for letting that kid get bitten. That was at least 8 chances, but likely a lot more than that, when 1 was all that dog should have gotten before being put down, or placed in a place without access to kids. It infuriates me when people give aggressive dogs chance after chance but don’t care at all about vulnerable kids.

            /Signed, why yes, my face IS permanently scarred from a dog attack, because the owner invited us down to see her puppies, despite her having tried to bite him.

            1. Agatha_31*

              I had a friend in high school whose face was permanently scarred from her own dog having bitten her. I also have plenty of experience pet sitting for dogs, good and bad, over my life. People get a full on dose of raised “are you fucking kidding me” eyebrow when they get snippy at *me* for being cautious around *any* strange dog, let alone their rambunctious, clearly out of control dog(s) that they bring into public spaces without respect for the safety of others.

        3. aebhel*

          I see this a lot with small dogs: they aren’t that dangerous, so their owners manhandle them and ignore their stress signals until they’re actually biting (if a pit bull growls at you, you’ll probably stop whatever the hell you’re doing to annoy the dog; if a chihuahua growls at you, well, a lot of people think it’s funny and keep doing it until the poor thing actually bites them). So the dogs start biting every time they get stressed because they’ve been–mostly inadvertently–trained that their other stress signals won’t be respected. It sucks for the dogs, and it sucks for everybody who has to interact with them.

      2. Anon non non*

        My cousin loves her dog. Goes on and on about how sweet her dog is. My cousin brought her dog with her to my mothers for a visit a few months ago. My son and I were there. My son (11 years old and fully aware and respectful of animals) was sitting in a chair about 15 feet from the dog. He was literally sitting there watching a video on my phone. The dog lunged at my son and tried to bite him. My cousin had the dog on leash (with a choke collar for further control) and was able to prevent the attack. She then turns to me and says “Dogs can smell fear. You need to teach him not to be afraid of animals. It’s why she attacked.” UM WHAT? We left after that. In the car my son insisted that he hadn’t been afraid of the dog until it lunged at him. I basically said what Jesca said “Dogs aren’t the problem…it’s their idiot owners.”

        1. Stellaclair*

          Pretty much the same thing happened to me, except I was three years old and within biting range. I was just standing there, and my aunt’s husky bit my face. My aunt still maintains it was my fault. I have scars on my face from that nonsense. I still enjoy dogs, but a lot of the time I don’t enjoy the owners.

          1. Middle Name Jane*

            Your aunt blames you, a three year old child at the time. WOW. I don’t think I could have a relationship with someone like that.

            1. Lurks @Work*

              That’s what I thought. That she is still able to enjoy dogs, after having such a negative experience at such a young age with them, is a testament to your character.

              Your aunt does not deserve you.

          2. Anonymoose*

            I once got nipped in the face as a kid (german Shepard) and now I know never to just bend over an unknown dog and assume they like baby talk up in their grill. I also, as it happens, am not a fan of German Shepards to this day.

        2. Jesca*

          I watched as my neighbor, covered in blood and puncture wounds from head to toe, explain to me in hysteria how “good” and “well behaved” her dog was, really, after it just literally tore apart her two other dogs (I’m talking limbs gone, ladies and gentleman) and then attacked her in front of the entire neighborhood. I would not doubt for a minute that her mentality contributed to this situation. And the whole situation is what made me realize that some people (too many) have no real concept of their own pets capabilities or temperaments. (they kept the dog BTW – bought a new puppy the next week. The week after? The puppy and the aggressive dog were both gone. Suspension of reality.)

          OP shouldn’t stand for this. To be honest, it would be a hill to die on for me. Just because the dog is small, doesn’t make it OK that she is bringing a biter to work. Aside from the lawsuit issues here, it also allows license for others with equal levels of self-centered ideas to bring their larger, more damaging dogs to work.

          1. sfigato*

            I can’t help but feel that the peoples enthusiasm for getting rescue dogs has unintended consequences. Many of the rescues I’ve known had serious issues. Generally these were manageable, but sometimes they aren’t, and the people adopting the rescue dogs often lack the skills to properly deal with having an animal that suffered serious trauma as a puppy.

            1. GreyjoyGardens*

              I agree with you. I think it’s an unintended consequence of the “no kill” movement as well as widespread spaying and neutering. There are fewer good family dogs fallen on hard times and more dogs with serious issues that require an experienced owner – and not all rescues are knowledgeable or ethical about placements.

              Not all dogs are suitable for all owners/families/situations, and not all dogs can be “mended” with love and training.

            2. Agatha_31*

              Nah, I’ve known people who owned purebreds who were unmanageable/vicious, and who went on and on and on about ohhhh isn’t he PWECIOUS he’s just a big CUDDLEBUG and he NEVER BIT ANYONE BEFORE (seriously heard that story more than once from the same dog owner about the same dog, HOW DO YOU EVEN NOT REMEMBER THAT’S THE SAME DEFENSE YOU USED LAST TIME). I get what you’re saying about shelter animals having questionable traits, but irresponsible pet owners are irresponsible pet owners, no matter the cost or breed or even species of the animal. If they aren’t going to consider the potential personality issues of a shelter dog, they’re not going to consider the potential personality issues of specific breeds or just the fluke of a specific dog being born with a specific personality, either. Consequences. They’re for other people!

              1. anonThisTime*

                Purebred dogs also sometimes get abused. I knew of a big purebred dog who was great with family and scary with everyone else. The dog had to be put down. It was probably fear aggression from the way she was treated before the family got her.

                1. Agatha_31*

                  I was talking about people who buy purebred puppies, not adopt abandoned ones. Of course one could argue that raising them so poorly that they turn out vicious and uncontrollable *is* abusive to the animal, so there’s that.

      1. Safetykats*

        I second calling animal control. And if the dog actually bites someone or bites another animal, that’s exactly what you need to do. In the meantime, I would absolutely go to HR and express your concern that sooner or later this animal’s presence in the office will lead to someone (or a legitimate service animal) being attacked – which will be an occurrence that will be out of their hands, as the proper authorities will need to deal with it.

        FYI, we have a service dog in my office. He is a mastiff. When he’s in a meeting, you don’t even know he’s there. I have never heard him make a sound (outside of an occasional quiet yawn). He pays little to no attention to us; he is here to attend his owner. The dog you’re talking about would never be able to be registered as a service animal; much better behaved animals wash out in testing.

        1. Willow*

          I’m not sure if animal control will come out if it bites another dog. There was an incident at my local dog park where one dog attacked another twice, and animal control said they couldn’t do anything unless it bit a person.

          1. Winifred*

            In Arlington, Mass. our dog was attacked 3 times by a neighbor’s dog and Animal Control came out every time.

          2. always in email jail*

            It’s worth looking into. In jurisdictions I’ve worked in, animal control does care about animal-animal bites, because of the rabies risk. They would at least want to verify documentation that the dogs are up-to-date on their vaccines

          3. BananaRama*

            It does depend on the place. The local police came to one of our dog parks due to an owner continuing to bring an aggressive dog to the park; which had bit other dogs and terrorized most everyone.

          4. Anion*

            Yes, activists have cut the legs off Animal Control in a lot of places, but hopefully the OP lives in one where they still do their jobs. It’s worth a try, anyway.

            (In case it’s unclear, I’m not disagreeing with you at all, just expressing frustration at the way so many ACs have been neutered [pun intended], and the way so many these days seem to think their job is protecting dangerous dogs rather than protecting humans and other animals from them.)

        2. Anon non non*

          There’s a guy who brings his service dog to our local library for little kids to read to. Huge dog – looks like a teddy bear. (Bernese mountain maybe??) He said that the testing is rigorous for service animals. He also said that emotional support animals and service animals are often different things. Emotional support animals offer just that and can be registered as such quite easily but that local businesses aren’t legally required to allow them. He said they often do because it’s easier than arguing. Service animals on the other hand go through rigorous training and testing because they’re offering a service to the person they’re with (seeing eye dog, rescue animal, physical aid, etc). The dog he had was able to go anywhere, including hospitals. He said that one of the tests his animal had to pass was really hard. It’s called the drop test. If someone dropped something on the floor would the animal not eat it. He was super interesting to talk to. Allison…if you could interview a person who trains animals for these types of things…that would be super interesting to read!

          1. fposte*

            Though this could be somewhat confusing as well; it sounds like a few different categories of dogs are getting conflated here. Dogs trained for search and rescue aren’t service animals, legally; nor are therapy dogs, which it sounds like what the dog you’re describing was. There is no legal category of therapy dogs, and they’re allowed in hospitals because the hospitals say it’s okay; they could do the same for pets if they wanted to and they could ban all therapy dogs if they wished. And there’s no legal requirement for testing for any of them–it’s all about the program you’re in, not the law.

            1. Dorothy Lawyer*

              Actually, a hospital/nursing home/school could not ban therapy animals if there was a disabled person who benefitted from the therapy animal. Americans with Disabilities Act.

              1. fposte*

                Therapy animals aren’t protected under the ADA, though, and what you’re describing doesn’t seem to be a reasonable accommodation–you’re not required to allow dogs just because they benefit somebody with a disability, and most therapy animals are visiting volunteers who deal with a broad number of people rather than specific support anyway.

                So I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that there’s a case like that somewhere, probably in California or another state where there’s more state legal support for non-service animals, but there’s not likely to be an automatic ADA violation in not letting Therapy Dogs Inc. come to your children’s ward on Thursdays anymore.

              2. Turtle Candle*

                It depends on whether it’s a therapy animal that’s also a service dog (or miniature horse) as defined by Title II and Title III (under the term “Psychiatric Service Dog”), or a therapy animal that isn’t. The term ‘therapy animal’ is used for both things, and one is covered and the other is not. And I’m 99% sure that therapy animals that are not dogs or miniature horses are not covered by the ADA at all.

                Some states cover therapy animals in different ways, though.

              3. Magenta Sky*

                Maybe, maybe not, depending on precisely what the benefit is. According to

                “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

                The only legal definitions for *support* animals are specific to air travel (which have the broadest definition) and housing (which is in between).

                None of the three categories have any official, legally meaningful registration or training requirements.

                The rules governing where service animals are allowed are very strict. And specifically allow an animal that is no under control to be removed.

                This is the info page from the people who enforce the ADA:


                1. fposte*

                  Interestingly, schools have regularly kept out *service* dogs that weren’t on the students’ IEP. Then this year there was a Supreme Court ruling that clarified service dogs in school are protected under the ADA and not IDEA, so the IEP didn’t control.

                  Given how freaking tough people have had it in taking legal action to get service dogs in school, I’d be surprised if anybody’d fought a case for access to therapy dogs, but who knows.

          2. Dorothy Lawyer*

            This doesn’t sound like a service dog — there is NO standardized training or testing for a service dog. There is, however, for a certified THERAPY dog — this is what therapy dogs do, they visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc.

            1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

              We have service dogs participate in our reading rover program at the library. One of them is most definitely a service dog, not a therapy dog, owned by staff and trained to perform a specific service. The program is volunteer, and the dog and owner enjoy participating.

              1. fposte*

                A dog can be both (I almost wrote “you can be both,” but probably, even on the internet, you’re not either). But they’re different things, and being a capable service dog doesn’t automatically mean the pooch would meet the standards for a therapy dog program, or vice versa.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                It fascinates me that “reading to dogs” is such a great motivator. Like, logically the dog doesn’t actually care about the story, but little kids who are otherwise reluctant can absolutely light up at the opportunity to fill the dog in on Hop on Pop.

                1. Specialk9*

                  Well the kids know that the dog isn’t thinking they’re stupid, the way humans might, because most dogs just love love love.

                2. PhyllisB*

                  When my youngest daughter was learning to read, it was a real struggle for her. Me too, because I would tend to get impatient with her. I finally came up with the idea of her reading to our dog. Worked like a charm!! I can still see them sitting in the den floor. My daughter would have one arm around the dog while she read. I would listen from the next room, but would not intervene unless I could tell she really needed help. Her reading improved by leaps and bounds, and of course the dog loved the attention. Now it’s “A Thing.” I’m so glad. Also funny to think I was ahead of my time.

                3. Tundra*

                  I do this with my dog once a week at a local school. Not only do the kids (7-12 years old) light up when they see the dog walking down the hallway, but they actually practice their reading throughout the week to prepare for their weekly reading session with the dog. The teachers told me that since we started 5 years ago, they’ve documented most kids in the program improve their reading by 2-3 grade levels through the semester when they’re a part of the program. I’ve trained my dog to “pick” a book from a selection the student brings (he touches a random book with his nose), so they really do believe he wants to hear that story. It is absolutely fascinating to observe!

                4. JessaB*

                  They also do reading to dogs at shelters, it helps kids with reading and socialisation skills and it also helps scared and abused dogs calm down. It actually works both ways.

            2. AL*

              There is no standard training for service dogs but they are required to be under control and must perform a task that helps mitigate a disability. I’m sure you know this but it’s important to point out.

          3. Anion*

            Yes, there’s a BIG difference between a service dog and an “emotional support” or “therapy” dog. People who play the “emotional support/therapy dog” scam* like to pretend they’re the same thing, but they are not.

            It was an “emotional support dog,” which its owner misrepresented as a “service dog,” that attacked a fellow passenger on a plane lately. There are numerous cases of “ES/T” dogs attacking REAL service animals, or other people, because their owners lie and abuse the ADA in order to force their dogs on the rest of society. I’ve seen several of those “heartbreaking” news stories about how some child is going to lose their “service dog” because of a recent pit bull ban, and each of those stories, funnily enough, mention things like neighbors complaining that the dog was running loose in the neighborhood or being aggressive toward passersby. What people fail to realize is that by definition an animal that escapes and runs loose is NOT a trained service dog, because service dogs do not do that; they’re by their owners’ sides 24-7.

            You can buy a “service dog” vest online for like $20. It’s infuriating, and I’m tired of seeing these lying scumbags put the rest of us in danger just so they can intimidate us all with their pets.

            (*NOTE: When I say “people playing the ’emotional support/therapy dog’ scam,” I am of course not referring to people who legitimately have their dogs registered and trained because they have a legitimate medical reason for doing so; I’m talking specifically about the *scammers* who buy vests online etc. so they can evade bans. My comment[s] should in no way be taken as criticism of legitimate es/t dogs and/or their owners.)

            1. Specialk9*

              I agree with your anger at scammers… But there’s is no “registration”. It’s the Wild Wild West still. Hopefully that changes soon.

            2. Close Bracket*

              ESAs are allowed on planes in the cabin. Whether her dog was a legit ESA or not, I don’t know, but the owner was using a right that she has by law for an ESA.

              1. JessaB*

                The issue is that whether it’s a service animal or an ESA, the law specifies that anywhere it is legally allowed to be it must be under control and non dangerous. It can’t be barking for no reason, it can’t be biting or chasing, it needs to be able to sit still and do the job it’s there for. No animal, trained service or ESA or Certified Therapy animal is required to be permitted anywhere when they are not behaving and under full control of the person they are serving. The law is very clear on that.

          4. JKP*

            It would be interesting to read an interview from someone who trains service animals. Someone in my family got a service dog this year. One of the things I found fascinating is that the dog won’t go to the bathroom with its vest on. So when she takes it out to go potty, she has to remove the service vest before the dog will go.

            1. JessaB*

              Yep, because you don’t want the dog going in places it shouldn’t, like a restaurant or something. When an animal is working, it’s working. That’s why you also have to engage with them when they are “off.”

        3. Lindsay J*

          Heck, I would go to HR and Legal (if the company is large enough to have a legal department) and point out that the dog’s presence in the office will lead to someone or another animal being attacked, which will likely lead to a lawsuit and an insurance claim (and possibly worker’s comp?) that will cost the company a lot of money.

          I know homeowners policies do not like vicious dogs, I cannot imagine that whatever insurance the business carries will like them either. If the incident doesn’t get their coverage pulled (I don’t know what business liability insurance covers, but I wonder if it covers animal bites if it is not a petshop or other environment where animals would be explicitly expected?) it would at least raise the cost a lot.

          And the fact that people know the dog has acted aggressively in the past, it was actually banned from the office, and then it came back I think probably sets up a pretty strong claim for some sort of negligence. (IANAL, obviously, but looking at it as a layman I would assume this would be the case).

          1. Frank Doyle*

            Not to derail, but homeowners’ policies that don’t cover dogs don’t cover particular breeds. Unfortunately it has nothing to do with the viciousness of a particular dog.

            1. krysb*

              For example, in my state, only one homeowner’s insurance company will insure households with dogs on the dangerous dogs list. It has to be noted, though, that dogs that have the high bite rates tend to be small, such as Chihuahuas and dachshunds, are because they aren’t reported enough.

              1. Jesca*

                Plus the “dangerous” dog list applies to dogs who can do the most damage, not necessarily the ones that bite the most. People kind of miss that a lot. For instance, I watched my grandfather’s pit eat through a couch once during a violent thunder storm LOL. Their chihuahua but plenty and maybe once chewed up the bottom part of a door frame. That is the difference. It is the level of damage, not the rate.

                1. Anion*

                  Exactly, and that’s the way it should be. Insurers are concerned with the amount of money a claim could cost. A chihuahua bite might cost $10 for a Band-Aid and some Neosporin. A pit bull bits can cause millions of dollars in hospital bills etc., if the victim survives.

                  Dog bites and dog-bite-related injuries cost insurance companies over $600 MILLION in 2016 alone. That was not a bill run up by chihuahuas. You bet insurance companies are going to look at the numbers and adjust their rates and policies accordingly, just like how they’re going to charge me more for insurance if I live in a flood plain or decided that it would be cool to hang guillotine blades from my ceilings with thread.

            2. fposte*

              It can, though; a quick look around the ‘net finds people who’ve been told their insurance won’t reenroll them if they still have the dog after somebody’s filed a dog-bite claim against the policy, and I’ve found at least one place that advertises they’ll insure you when other companies won’t.

        4. Agatha_31*

          Yeah, I love (not really) how many people with bad animals think this is some sort of “get out of jail” card. As the OP said, it’s insulting as hell to her and other people with actual disabilities, that they view it that way, and insulting twice over when they attempt to manipulate the system in place for people like OP who NEED (well behaved) service animals, not people who WANT their (terribly behaved) normal animals with them at all times.

          Honestly, I’ve always wondered about dog owners. I know some good ones but there are soooooo many who seem offended at the idea they can’t bring their dog everywhere. When did this happen? You don’t see it with cats or snakes or whatever, it’s just dogs. Which yeah, need more attention, buuuuuuuuuut isn’t that KIND of the point of sitting down and asking yourself “if my schedule is such and such, am I really ready to responsibly own an animal whose needs require that schedule to be not that?”

          1. Teacher*

            Well, you do see it with cats in that people think it’s acceptable to let their cat roam all over the neighborhood. But it’s true they don’t usually bring them in your house.

        5. Gadget Hackwrench*

          Whomever gets bit, if someone gets bit, will almost certainly have to fill out a report when they go for medical attention. I don’t know what stat OP is in, but in NY it’s non-optional. I had to fill one out on my OWN CAT when he bit me. They won’t take “it’s not his fault” for an answer. Frankie was literally on a bad drugs trip from a veterinary error AT the vet, and I had paperwork to prove it, but I STILL had to fill it out. Thankfully it’s his only strike so he is still with me, but I’ll bet you this dog has strikes.

    3. just another day*

      This situation is ridiculous and no aggressive dog should be allowed in any office workplace.

      I’m wondering if there is an opportunity for education about how to approach a dog you don’t know? Dog people know these things, but non-dog people often don’t and it is important for people (and kids!) to know how to interact with a dog – especially one they don’t know. I’ve seen a few of these guides, some of them are posters. This particular one is written for a young audience, but it is helpful to non-dog adults too and keeps both humans and the dogs safe.

      1. Specialk9*

        I like this kids book: Stephanie Calmenson’s
        “May I Pet Your Dog?: The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs (and Dogs Meeting Kids)”

        My kid has two dogs and not enough fear of strange dogs (or the family ones yet, though we monitor closely and are training him – the kid, that is), so we read him this book. “Always ask before touching a dog.” And I always take the chance to teach kids who come up to my dogs, about asking and how to pet them.

        We also teach the kids not to touch the top of a new dog’s head (dominance), stare in the dog’s eyes (same), and to walk away if it’s growling or panting (a sign of stress, if it’s not hot out).

        1. swingbattabatta*

          Thanks for the recommendation! My two year old LOVES dogs and always wants to pet/hug them. I’m constantly trying to restrain her from walking up to random dogs and hugging them around the neck, and that could go wrong so quickly.

      2. aebhel*

        I think there’s two different things at play here: yes, if you’re going to interact with a dog, especially one you don’t know well, you should know how to approach strange dogs. But it is ultimately the owner’s responsibility to make sure that the dog doesn’t bite even if it is feeling stressed or threatened. Or to run interference so that strangers don’t freak it out.

    4. Polaris*

      This isn’t a bad idea for a consistently out of control dog, but do be aware that this will nuke from orbit any relationship you have with your coworker, and from what OP’s written I’m doubting that won’t bleed over into her work performance both independently and with OP.

    5. penty*

      This would also most likely ruin bringing dogs to work for the entire office. So because of one employee, without even talking to her or HR first, your option is to ruin the pet friendly office for everyone?

      Seriously, 99% of jobs you cant bring a dog. Dont work at one if your response is to make it known that you will call the “animal police” instead of talking to someone first. If a coworker yells at you, is your first threat “I will call the cops next time”? No.

      Ugh, some of you sound like horrible coworkers.

      1. SunshineOH*

        Well no, but if a coworker bit me, I’d certainly call the police.

        Sorry, but a desire for a “dog-friendly office” doesn’t outweigh everyone’s right to a safe environment. If it’s important to the company they have an obligation to enforce their own rules.

      2. Purplesaurus*

        Woah, no. OP isn’t the one ruining anything. It’s the terrible dog owner she’s writing in about.

      3. Cuddles Chatterji*

        This coworker has already demonstrated that she holds her privilege to have her dog in the office to be more important than the safety of other people. This is not about “ruining the privilege” for others, it’s about making the privilege safe for all by not allowing this aggressive dog in the workplace.

        1. JessaB*

          And this office has also decided that the right of this coworker to have this dangerous dog is more important than coworker safety. This is a liability. At this point I’d be making it absolutely perfectly clear to HR and management that they have a responsibility to both other dogs and employees when they choose to have a dog friendly office. And if they are not going to exercise that responsibility to immediately remove the dangerous animal, I will exercise it for them by going to animal control and a lawyer to both sue the employee who cannot control her dog, AND the company who knew about it – n.b. having told her previously not to bring it in, for both actual damages due to biting/scratching, and emotional distress due to being constantly scared that the dog would do just what it did.

          They are on NOTICE that the dog is dangerous. They have previously prohibited the dog. The dog came back with no proof of special training or any kind of behaviour change that would lead an average person to think change had occurred, the behaviour still happens and the office management is ignoring it. That’s pretty much the definition of liability there.

      4. Lindsay J*

        But this woman has been talked to. She was told not to bring the dog in ever again. Just because the HR person who said that is gone doesn’t mean that that discussion (or any others that lead up to that one) are gone. She has more than amply been warned.

        People shouldn’t need to be asked nicely or told to not bring in a dog that snaps at people to work. That should be common sense like, “Don’t punch your coworkers.”

        And even if my coworker has never been explicitly told not to punch me, if they do it I’m calling the cops. I don’t care if it gets them arrested. I don’t care that the company could handle in internally without calling the cops.

        The coworker is perfectly happy working in an office with dogs. They are not happy working in an office with an untrained, aggressive dog, with an owner that does not give a crap about reigning it in apparently. If this leads to the end of dogs in the office for anyone, it would be the fault of the coworker that is flouting the rules by bringing in this dog after being asked not to, not the OP for protecting themselves and other coworkers against it.

        The only bad coworker here is the person who brings in an aggressive animal, and continues to bring it in after being explicitly told it was not welcome there anymore.

        I mean I agree that the OP should talk to HR and/or a manager first about this, and that a warning, “Hey, if your dog does that again I’m calling animal control,” might be enough to snap the coworker out of it and make her reconsider bringing this thing to work without having to actually do it. But it’s not like the coworker doesn’t know she’s doing something wrong and putting people at risk here.

      5. Detective Amy Santiago*

        HR already banned the dog and it’s back. So it’s not like this coworker doesn’t know what she’s doing is wrong.

        1. Univ of dog*

          Jane reminds me of a child. Mom isn’t around to see what I’m doing, so I’m going to. Mom is the HR person in this description. I would be leery of saying anything to the co-worker because if you or someone else calls animal control, the OP will be accused of it.

          The university I work for has started a strict no dog policy on campus period, except for certified service docs & you have to have the documentation. If you have the vest and no documentation, you’ll be told to take it home. It’s not because of dogs bites, etc. It was because faculty, staff and students were bringing their dogs in and letting them relieve themselves all over one of our new building and would call up housekeeping and ask them to clean it up. Heard one faculty member bought a dog in and left it in the classroom all day without walking it. We have quite a few emotional support dogs that the students & faculty bought on campus. Not allowed now, because a few were too lousy to carry a grocery bag. Still wouldn’t trust them to wipe up the floor though.

          1. fposte*

            Are you in the U.S.? Because there isn’t an organization that certifies service dogs in the U.S. Your university might be asking for trouble.

      6. Sarah*

        Are you trolling???????

        Safety trumps the privilege of a pet-friendly place. And even in pet-friendly places, it is reasonable to only allow well-behaved animals.

        1. Oceans*

          I work in a dog-friendly office, and having a well-socialized, well-behaved dog is the number one requirement to bringing your dog in. Plenty of my co-workers have dogs that don’t meet those requirements, and their dogs do not come in. It’s a privilege, and it’s one we all enjoy and would like to keep around.

          Finally, as someone who does bring their dog to work everyday, I absolutely side with calling animal control if the dog is violent toward another person or dog.
          No dog should be allowed to endanger the safety of other people or other dogs.

      7. LBK*

        Uh, no. Bad dog owner is the one ruining it for everyone, not the OP for reporting bad dog owner. Dogs also have no entitlement to be in offices; unless you’re at a pet shelter, they are not part of the business. Dogs don’t get preference over humans unless the dog is going to take up OP’s job when she leaves.

        1. OverboilingTeapot*

          And an office that allows pets has a HUGE obligation to monitor the policy closely and make sure every dog isn’t a safety issue or a disruption. If a workplace is offering dog-friendly as a perk, they need to stay on the ball. That’s just the deal.

          1. LBK*

            Totally agreed. If you’re going to decide to become a dog-friendly office, you have to be willing to enforce it as a privilege, not a right.

      8. MashaKasha*

        In addition to everything that has already been said, people have already stopped bringing their dogs because of Terrible Coworker’s aggressive dog. So guess who’s ruining the pet friendly office for everyone.

      9. Jesca*

        See. This is what I mean. Can’t trust all owners to make sensible, rational decisions. penty is unknowingly making the case for dogless work places.

      10. I Love Thrawn*

        Why is it always the SANE person who is considered “ruining” everything when the BAT-CRACKERS crazy / horrible ones are off the hook for their behavior?

      11. AL*

        No. The person bringing an aggressive dog is ruining bringing dogs to the office. Instead of being a responsible dog owner and only bringing your dog to the office when it is fully capable of handling the space, this owner is pushing her dog on a space that is it not well suited for. Don’t blame people for worrying about safety.

      12. Work Wardrobe*

        This would also most likely ruin bringing dogs to work for the entire office.

        So? It’s not a right, it’s a privilege, and if it interferes with work, health and PERSONAL SAFETY, then get rid of it.

      13. Magenta Sky*

        If a coworker threatened me, my response would not be “I will call the cops next time.” It would be to look them in the eye while dialing 911.

        Bringing a dog that has *already* been banned for aggressive behavior to work is *never* acceptable. When it’s allowed *back*, HR already knows, and has chosen to allow it.

        It’s hardly the *first* time.

        The company didn’t hire the *dog*. It hired the letter writer to do a job, and that job is being interfered with by an aggressive dog. That the dog owner wasn’t sent home *immediately* when she showed up with again after it was banned means the company is a bigger problem than the dog.

      14. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        Wow. No. The dog has already been banned once because of bad behaviour and irresponsible co-worker brought it in again anyway. OP is not the one ruining the pet friendly office.

    6. Anon Accountant*

      This. I’d call animal control the next time the dog nipped at a person.

      Management needs to be aware of this also. The poor dog may be uncomfortable in that office but staff can’t have a dog nipping at them or their dogs.

    7. krysb*

      I agree, and I have three dogs, all of whom I would bring to the office in a heartbeat if it were allowed. Of course, I have stringent standards for how my dogs have to behave in public. Because they are very large dogs, their behavior has to be on point for everyone’s safety, including their own. People who do not properly train ensure the behavior of their pets enrage me

  2. Brandy*

    I don’t want my dogs around other people just because something could happen. The best dogs can snap. I have a great Chihuahua, but the vet wont cut his nails anymore because hes so nail weary. We do them at home, with him in a muzzle, cone and towel and being held down. My pets are safer at home then being out. Plus I’d worry someone would let him out the door. My other pets are really good as Jack is when his nails aren’t being done, but you never know. If they bite me, that’s one thing, a stranger, now its litigious and the pet could be taken by animal control.

    1. NW Mossy*

      I have a scar on my face from where my much-loved dog bit me after he’d had a major stroke and went into panic mode. It’s one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had, what with the combination of the injury and the emotional turmoil of knowing my dog wasn’t going to make it.

      I don’t have a dog now, and while I’ll still happily pet another person’s dog if both human and dog are OK with it, the experience taught me a hard lesson about how even the best dog can have a bad day. Culturally we now view dogs as much closer to people in terms of relative value, but our affection for them can sometimes cause us to lose sight of the fact that they’re still animals and don’t think the way humans do.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know my Pig was a cat, not a dog, but yes, this is exactly the way I ended up in the hospital. She had never ever bitten me like that before (just a warning nip or a love chew). It was full-on defensive biting because she was scared and in pain and dying. I’m so sorry about your doggo.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            Brandy, I know what you mean. My cat can definitely get a nippy little bastard…or he used to be when he was younger. These days, he doesn’t have the energy to nip most of the time (he’s 17 years old, suffering from kidney failure, and probably won’t be with us much longer *sigh*), but even now, if he was really scared or in pain, all bets are off.

        1. Brandy*

          I am sorry about both your pup (NW Mossy) and your cat (Elizabeth). I have been injured many time at home due to them being startled, scared, my cat Benny has seizures, the cats running from the dogs (in bed up my face ((I was laying down)). They can hurt easily not meaning to. My Carl is a 58 pound lug that can trip you up getting in front of you.

        2. AJK*

          I have a scar on my chin from where my cat bit me. I realized in retrospect that he’d been signaling (tail twitching, unusual meows, etc.) that he was becoming overstimulated and I wasn’t paying proper attention because he was such a laid back cat, what could happen? Boy, did I learn the hard way.
          But I had him for twelve years after that – I learned to pay attention to his signals, and I always kept a close eye for those signals when he was around other people. He was very affectionate, and loved attention to a point, so it was easy for people to push him past his limits without thinking, just like I had. He was a wonderful cat, but he wasn’t a stuffed animal – if he was stressed more than he could handle, he’d act on it. As his owner I felt it was my job to keep everyone safe – obviously to make sure he never hurt anyone else first of all, but also to keep him feeling safe and not threatened or anxious. He never bit me or anyone else again, he was a big loving doofus 99% of the time, and I miss him.

          1. Lison*

            Back when I was a teen we had a wonderful cat and one day I had a bunch of friends over and one of them was playing with her and rubbing/tickling her tummy. After a while I said to him “if you don’t stop doing that she is going to scratch you” she was getting over stimulated, but he kept on going and I warned him again. He kept going and guess what he got (lightly) scratched and bitten. Then he started complaining. I told him I’d warned him twice so it was totally his own fault and everyone else agreed and told him to shut up and deal with it. He was sulky for the rest of the day but didnt mention it again. Of course he had ignored the signals the cat was giving him too. I like to think he learned a lesson on paying attention to warnings that day.

          2. SignalLost*

            Hell, I learned that with my chinchilla, who weighs less than two pounds. If he gets up on his back feet, watch out. Their charming offensive maneuver is to shoot pee at you.

      2. Elder Dog*

        Actually, I’ve been bitten in the ER by people (and not just a little nip) who’ve had a stroke and are in panic mode. When there is pain and fear involved, people and animals don’t react on a species related basis. Some individuals bite. Some flail. Some howl. Some lay quietly, panting. Humans do all of these just as often as dogs do.

    2. Synonymous*

      My dogs are the sweetest, most loving boys, but they do not belong in an office. One likes to eat paper, cardboard, and sometimes shoe laces and the other would spend the whole day begging to sit on my lap. There are only certain types of dogs who can handle office environments, for many reasons.

      1. CMF*

        When I’m in by myself which is often, I’ll bring my dog to hang out with me because she loves to run laps around the office and bark before tiring herself out to lay at my feet. It’s great during the winter when she doesn’t spend much time outside due to the cold. She also inspects all garbage pails, which unfortunately for her are emptied by me before she is given free reign. It’s this exact behavior that prevents her from being allowed in the office when others are present.

      2. Fiennes*

        I have a dog who can handle offices–he has gone to work with my dad many times, and will happily chill under a desk or chair for hours without barking–but I’m very aware that he’s unusual in that regard. People have to be realistic about their pet’s capabilities, not to mention the animal’s needs. This woman’s dog sounds like it’s angry & miserable all day; it would almost certainly be happier at home.

        1. Oceans*

          I bring my dog to work every day, and you described her to a T. She’s perfectly content to lay under my desk and nap, only emerging when someone comes by to pet her. There’s a woman on my floor who’s afraid of dogs and gets anxious when dogs make eye contact with her–my dog is happy as a clam to lay under a blanket while she’s around.

          I would be *furious* if there were a rogue dog like LW described in my office. Way to ruin a privilege for everyone else.

      3. VelociraptorAttack*

        One of my dogs is a giant, very sweet dog who would spend her entire life sleeping if she didn’t have to eat and go to the bathroom. That said, she’s not a good office dog. I’ve taken her in before when needed and she just sits next to me and tries to get in my lap. Keeping in mind that she’s a 160-pound mastiff and not at all a lap dog, I spend more time trying to keep her (and her drool) off of me than doing anything else.

        Our other dog, who is squirrely at home is a dream in an office, she just curls up by your feet and sleeps all day. Taking one without the other isn’t much of an option so neither get to come to work anymore.

      4. AJK*

        Yep, this. My dog would alternate between shredding cardboard, begging to sit on my lap, begging to sit on other people’s laps, and trying to lick people’s faces. I’d never bring her into the office, she’d disrupt the whole place. She’d think everyone was there just to fuss over her.

      5. Kelly*

        My dad’s weimaraner would likely be freaked out having to go to work with my dad. He would be deprived of the couches, including the ones he’s not supposed to be on, his feline napping buddy, and windows to watch the birds and squirrels. He’s a thief who will take anything he can get a hold of from a desk, counter, or table. He almost stole the sweet potatoes as they were cooling off at Thanksgiving.

      6. As Close As Breakfast*

        Yeah, neither of my dogs would make it at work with me. One of them would bark at every new sound she heard. The other one would be the biggest problem though… because she LOVES EVERYONE way too much. She would not be able to handle that there were so many new people around. New people that have never received the pleasure of loving her. New people that NEED KISSES. There would be so much tail waging, body shaking, happy-tinkling that absolutely no work could possibly be done by any person in the building all day.

    3. Lindsay J*

      Yes. My dog is a perfect angel. Like she has not growled once in the 5 years I have owned her. I have heard her bark literally twice. She tolerates pretty much anything anyone does to her (though she does not like getting her nails clipped or getting a bath, but all she tries to do then is run away).

      I still get a little nervous when neighbor kids pile around her, and make sure they know to approach her one at a time and safely. I don’t think she would do anything, but she is an animal with her own mind and instincts and if scared or annoyed or hiding an injury she could well do something I would consider out of character one day.

      I don’t go out of my way to avoid having her around people or other animals of course. But I do try to avoid situations (like being surrounded with tons of little tiny hands coming at her face from every angle) that are out of the norm or could upset her, and I watch her body language around other people and animals. And I acknowledge that there is a always a chance that any dog can bite. I mean, every dog that has ever bitten someone has done it for the first time – before that I’m sure most of their owners considered them a perfect sweetheart that would never do anything like that.

      I also do know that she has a strong prey drive, and would not bring her to a dog friendly office because of that. I’m not sure a little puppy running around would seem all that different than a squirrel to her.

    4. Adlib*

      Well, exactly. I had a family dog while I was growing up who never bit anyone and was super sweet, and he ended up nipping the back of a kid’s leg who we happened to be playing with (I think he thought we were being threatened since we were running around). My parents were horrified and talked to the child’s parent who was gracious and did not sue or anything.

      I also have a friend who decided to get a German Shepherd puppy while parenting 2 kids with a disabled spouse who couldn’t work so she works 2 jobs. Fortunately, she opted to put her in puppy boarding school to learn good behavior, but until that happened, it was a mess. I still don’t think she knows what she signed up for as the dog digs up the entire yard. Don’t just get a breed because you think you like it. They all have different needs and personalities. (Sorry, rant off.)

      1. CityMouse*

        My sweet dog growing up once accidentally bit my hand when I was giving her a treat. She was going blind and we hadn’t realized that it had gotten as bad as it was.

        1. Rainy*

          I had a pet rat who became a pretty bad biter as she aged because she was so nearsighted that she thought everything was food and would grab it to drag it away so she could eat it, and the grab+drag motion would really savage a finger. She always felt super bad afterward (apologetic hand-grooming etc) so it was hard to blame her, but I still got a bunch of bad bites till I was able to consistently remember how to approach her that would let her know the hand was not a baby carrot.

      2. YoYoYo*

        Don’t just get a breed because you think you like it. They all have different needs and personalities. (Sorry, rant off.)

        A million times this.

        We had a german shepherd/chow mix rescue that was just awesome. Oh, how he loved us (and chewed some furniture and dug some holes). He was great with the kids, he was a snuggle bunny, he had a righteous sense of humor and was very trainable. He was a little OVER protective of the house, but did listen to Stand Down commands, and we usually put him in another room before guests he didn’t like would arrive. When he first came to the home we had a couple of weeks of him trying to become the alpha dog, until he figured out the Lab we also have was too stupid to know what was happening, and the new dog decided he was alpha by default – they were then inseparable best friends.

        Then we had another kid.

        You know what chows (the breed) are? They are pack-concious animals. And the new baby, in our dog’s mind, was a puppy. And puppies are corrected by older dogs, usually with nips.

        He nipped once at the crawling baby, when the crawling baby startled him from sleep. Didn’t make eye contact, immediately put himself in time out (the dogs knew “time out”), and generally worried himself sick. We retrained, taught him the baby was above him in the pack, consulted with expert trainers, etc.

        Then a year later, he did it again. This time making contact. Not scar-inducing contact, teeth scrapes if you will. We had to rehome him, after 4 years with us.

        He went to a single woman, no kids no other pets. He was an excellent, loyal guard dog. He was also an excellent family dog – until the family expanded and his breed-specific behavior overrode his training. We couldn’t trust him, so he had to go.

        Bringing it back to the original post: I wouldn’t bring the Lab to work either. He is the opposite of aggressive, but he’s the equivalent of a 2-year old child. Just with more hair and worse gas.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          My sister had to do this with her dog (also a chow, IIRC). She was a pretty good dog, not that well-behaved but never aggressive, and was OK with my nephew when he was born. However, one day when he was learning to crawl he started playing with the dry food in the dog bowl. The dog freaked out that he was stealing her food and nipped him on the cheek. My sister found a single college kid who wanted a dog to go hiking with and found her a new home.

  3. Katie the Fed*

    It’s well beyond the scope of this column, but I’ve seen a lot of abuse of service dog/ESA loopholes lately. Really badly behaved dogs on airplanes and other places – one took a dump right in the middle of an airport and its owner just kept walking. I’d really like to see the regulations tightened up – it’s hurting everyone who legitimately needs them when people like OP’s coworker tries to sneak in her badly behaved dog under service animal regulations.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Co-signed. It’s really really frustrating and makes it harder for folks with actual service animals to obtain the accommodations they need.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        Wtfiwwy covered a story of a service PIG that somehow got on a plane… only for it and the owner to be kicked off because the piv as incontinent.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I saw that! I think the difficulty really comes up with ESAs, which aren’t the same as service animals and have fewer legal protections hunt many people don’t understand the difference and get the law confused).

          But for every trained service animal, there’s some jerk with an incontinent pig who wants to abuse disability antidiscrimination laws for their own selfish preferences.

          1. Snark*

            I am intensely skeptical of the ESA concept. If your ESA is actually capable of meaningfully intervening in your PTSD episode or whatever, it was trained to do so. If it’s just a dog that makes you happy when it’s around, literally every pet dog is a friggin’ ESA. My dog makes me happy, that doesn’t mean she gets to ride on the plane with me.

            1. Justme*

              Yep. My kid has some anxiety issues, and her cat helps calm her down. But that’s just what she does being a cat, not because she’s special (and note that this is not a comment on the LW’s ESA, but the abuse of the system in general).

              1. Specialk9*

                I agree that there is abuse of the system by selfish people. But if your daughter’s anxiety was raging agoraphobia, and traveling with her cat was the only way she could do it, that seems legit to me. Obviously you would need to use the correct term, but that’s a real need served.

            2. k.k*

              I’ve looked into getting my dog registered as ESA when my landlord was considering no longer allowing pets, but didn’t because there seems to be such a loose definition and lack of regulation of the places who offer registration. There are some with more stringent requirements, but really they’re all over the place. My dog really does help me prevent and come down from the severe panic attacks I get on occasion, but I can see how almost anyone could find a way to get their pet registered.

              1. Snark*

                “I’ve looked into getting my dog registered as ESA when my landlord was considering no longer allowing pets”

                I sincerely hope you did not move forward with that.

                1. fposte*

                  But it sounds like this is an example of what ESAs are actually for. She just didn’t need the ESA designation prior to that.

                2. Snark*

                  Leaving aside the question of whether a dog that is not trained to provide any specific type of support should qualify as an ESA, I don’t think it’s kosher to try to loophole your way out of a rule change as a tenant. I get that moving when you have a dog sucks, but if the policy changes and it doesn’t work for you, you move.

                3. fposte*

                  @Snark–but ESAs aren’t required to be trained; that would be a psychiatric service dog. An ESA’s presence is part of managing a diagnosed disorder. If k.k has an anxiety disorder that’s mitigated by the presence of her dog, as long as her doctor agrees that’s pretty much a classic ESA situation. It doesn’t make any difference if the prescription was only made necessary because of a change in policy or if you’re moving your ESA in to a no-pets building from the get-go.

                  I’m presuming that you don’t think a person with a service dog should have had to move out and guessing that you have some concerns about the whole concept of ESAs more than this particular instance. Which, as I said, I’m on board with, but as long as it exists k.k’s situation would seem to be pretty much its intended use.

                4. k.k*

                  To be clear, I have a diagnosed metal health issue that my dog is trained to help manager. It’s one coping mechanism that is part of my overall mental health care plan. I’d just never gone through the paperwork process of ESA registration, because I make sure to live in pet friendly buildings where that isn’t necessary. A lot of people use animals in this capacity without getting the registered, because like I said, the process can be kind of a mess.

                5. Snark*

                  “To be clear, I have a diagnosed metal health issue that my dog is trained to help manager. It’s one coping mechanism that is part of my overall mental health care plan.”

                  Ooooooh. Okay. That’s totally different than what it sounded like in your first post, and I apologize for jumping to conclusions – it sounds more like you’ve got a psychiatric service dog, and yeah, no, that’s a whole nother ballgame.

                  And yes, fposte, thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt there – I definitely do not believe someone should be required to move to accommodate a trained service dog that’s part of an program of treatment. My reservation is exclusively with the more nebulous concept of ESAs, which I don’t think is defined or regulated strictly enough and which causes no end of trouble for people like k.k.

                6. Mello Biafra*

                  Why should the landlord get to upset the happy status quo? All’s fair in love war and property transactions.

                7. Specialk9*

                  Even if the dog weren’t officially registered, k.k’s use of the animal is completely kosher – severe panic attacks helped by a dog? That’s cool.

                  On the other hand, I was tight with my apt property manager, who gave me the nudge-nudge advice that if I really wanted a dog, just call it a service dog, then she legally couldn’t deny me. (Btw, but true.) *That* is abuse of the system – people who just want a pet claiming it’s therapeutic.

                8. Snark*

                  @ Mello Biafra: “Why should the landlord get to upset the happy status quo?”

                  And when you give 30 days’ notice, what are you doing? It’s a business relationship. Landlords are allowed to change their policies, and given how much damage animals can do to a rental property, they may decide to ban pets if they feel the costs of having them are too high.

              2. AL*

                Just so you’re aware, you don’t need to get your ESA registered. When applying for housing, if your dog is an ESA, you only need a letter from a qualified medical professional documenting that you indeed benefit from one. Being in pet friendly housing can be a lot easier since then you aren’t dealing with the access issues that come along with landlords who want to fight against accommodations.

              3. Close Bracket*

                There is no such thing as registration. You have to go through your doctor, who will essentially write a prescription for your dog.

            3. fposte*

              Yes, I think it’s too amorphous a concept right now–the demonstrable benefits of having a pet near you would seem to apply to everybody, but there’s no useful definition that makes it more limited than that.

                1. fposte*

                  In practice, everybody with an internet connection and a credit card has a sufficient disability to get an ESA. That’s not that limited. (The top hit in Google for “emotional support animal” weirdly brags that the support letters they generate are “100% HIPAA compliant.”)

                2. AL*

                  Yes, but most landlords scrutinize letters. For people with valid disabilities who need access to housing there are huge barriers in place to using those letters. Many landlords refuse to accept letters, refuse to accommodate, and may require more proof. While I understand the concern over fake letters, the barriers that disabled people face with ESAs and service dogs is horrific. The Fair Housing Act does not see any difference between ESAs or service dogs and the letter / documentation required is to not just give proof for housing but to also protect the privacy of disabled people.

                  Also, if a person does use a letter online and they don’t meet the definition of having a disability the only way they could fight having their letter being denied is to file a discrimination complaint, which would require them to prove they have a disability. There are checks and balances. Even in this case with the employee, the employer is well within their rights to ask for medical and training documentation showing the dog is required to mitigate a disability. If they deny it and the employee fights it, she will have to demonstrate in court that the dog is trained to perform tasks to mitigate a disability.

                  I have a binder with documentation of the 500+ hours my dog has been trained and can demonstrate at any time that she is trained to perform tasks. I also have letters from my doctors, yes doctors, to document that I have a disability.

                3. fposte*

                  @AL–I don’t remotely disagree with you about the barriers. The problem is that, as usual, it’s harder for people in severe need to surmount them than people with resources and a will.

                  I don’t think fake service dogs are that big a problem, but paper-mill ESAs in some parts of the country? Yes, I think they might be.

                4. fposte*

                  @fposte–I may need to take that latter part back–I just found an article quoting a service dog trainer in Colorado saying that service dog fraud *is* a problem there.

                  I think it’s legitimate to note that in theory these things have restrictions, but in reality, they don’t always pan out. I mean, you can argue that speeding is illegal, but that doesn’t mean that nobody speeds.

                5. AL*

                  Yeah. Fake SDs are a huge issue but more so is the issue with sd handlers bearing the brunt of the harm. We deal with a terrible amount of crap to have our dogs with us. I want people to fight this much to make our lives better, but instead people are more worried about fakers.

                6. fposte*

                  @AL–and I’m totally with you on that too. To be fair, I think if the post were about somebody with a service dog getting an obstacle thrown in her way the conversation would skew more toward that; to some extent it’s because the person in the question is playing fast and loose with the designation that we’ve gone down the conversational road about questionable application.

              1. Close Bracket*

                > In practice, everybody with an internet connection and a credit card has a sufficient disability to get an ESA.

                Nope. Everybody with an internet connection and a credit card can get a worthless ESA certificate. To get a real ESA, you have to be diagnosed by your doctor. Then they essentially write a prescription for an ESA.

                1. fposte*

                  Online health providers can legally generate documentation for ESAs, though; that’s where the racket comes in. There’s no requirement for the provider to have seen the patient personally. Then there’s the fact that a lot of landlords and airline personnel aren’t going to question the nature of the certificate in the first place.

            4. AL*

              Please don’t assume you understand the complexity of the relationship between folks with PTSD and ESAs. My service dog was first my ESA as we went through SD training and even though she was not trained when I adopted her, she was immediately helpful in my daily life. The whole point of an ESA is that they are not task trained to mitigate disabilities. Instead, she helped me get out of my house, feel safer in public when we would go hiking (because I actually started hiking after I got her) and just generally made my life better. Yes, many people people benefit from their dog but most people do not have a disability that meets the legal definition of what constitutes a disability.

              What my SD did for me as an ESA continues today but now she also works full time as my service dog and is tasked trained to mitigate my disability in other ways. She is also trained for public access.

              1. fposte*

                But a person doesn’t have to meet an ADA level of disability to be eligible for an ESA–they just have to meet a standard sufficient to get a letter from a health care provider.

                I’m not against ESAs, but right now there’s a paper mill problem with them.

                1. AL*

                  Please see my above comment in the thread. Yes, people may be able to get fake letters but they are often unable to actually prove they have a disability in court.

              2. Specialk9*

                Yeah, I 100% support your need for that dog. It’s a perfectly legitimate use of a service/therapy dog.

                1. AL*

                  *whispers* service dog. Therapy dogs are amazing but do different jobs. Obviously a dog could fill both roles if an SD handler uses their SD as a therapy dog.

                2. Feline*

                  (replying to AL below because we’ve reached max reply depth)

                  Actually, legit therapy animal groups say that if your animal is a service animal, they do not also certify them as a therapy animal. They say it’s unfair to ask them to be both at once.

                  I’m looking into going into therapy work with one of my cats and learned about the “no dual roles” rule just recently while looking reading all the fine print of the certifying organizations.

                3. AL*

                  @feline yeah i know about that. Many SD handlers are upset about this and are fighting it. There are orgs who are not that restrictive. The training standards are set by each organization so there are places that allow SDs to have a dual role.

                4. Specialk9*

                  I’m using ‘/’s because I know I’m ignorant about the subtleties, even though I’ve researched it, and because it’s legit confusing now bc there is no regulation body or rules.

                  I’m just glad your animal is helping you!

                5. AL*

                  There are rules. Service dogs are tasked trained to mitigate a disability for their handler. Therapy dogs offer emotional comfort / support to people, but have a handler that takes them places to do that work. Their work is guided by the organizations they are part of and who certifies them to do that work. Therapy dogs are not covered by the ADA whereas Service animals (dogs and miniature horses) are.

            5. Magenta Sky*

              Calming someone suffering from a PTSD panic attack is actually a *support* animal function. (It’s listed as an example in the page on the subject.)

              But yeah, there’s a ton of abuse, and between fear or lawsuits and fear of confrontation, jerks get away with it far too often.

            6. sap*

              A dog trained to alert when a PTSD/seizure/anxiety attack is starting is technically a service dog–it has received training to perform a specific task. It’s not an ESA (well, it might also be an ESA, but that’s not why it can be taken everywhere).

              I’d like to push back on “ESA is just what dogs are for everyone” though. The abuse of ESAs by selfish people who like their poorly trained dogs is horrible and unacceptable, but there genuinely are people with severe agoraphobia/an Autism spectrum brain/probably some other stuff who are essentially incapable of social interaction by themselves because it makes them too anxious, but who are able to do these things because having an animal with them means they aren’t alone. Those aren’t necessarily service dogs, but that dog also doesn’t just “make them happy” the way having a pet makes a neurotypical person happy. That’s like saying, like, xanax isn’t really a medication for anxiety because it just makes people with anxiety happy, and it makes everyone happy, so it’s not really treating anxiety since it does the same thing for everyone.

            7. Close Bracket*

              An ESA is neither of those. They don’t provide a service. An ESA provides support to someone with a legit mental illness. You need a doctor’s note for your animal to be considered an ESA. Saying it makes you happy when it’s around is really dismissive.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes! And real service dogs are well-trained and -behaved. Dogs fail out of service dog training programs if they don’t have the right temperament. And yet people try to slap a service vest on their yappy, snappy dogs and bring them amongst people!

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s the usual thought, but unfortunately it’s not always true. There are crap service dog programs and self-trained service dogs (not saying those can’t be excellent, just noting that they’re not from a school), and there are also service dogs whose handlers haven’t kept up discipline. A dog can be a real service dog and still be badly behaved.

          1. Snark*

            It’s not always true, but in my experience there’s a lot fewer real working, trained service dogs that are crap than ESAs.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, no argument there; it’s just that the notion that if it’s behaving badly, it’s a fake is unfortunately not true.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                If it’s not under the owner’s control, it doesn’t matter if it’s fake or not. That’s the big exception on ADA requirements for letting service animals in.

        2. AL*

          Even well trained service dogs have bad days. Being a service dog handler is a very complicated experience. You have to negotiate the public and your dog, which can experience burn out or have a bad day.

          1. fposte*

            There was a great kids’ book a few years back by a woman with a guide dog, who noted garbage day was the bane of her existence.

            1. AL*

              Very windy days are annoying. My dog is ok for the most part but sometimes the wind hits her ear weird and she has a moment, which is normally just a moment of flailing. She also lets out tiny awoos when she is excited to get off work.

              1. fposte*

                I think it was also Sally Alexander, the author of that book, who talks about people thinking of guide dogs as if they were little machines that zoom people around. But they’re still dogs.

                1. AL*

                  Totally. Its sonething I had to remind myself when we first went out because she had to work up to being able to work full time in public. Learning to accept that let me also accept the silly shit she does because most people dont even notice. My sd is a pit mix so they are already shocked that she’s so good.

      3. Kelly*

        The whole service and emotional support animals is something that comes up very frequently in libraries, especially public libraries. I work in an academic library and so far in the five years I’ve been here, we haven’t had any incidents with aggressive animals and their upset handlers/owners.

        The other loophole where people abuse the ESA is public transit. I’ve become very skeptical of service dogs riding the bus because I’m not so sure they are service animals. If they are, then the dog is poorly trained and the handler/owner also is the same. The one example recently was a rather obese yellow lab wearing a vest that looked like it had been purchased online and its handler who was unable to control it.

        1. Blah*

          People do that in my city, and it’s super weird because pets actually are allowed on public transportation. There’s no need to maintain the act.

      4. JessaB*

        I hate to say it but you have to prove up and pay for a handicapped parking permit, they need to start requiring registration even if it’s literally just carrying an Rx from a doctor. With the ability to buy a service vest on the internet for nearly nothing, it’s become a problem.

        And I understand WHY disabled support groups do not want do this but the registration would be a tag like you get for parking, it wouldn’t have any information a parking permit wouldn’t. It could be a tag on their harness or lead (if they’re not the kind of dog that uses a rigid harness – dogs that pull for instance don’t usually.) You could even get them at the motor vehicle bureau like you get your handicapped permit. Dogs that come from service animal organisations would come with the tag. Tag would be valid for the life of the animal (no need to keep re registering,

    2. Snark*

      Absolutely this. If you’ve got a genuine need for a service dog, I of course think that’s critically important, but there’s a LOT of bullshit about “well, he’s my emotional support animal,” and no. At minimum, your animal needs to be specifically trained as a support animal for me to consider it to be one.

        1. Yorick*

          I feel like that’s different than pretending it’s a service animal to take it to a restaurant or grocery store (or work). Just leave it at home!

          1. Helpful*

            How is it different? Landlords have the right to animal restrictions. It’s lying either way, trying to circumvent the established rules for their own convenience.

            1. Yorick*

              I don’t think they should do it, but it makes more sense to want a dog in your home enough that you pretend it’s a service animal. But why lie about the dog just so you can take it to Wal-Mart?

            2. Still Lurking*

              Thank you. I’ve worked in property management and I saw all the doctor’s letters of lies to keep people from paying $75-100 in rent/mo for a dog in a luxury high rise. Had those same doctors been giving out opioid prescriptions that casually, they would be in jail right now.

              1. Frozen Ginger*

                Tangential, but I don’t think anyone’s been litigated for over-prescription of opioids yet.

                1. A grad student*

                  They have- there was a documentary on netflix about it. It was super sad, because the doctor was really doing his best to help out people who were in lots and lots of pain, but wasn’t doing due diligence to keep away drug seekers. Some of his former patients talked at the end about how much pain they were in now because nobody would prescribe them enough to get rid of their pain the way he had.

                2. Nerdling*

                  They do, and relatively frequently. It is just usually done as a Fraud Against the Government case because they’re generally defrauding Medicaid/Medicare by doing so. It also generally doesn’t gain traction until at least one patient has died via overdose. There have been three tried and sentenced in my area in the past couple of years that I can think of off the top of my head (one of whom killed at least two patients prior to being informed of the investigation initially and one more patient afterward but before their DEA number was revoked).


                3. Laura*

                  ” I don’t think anyone’s been litigated for over-prescription of opioids yet.”

                  Many doctors have lost their licences after being ‘litigated’. [sic]

                4. EH*

                  Yeah, the last time my GP gave me serious pain meds, I got a MASSIVE lecture about using them as directed, not mixing them with specific other meds, etc. She told me docs are losing their licenses when patients hurt or kill themselves by taking other drugs that interact badly or by taking more at one time than is safe, so she is giving all her patients very strict warnings when she prescribes pain meds.

              2. Specialk9*

                Where I am, dog tax is $500/month in rent, and most places only allow one dog. I love my dogs, but some cities are cool with dogs, and this ain’t it.

                I still wouldn’t claim therapeutic animal status without a real need, because only terrible selfish people do that.

                But I’m also not going to pretend like I can evaluate others’ hidden needs at a glance. I know too many people with PTSD or physical/mental issues that are hidden from casual sight. I’m not God (thank all deities, what a hard job that would be) and am going to let people do them.

                1. OverboilingTeapot*

                  For the most part I don’t think a service dog designation–even a legitimate, necessary one–should get you out of a pet fee/pet deposit, but $500 is insane.

                2. Specialk9*

                  It’s not a literal fee, it’s that the difference in cost between housing costs for pet free and pet friendly housing. (Though many mid-price places allow one pet – which is a crazy rule; a dog alone is usually miserable and inclined to bark and scratch, two dogs are often fine.) I would save a lot on housing if I didn’t have dogs.

            3. Natalie*

              They don’t have that right, actually. If someone has an ESA they have a right to keep it at home. The landlord’s desire for a pet free building aren’t protected.

          2. ENFP in Texas*

            It’s not different – it’s lying about an animal in order to get around rules that you don’t like.

        2. Leatherwings*

          Yes, my neighbor had an ESA that obviously wasn’t trained for a long time and it was awful – she’d leave it alone overnight and the poor thing never stopped barking when it was alone. I felt badly for the dog (and for myself for having to listen to it).

        3. Emily S.*

          Yes! A lot of people in the residential complex where I live have done this recently, as far as I can tell. That’s aside from the folks who sneak their pets in, and then try to hide them, and never even acknowledge them to management or neighbors.

        4. Kj*

          The problem is sometimes that is legit- having a dog or cat at home can be very soothing and the animal is kept at home, I have no problem with them being an ESA for someone who benefits. But ESAs are not usually trained to be in public. I personally think that service dogs should be allowed in stores and businesses because they are trained to do a job, whereas ESAs should be kept at home or in locations that are pet-friendly, as they have no special training. But I have no problem with someone with, say, an anxiety disorder who benefits from a cat using a letter to be allowed to have a cat in her apartment- but I don’t think that cat should come out into public, as it is not trained for that.

            1. fposte*

              That actually is the case right now. ESAs have no right to be in public–they are only legally protected at home and on airplanes. Service dogs and horses are the only support animals with the right to be in stores and businesses.

              1. Kj*

                Oh, good to know. I have to admit, I find it confusing- I’m most familiar with therapy dogs, as a friend and ex-co-worker has a therapy dog who is the best trained dog I have ever met. The dog passed all the therapy dog tests and they were pretty tough tests.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  And sometimes people will confuse the issue further by insisting to, e.g., store personnel that their ESA is a service dog–sometimes accidentally (people with ESAs don’t necessarily know the difference either!) and sometimes deliberately. Since so many people have been trained rigorously that Service Animals Can Go Anywhere, it will usually make the retail person back down even though they don’t actually have to accommodate ESAs.

                  An acquaintance of mine manages a restaurant, and she has occasionally flushed these situations out by asking what the animal was trained to do–which is one of the questions that you are allowed to ask under the ADA. People can still lie, obviously, but this sometimes catches people by surprise and they inadvertently reveal that it isn’t a service dog at all. (And people who do have service dogs know exactly how to answer this; my MIL can rattle off what her guide dog is trained to do in an instant.)

              2. Anon non non*

                Oh how I want someone to walk into a store while I’m there with a service horse for no other reason than that would be the coolest thing to see.

                1. oviraptor*

                  There are only 2 questions that you can ask a person with a service animal

                  Is this (dog, etc) a service animal?

                  And , as Turtle Candle mentioned, what task has it been trained to do.

                  That’s it. No other questions.

                  Only true Service Animals have the legal ability to go everywhere. ESAs do not. That is up to how the owner/manager etc wish to handle it. But, that does not mean that if the animal is misbehaving (barking, bothering other patrons, begging for food in a restaurant, relieving themselves and so on) you have to accept that. You have the right to require the animal be removed from the premises (applies to both Service Animals and ESAs). Many people forget this option exists.

                2. Specialk9*

                  There is a reality show star (who despite the genre seems like a quality dude) who loves to take ridiculous pictures with his mini horse. Somehow his pictures show up in my feed, and crack me up.

                  You’re welcome.


              3. JessaB*

                Which is kinda annoying for paralysed persons who still have capuchin monkeys to open doors and grab stuff. But those are rare and have never been officially on the list of “proper” service animals.

                And honestly ESAs on airplanes should be in carriers, I know people need them to fly but if they’re not under control, they need to be.

        5. The Other Dawn*

          Yup, a friend of mine did this. Yes, she does take medication for anxiety and depression, but by her own admission it’s well controlled and it’s just so she can keep her cat.

          1. Starbuck*

            I empathize with this. Pets are family, and it’s super frustrating how common it is for landlords to either forbid them completely, or charge ludicrous amounts of “pet rent” on top of the typical deposits and fees. Wanting your pet to be able to live with you is not the same thing as wanting to take it anywhere and everywhere in public.

            1. Laura*

              When we rented with two cats, we found multiple landlords who were perfectly fine taking our cats on, even though there was no outside space with many apartments. The people lying about service animals are scum ruining things for all of of us responsible animal guardians.

        6. Anion*

          Yes, which is infuriating. I know of several people who chose a specific complex because of the animal ban, only to have someone bring in their “ESA” dog which then intimidated, frightened, and/or attacked residents and their children–even, in one or two cases, literally breaking out of the apartment in order to go after another animal or person. And there’s nothing they can do about it except move.

          Other residents of those buildings have a right to peace of mind and safety, and to enjoy the common areas they pay for.

          1. JessaB*

            Actually no. Every law that allows service animals or ESAs anywhere, requires that they behave. Even a fully trained seeing eye dog ™ from the Seeing Eye can be thrown out of anywhere if it bites, scratches, goes on the floor, chases anyone.

            Not that they ever would. They’ve been training guide dogs for the blind since there was such a thing. Seeing Eye is the organisation that supported the first lawsuit about guide dog access, they’ve been doing this forever literally.

            There is an amazing movie about them (can’t remember the name) that shows one of the original court cases where the opposition basically stuffed up the courtroom with a massive obstacle course and the dog in question just calmly walked their person up to where the lawyers were waiting at the bar. They won the access case in that instance and have been winning them ever since.

            1. Anion*

              Yes, but landlords etc. are not always aware of those laws, and my point was that they’re using faked “ESA” status to circumvent restrictions in the first place and what that does to the other residents of the building, not whether or not they can eventually get the dog owner evicted–after months of terror and/or an attack.

              They shouldn’t be in a position where they could be attacked in the first place, because they specifically chose to live in a place where that wouldn’t happen.

        7. Magenta Sky*

          There are specific regulations about support animals in housing rentals, and the definition is a lot broader (and easier to take advantage of, legitimately or not). They’re not really getting around landlord restrictions so much as using a specific piece of law.

          (There’s special regulations about support animals on airplanes, too, and that definition is even broader.)

          1. Anion*

            “They’re not really getting around landlord restrictions so much as using a specific piece of law.”

            Sorry, I’m confused. What difference does that wording make? They’re using that specific piece of law to subvert landlord/property rental restrictions and regulations; they’re basically telling a lie so they can bring their animal into a housing complex which otherwise would not allow said animal. That’s “getting around landlord restrictions,” isn’t it?

            It doesn’t matter that there’s a law that allows people who legitimately need a service animal to have one, if the people using that law do not legitimately need said animal but just think they should be exempt from having to follow the rules because they’re special.

            Or am I misunderstanding you?

      1. OhNo*

        Seriously, I hate that so much. I’ve known quite a few people who have joked about having their pets registered as ESAs or service animals, and I have to be the fun-killer and shut it down every time.

        It’s the same as people who park in handicapped spots in the parking lot because they’re “in a hurry”. It’s just taking advantage of something that’s meant to help disabled people.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This. And I don’t want to derail and it also may have been done further down, but I wish there was a good way to register and tag service animals so people who actually need them can have them and selfish fakers cannot do this.

          As for the jerks who park in the handicapped spots, I dream of an electronic tag of some kind in the plate or the hanger that corresponds with a tag in the spot. If drivers don’t have both, then the tag in the spot will immediately make the car start honking and flashing. Or notify law enforcement, LOL. Or even better–send them a coded message and they can mail that $300 ticket to the driver.

          1. Irene Adler*

            Nice idea! I’d like the electronics to actually prevent the vehicle from pulling into the handicapped spot should it not bear the correct tags. That way the spot remains available to those who truly need it.

            1. Laura*

              Irene, that would be ideal! I would like large fines imposed on people abusing the spots which would pay for the supervisors of the parking lots.

          2. Samata*

            I worked with a woman who parked in the handicapped spot each morning because her grandmother was still “with her” spiritually and her grandmother needed to park close. I have no judgement of people’s beliefs in the afterlife; I actually take some comfort thinking my pap can sense my accomplishments and fun moments….

            I do hold judgement with them using a deceased handicap tag to take the only single space in front of our small building for themselves, when they do not need it for themselves.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              That’s somehow an inadvertently depressing commentary on the afterlife — I’d have thought being freed of a mortal body would mean her dear grandmother would no longer need the close parking spot ;-)

            1. LavaLamp*

              My parents who both retain handicap parking tags get letters every other year or so asking if they’re still alive, and if they’re dead to hand over the tag. Kind of a blunt way to do it.

              Depending on state (the ones in mine have an expiry year on them) she’ll have to stop using it eventually.

              1. JessaB*

                Yes, I have to renew my permit every I dunno it’s five or ten years now, because my disability is permanent. Those with temporary needs it’s usually six months to a year and the tag is a different colour. In Ohio permanent tags are blue and temporary ones are red. It was the same in Florida. But it’s not onerous I think they cost 3.50 and there are dozens of agencies where I live that can pay that for you if you don’t have it.

          3. bohtie*

            as an able-bodied person who, back when I drove, regularly drove disabled friends and relatives around in my car and would use their hanger to park them, that sounds a little bit Big Brother for my tastes!

            1. Anion*

              Yeah, I’ve pulled into handicapped spaces to drop people off, because it’s the closest spot and I don’t want to block traffic (and then I immediately back out, of course). I’ve pulled into the handicapped spot to pick up someone who injured him- or herself and could have a hard time walking farther into the parking lot, too. There are a lot of reasons why someone might need to use that spot to turn around or whatever. (Not to mention the difficulty of actually installing such a device, etc.) I’m not a fan of the idea of my car literally not being able to turn into the spot.

              1. JessaB*

                Yeh I am not a fan of anything that can control a vehicle because it can be hacked. I’m also not in favour of something that would trigger a camera if the tag isn’t present (mostly because I don’t like the potential big brother aspects of knowing where my car is at all times, which is what would happen when the parking spot registers that my car has a tag on it.)

                But there’s a huge difference between pull in, drop someone, immediately pull out, and park there. Although I maintain people should’t be using them for U turns and drop offs, at least you’re not really claiming the space. And someone who is injured is entitled to a temporary permit if it’s expected to last long enough to make it worth getting.

        2. Specialk9*

          I’m convinced that it’ll be like “organic” designation soon enough, because it can’t keep being so unregulated.

          Wait, uhh … ok never mind. In 3-8 years it may get regulated.

      2. Lora*

        Ordinarily I’d agree with you but…my mother has an ESA which is a little Bichon. It is more or less trained in that it doesn’t bite people and it’s housebroken, but it’s too dumb to learn Sit or No or Shush (believe me…I tried). And yet, it is really genuinely helpful to her: my mother is elderly and has the beginning stages of dementia. This dog forces her to stick to a schedule for sleeping and eating so she doesn’t forget, forces her to put on clothes and go for a walk three times a day so she will turn off the TV and get exercise. She lost 17 pounds in a year from the exercise alone. Elderly folks often lose appetite or in the case of dementia, forget to eat and drink water on a regular basis, then pass out from low blood sugar or dehydration. And it does remind her to do that: if the dog barks because it needs water she gets a glass of water or juice for herself too. Dog is hungry and barking for food, she fixes herself a snack too. The dog knows when bedtime is and insists she go to the bedroom and lay down with it, which helps with her sleep hygiene to manage her insomnia. It really has helped her, and our vet (who placed the dog with her as a rescue) was happy to have found a home for a yappy but otherwise healthy senior dog whose owners couldn’t take care of it anymore.

        So, ehhh, they have a place.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I’m so glad that has helped your mother. Looking back, I feel like it could have been really helpful for my grandmother’s dementia when she was alive.

        2. Magenta Sky*

          That’s not an ESL animal, that’s a support animal under the ADA. There’s no requirement for *formal* training, in only has to be trained to perform specific tasks to compensate for a disability, and what you describe sounds like it has.

          1. sap*

            What she describes sounds like a dog that barks when it’s hungry or needs to go outside to pee.

            Dogs do that without any training. My ears can attest to that.

      3. Specialk9*

        So… You’re the arbiter for what service/therapy dogs are legit and which aren’t? So what’s your 10-point inspection and evaluation process? What’s your credential and extensive background in the industry? What accreditation do you provide?

        1. Magenta Sky*

          That is precisely why the law is as loose as it is. The only alternative to what we have now is regulations that will, without a doubt, deny people what they need to be functional. It’s easy to understand the frustration with those who abuse the law, but there’s certainly another side to it, and disabled people have to deal with a lot of crap already.

      1. SME*

        ESAs are not regulated, service animals are. Service animals can only be dogs or ponies (of all things), anything else including emotional support dogs have zero regulation. People can spend money for special vests and private certifications but they hold no legal weight like a service animal does. The letter writer is confusing the word service a few times here referring to her emotional support cat, the problematic coworker is not actually asking about a service dog she’s asking about an emotional support dog.

        1. Letter Writer*

          Hi, I mentioned that there’s a distinction between the two, and that I have one while Jane is trying to pass hers off as another. The “need” she passed her dog off as providing is the kind of need that an ESA would provide, but she seems to think the two are interchangeable, as she wants him to be protected in public. Granted, we’re a dog friendly work place and even a pet that’s neither ESA nor service is allowed, but she doesn’t seem to understand that. Well, didn’t understand until I explained the distinction, which she promptly dismissed.

        2. fposte*

          Neither of them are regulated, in that neither of them are subject to any kind of overseeing authority; there’s no service dog regulation either.

            1. fposte*

              Right, the ADA applies to service dogs and the FHA and the ACAA apply to emotional support animals. So they’re equally regulated in that there’s law about both of them protecting their rights to be in certain places, but neither kind of animal is subject to any official registering or testing. It’s therapy dogs that have no legal coverage at all.

            2. Emac*

              INAL, but have researched ESAs for myself, and from what I’ve read ADA does apply to them as far as housing. For someone with a true need for an ESA, it’s considered an accommodation to help with their disability and the Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations under ADA. That said, any ESA does need to be controlled and not a danger to anyone else (otherwise, I would think that it wouldn’t be a ‘reasonable’ accommodation).

              1. Magenta Sky*

                You are correct, except that it’s not the ADA, which does not address ESAs at all. It’s the Fair Housing act, which is a completely different law. (And is enforce by a different government bureaucracy.)

        3. Lady Phoenix*

          Speaking of Service Animals

          WTFIWWY covered another story where an owner brought their pet BOA CONSTRICTOR into a restaurant and claimed it was a support animal.

          I love me my snakes but imagine eating dinner and all of the sudden facing THAT giant thing.

          1. Lindsay J*

            Haha. That’s kind of awesomely ridiculous.

            But, I mean, some things like anxiety and I think autism can be helped by pressure on the body (usually applied by weighted vests or blankets I think) and a boa would be good at applying that lol.

            When my guy was smaller I could have brought him a bunch of places in my hoodie pocket since he generally curled up pretty contentedly in there. But I didn’t. Because he’s a snake. And he belongs at home. Because he’s a snake.

          2. Feline*

            A close family member of mine used to supervise the admissions gate of a nationally-famous theme park. They fell back on the ADA’s definition of service animals — only dogs and miniature horses — due to people attempting to bring both emotional support snakes and monkeys into the park.

            As far as I know, no one tried to bring both at once.

            1. paul*

              That sort of thing is absolutely horrible for the snakes too. No chance to hide, they can’t really thermoregulate, no hydration, lots of stress…it’s just awful.

            2. JessaB*

              I am however a little annoyed that the ADA did NOT class monkeys in when they wrote it. I know two separate paralysed persons who have capuchins to open doors and fetch things for them. They really are very very trainable and have near to human dexterity.

          3. Big City Woman*

            I learned recently that, apparently, snakes can detect a seizure coming on, and can warn their owner with some kind of behavior (such as “hugging” them). I don’t know if they are trained to do that. I suppose snakes could be trainable. But they’re still not legally recognized as service animals. I believe ferrets were, at one time, but that was discontinued. I don’t know what ferrets were good at.

            1. TL -*

              One of my friends has a super cuddly ferret – the sweetest little guy. He kept him in a no-animals allowed apartment (in exchange for doing maintenance work for the landlord) but when the apartment was being shown he told people who asked that the ferret was for his anxiety.

            2. nonegiven*

              I met someone with T1 diabetes that took in a stray cat. She found the cat would wake her in the night when she went low. Medicaid made her use the cheapest long acting insulin that’s too peaky at night so she was prone to that.

          4. Lora*

            They give the BEST hugs!

            Kidding, kidding. I used to have a small house boa (about 2 1/2 feet long) that liked to curl up in my hair – keeping warm. Once in a while I would “wear” him to a quick trip to the gas station, sort of thing, and people mostly thought he was some kind of shiny brown headband until he poked his head out.

          5. Magenta Sky*

            Another example of the confusion between service animals and support animals. Snakes *cannot* *ever* be a service animals (which is the only thing the ADA requires a business to allow). They can only be dogs, and sometimes miniature horses. The restaurant had ever legal right to toss her and her snake out.

        4. another Liz*

          Training a seeing eye dog is a huge investment of time and money. Mini ponies have 4x the lifespan and are about the same size as the average Lab, and being prey animals, have a much wider field of vision and an instincive sense of threat. They’re very well suited to the task of seeing eye pony.

    3. Naomi*

      I don’t know how the process works, so maybe it’s easier to register a service animal than I would have imagined, but I’m skeptical of whether Jane has actually gotten her dog classed as a service animal. She was obviously contemplating it, and it’s possible that she has gone through with it (or lied to management and claimed she has). But since she started bringing the dog back only after the HR rep who took a firm line left, I wonder if Jane isn’t just doing as she likes because no one else will tell her no.

      1. Snark*

        There’s not even a “registry.” You can buy a vest on Amazon and print a certificate online. There’s absolutely no formal certification or registration process.

        1. Laura in NJ*

          Wow. I had no idea it was that easy to commit service animal fraud. And nothing’s being done about it?

          1. LBK*

            Well, it’s not really “fraud” because there’s no laws about it anyway. There’s no governing body that licenses service animals or ESAs. It’s all completely arbitrary. The ADA defines a service dog as one that’s been trained for a certain medical purpose but there’s no specific guidelines for what that training has to entail, any kind of test to verify that the train has occurred, etc.

          2. Magenta Sky*

            It’s actually even worse than that. Not only is there no registration or requirement for formal training, a business is only allowed to ask two question:

            “Is that a service animal?”

            “What service is it trained to perform?”

            And nothing else. You cannot ask what disability it is trained to compensate for, and you absolutely cannot ask for a demonstration.

            The law was written that way in response (or perhaps over-response) to centuries of abuse against the disabled in the other direction, and decades of abuse against service animals in the US.

            1. Starbuck*

              The good thing if that the animal is actually causing problems (making a mess, being aggressive) you can ask them to leave, no matter if it’s a legitimate service animal or not. So it isn’t as if there’s no recourse.

        2. Naomi*

          Wow. That’s kind of mind-blowing. But in this case, it’s not clear whether Jane has done even that much. She may have told management her dog is a service animal, or she may just be taking rampant advantage of the lack of oversight.

        3. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I just Googled “service dogs” and the first five hits were for fake service dog vests and papers. The first entry about real, trained service dogs was number six. That just shows what a growing industry faking it is becoming. :-/

        4. AL*

          In most states if you are caught with a fake service dog you can be charged with breaking the law. You have to bring your dog with you to court to prove it is a service dog. There isn’t a registry, but that is to give more access to people with service dogs that train them on their own.

          1. JessaB*

            Or to people with animals that become service animals by accident. A lot of people with diabetes, seizures, hypoglycaemia, etc., have found that they get a pet and that animal is able to alert to seizures, or low or high blood sugar or whatever thing is wrong with them. If it’s a dog, it’s pretty much an immediate service dog. Still has to be trained not to bite or go potty just anywhere, but that alerting is a legit task. The only problem is if it’s your snake or your cat, the law doesn’t cover them.

      2. OhNo*

        The problem with service animals is that there’s no centralized registration system, so anyone can claim service animal status without their animal actually having any training at all.

        What’s more, because there isn’t any centralized registration, the law doesn’t allow businesses to ask for paperwork or proof (although there are plenty of websites that will sell you fake paperwork for a small fee to make it seem legit). The only questions you are allowed to ask in most circumstances are: “Is this a service animal?” and “What service/action does it provide?”

        So it’s entirely possible that Jane told someone her dog is a service animal (and maybe even provided fradulent paperwork), and no one knows feels like they can deny her becuse the laws are hard to understand and there are lots of possibilities for discrimination accusations.

        1. fposte*

          Though, as I mentioned above, that limit doesn’t apply to an employer, who can go more deeply into the situation. I’ll post a useful link from AskJAN in followup.

      3. Lindsay J*

        For an emotional support animal, there are no requirements. (not sure about legit service animals).

        My Facebook has me classed as a frequent traveler for ad purposes, and I get a big advertisement in my Facebook feed a lot of the times for a company that promises to certify your pet as an emotional support animal so you can avoid paying airline pet fees. All you need to do is pay them.

        And I’m pretty sure you don’t even need to do that. A doctor’s note and a certificate you made yourself in MS Paint would be just as official.

    4. 5 Leaf Clover*

      Nothing makes me angrier than a fake service dog. It is an incredibly selfish act that ruins it for people who actually need them.

      1. Starbuck*

        It only ruins it if we let it. Businesses can always ask that disruptive animals be removed, whether they’re a service animal or not.

    5. Anon For This*

      Yes, this really bothers me! I sympathize with people who have a legitimate need for a service dog but I have a severe, severe fear of dogs (my heart is racing and my palms are sweaty just from reading the OP) and I have noticed a lot of dogs in public places in recent years which have made me change my habits in some ways. Luckily, my field precludes me from ever working in a dog-friendly environment, but it has made me less interested in wandering around downtown, and I never feel like I can say anything because I’ve had multiple people tell me they “don’t trust” people who don’t like dogs or that “you would like my dog.”

    6. Alton*

      I don’t know how I’d feel about tighter regulations, because getting a service animal in the first place can be difficult for a lot of people, and there’s already a lot of pushback against legitimate, well-behaved service animals in public. I know a disabled person who’s actually a skilled dog trainer, and I’m glad that they were able to train their own service dog without having to jump through a ton of hoops or spend money they couldn’t afford. At the same time, I think regulations might help protect people from disreputable dog trainers.

      Public places in the US can already kick out badly-behaved service animals, as far as I’m aware. Being a service dog isn’t a free pass for a dog to poop on the floor or act aggressive.

      1. sorbus*

        There’s also, historically, a lot of pushback against disabled people in public, or against allowing disabled people accommodations if they don’t conform exactly to gatekeepers ideas of what disability looks like. So I think a lot of disabled people would be leery of registrations required for service animals, as it may adversely impact people who have service dogs for epilepsy, PTSD, and other invisible conditions.

        1. Kj*

          Agreed! I have worked with people with service dogs for invisible disabilities and they get hassled in public. And then they either have to go into gory details with strangers to justify it or they have to refuse and get accused of lying.

        2. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I think it would actually benefit those people to have a central registry for official service animals. If the animal had a specific vest or collar or whatever designation then no one will question the animal’s right to be in that space.

          As it is now, with so many people ‘gaming’ the system, it opens up people with legitimate service animals to more questions and issues.

          1. Specialk9*

            I think so too. We all know about the fakers – if I knew a service dog had legit papers that could get checked, I’d totally stop wondering. (Though I’m less inclined than others, apparently, to wonder if someone really needs their dog.) I think a registry would legitimize service animals.

            1. AL*

              But it can also make it harder for owner trained service dogs to be legitimate. Other countries do have registries and it makes it so there is a lot of gatekeeping that disallows many disabled people from having service dogs. The ADA outlines a standard of training and the courts uphold it by requiring handlers prove their dog is legitimate if they are challenged on it.

        3. Dankar*

          Yeah, my understanding of service animal regulations was that they’re not registered in a database and are exempt from needing to “prove” their status to protect the person with the disability from needing to disclose the nature of their health issue.

        4. JessaB*

          On the other hand this can be done in the same way that parking permits are done. You can even use the same mechanism via motor vehicles. My permit doesn’t say why I need it. So the tag you get for your service animal wouldn’t either. And it’d be even better if they could agree on what the tag looked like, that way each state would get a little revenue for processing the tags, but like car permits it would look fairly similar so it wouldn’t matter what state you started in. Yes my doctor checks off a form, but that form goes to the bureaucracy that is motor vehicles and I’ve not heard of any major hacking or anything or special discrimination happening because there were leaks of that information. Companies that provide animals (like the Seeing Eye and all of those,) could provide the tag with the animal.

          If not the same handicapped permitting feature of motor vehicles then maybe it gets done through your vet like rabies tags do or animal control like registration does I mean you have to register your dog, shouldn’t take much longer to get two tags than one?

          And yes discrimination sucks, but sooner or later the ratio of fake animals is going to make life even HARDER than it is now. Every day I read in the news someone being turned away with a legit service animal because “you’re not blind” and people just do not believe that animals can be used by other people or that if they can, they have a right to be in public. Deaf News is always running reports about hearing ear dogs being turned away because their owners aren’t blind.

          The truth is ultimately we the disabled are going to have to put up with some kind of tag/registration that comes from an official source in order to go forward. There’s just too many cheap easy ways to fake things and even though the law allows people to toss unruly animals, too many are too scared to do so.

      2. Viktoria*

        Yes, and it would be difficult to capture all the different ways service dogs can be trained to help their owners. I’m most familiar with Diabetic Alert Dogs since I have diabetes and know a couple of people who have them. There’s not really a lot of research into their effectiveness, but they can certainly alert to low and high blood sugar. Well, would a regulatory body want some expensive huge studies to be conducted before regulating a DAD? Furthermore, people with disabilities may have unique or creative tasks they want their dogs to perform, that help them specifically, but I’m imagining this causing issues with a regulatory body (“no, diabetes alert dogs must perform tasks A, B, and C to be certified! Not tasks A, B, and D!” that kind of thing.)

        I think the best solution is for their to be more education for business owners about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to service dogs. Maybe a number they can call to get guidance about whether the animal is a protected service dog or something like that. (“Help, this dog just pooped in my restaurant and the owner is refusing to leave because she says it’s a service dog! Can I kick her out?”)

        1. Specialk9*

          I don’t think that’s actually that hard. Get a doctor’s note that you need a service animal, no reason given. Doesn’t matter if it’s blindness, PTSD, seizures, diabetes, panic attacks… That’s at least a higher bar than just buying a vest.

          1. JessaB*

            Yes. Exactly same way we get parking permits. It’s not about the animal nor the training. it’s merely proof that the animal is needed for a task that is a legitimate service animal task. Just like my permit is not about WHY I need that parking space, just that I do. It doesn’t have to get into regulatory stuff. It’s merely a bar that the average faker won’t be able to clear.

            I don’t care what kind of lead or harness or vest the animal has, does it have the oh I dunno blue paw print tag with the universal symbol for disability on it?

            And if that symbol is registered, it can be enshrined in law that it’s illegal to duplicate that. And just like my parking permit there’s a card that goes with that says permit number 3 belongs to JessaB.

            A lot easier to go online and shut down a company for making blue paw print tags with engraved wheelchair symbols on them than for making fake service vests that do not actually encroach on someone’s trademark.

    7. Kate 2*

      There was a new report a few months ago about a veteran’s “emotional support” dog who viciously attacked another man on the plane. He was bitten, very badly, multiple times. I haven’t been able to find any follow up, but apparently when the plane landed the vet was able to leave with his dog, it wasn’t taken in my animal control or anything, though the article said some agency was supposed to “follow up”.

      1. Anion*

        All too often, dogs (fake “service” or not) who viciously attack and/or maul or even kill people or other animals are allowed to go home with their owners. Sometimes they’re put under “quarantine” for ten days (rabies precaution) but nothing else is done. Animal advocacy groups will often fund-raise to “save” these dogs and to fight laws that would require automatic euthanasia. Animal Control is often completely useless when it comes to dealing with vicious or aggressive dogs. (And it doesn’t help that groups like the Humane Society are often the same, and will adopt out animals with known aggression issues–the rise in attacks and even deaths caused by animals that were adopted out by the ASPCA/HSUS is frightening, and it’s all thanks to a form of animal advocacy that says animal lives are more important than human and animals must be saved at all costs no matter what. It’s why I no longer donate to any animal groups.)

        Until we as taxpayers start fighting to make Animal Control do its job and hold them and other agencies (and lawmakers) accountable when they don’t, the problem will just get worse and worse.

    8. AL*

      Some may be badly behaving. Some may simply be service animals who are having a bad day. It happens but it is also a symptom of how inaccessible service dog training is. It’s expensive, an organization can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. Self training is hard if you don’t have the time / experience / ability as well.

  4. Lil Figet*

    The only downside of approaching management is that if you report this dog as a problem, it’s not super unlikely that the company will ban all dogs in the office. Reasonable people wouldn’t change things for everybody based on one person’s bad behavior, but this is an easier out for management in dealing with this employee, who’s not likely to go quietly. Just wanted to flag it for OP so s/he can factor it into their thinking.

    1. Emi.*

      I mean, they already have rules against aggressive dogs, so they *should* be able to just enforce those rules instead of creating a new stricter one. But anyway, if banning all dogs is what it takes to get a biter out of the office, it’s a bummer but worth it.

    2. boop the first*

      True, but it’s already ruined for everyone, as it sounds like everyone has stopped bringing their dogs anyway since this one moved in.

    3. JB (not in Houston)*

      As Emi said, they already ban aggressive dogs. And if rather than enforce their own rules, they decide to ban all dogs, that’s better than letting aggressive dogs stay, right? Hopefully anyone who would be upset about would blame the dog owner, not the OP. Sometimes people put the blame in the wrong place, but since people have already started not bringing their own dogs in response, I don’t think the OP would get the blame in this case.

  5. The IT Manager*

    Grrrr. I hate people who abuse the exemptions for service animals just to bring their pet with them everywhere to like pretending to have needs to take their pet everywhere like this co-worker wants.

    That said, that’s a bit of a red herring in this letter. HR told co-worker not to bring dog in. Co-worker started bringing dog in as soon as HR was no longer in the office. Report this and good manager should put a stop to this especially because the dog is disruptive and aggressive.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I love my dog and have worked at dog-friendly offices. But she’s aggressive with other dogs, and I don’t bring her to work for exactly that reason (and any number of other precautions to protect other dogs). But if she was aggressive with humans, too? Hell to the no. OP, I am so frustrated and angry on your behalf.

    I would report this up the chain. And I’d tell her bluntly that service dog laws don’t protect aggressive, untrained animals and that it’s really inappropriate of her to try to use a program that is absolutely necessary for disabled people to try to force her dog in (but I can be self-righteous when I’m mad, so I acknowledge that the latter is not a peace-making approach and may inadvertently assume she does not have a disability requiring service dog accommodation). I’m so sorry—I don’t know what to say because I’m so mad at your coworker.

    1. Kathleen*

      I probably sound totally clueless and I don’t want to get too OT, but the concept of dog-friendly workplaces has come up several times here, and I simply can’t understand *why* a company would allow people to bring their dogs – pets, not service animals – to the office? I guess I can see allowing it in an emergency, the way some places will let someone whose daycare fell through bring their child in for half a day or something – but why would anybody think this is something they should allow routinely? I absolutely do not get it. I just don’t see how a few dogs, even well behaved ones, can be anything but distracting.

      1. NaoNao*

        I think it’s a bit of a trendy perk, like free cafeteria food, recreational stuff like foosball, or nap rooms. I’m not a dog owner, but I’m aware that one must feed and walk dogs multiple times a day for them to be truly happy. Also many dogs are very social and develop behavioral issues if left alone all day, every day.
        So in order to attract high quality talent, offices offer “dog friendly” so that the owner can walk, feed, and socialize their dog while at work and (presumably) work longer hours or more hours at the actual office than they otherwise would.
        Another possibility is that the owners of the company are dog lovers and they want to be around their dogs all day so they put the policy in place.
        The most remote possibility or factor is that (in my opinion) youth culture (of which I’m a part!) is different in terms of integrating home and work; the boundaries are much less blurred. When you’re a “digital nomad” and you get used to setting your own hours and bringing Fido everywhere you go, it’s harder to shift to corporate offices. So the offices that are dog friendly may be trying to attract or put out a youthful, trendy, funky, cool vibe.

      2. Trig*

        It’s a perk. A benefit. An incentive to work there. Same reason offices have free pop in the fridge or other little niceties. I think it’s more common with ‘modern’ start-up style workplaces. And if you have a dog with separation anxiety, it can be a lifesaver!

        Honestly, if the dogs are adults and well-behaved, they pretty much sleep all day anyway. It could be completely unobtrusive. But all it takes is one yapper/biter/hyper dog to ruin the dynamic.

      3. 5 Leaf Clover*

        This is cynical, but it may be because people tend to want to get home to their dogs. Like how some offices provide food, and it’s seen as a friendly-place-to-work thing, but it’s also kind of an “and now you can stay here for 14 hours at a time!” thing

        1. Snark*

          That’s a little overly cynical. My last job let you bring dogs to the office and it wasn’t a quid pro quo thing. The owner of the firm had an elderly beagle who basically flopped bonelessly in the corner next to the warm fan vent from the printer and farted all day, which was only an imposition when you had to walk into the cloud of dogbuttstank to grab a print job.

          1. Dankar*

            It might seem cynical, but being able to bring my dog to work on days when I work late has definitely kept me in the office longer than I typically would have been otherwise. It also provides incentive to come in on slow days when I might otherwise request to work from home.

            If I don’t have to pick my pup up from daycare before 6, then I can definitely stay in my office past 6. She gets to socialize and my boss and I get to work longer. Sometimes it does work out in the employer’s favor.

          2. LBK*

            I’m with 5 Leaf Clover. A lot of those perks aren’t explicitly positioned as quid pro quo, but it certainly makes it harder to argue that you need to leave to pick up your dog or get lunch or that you just need some time to relax when you can do all of those things right at your office. It gives you less of an excuse to leave and ergo less of an excuse to stop working.

          3. Allison*

            “The owner of the firm had an elderly beagle who basically flopped bonelessly in the corner next to the warm fan vent from the printer and farted all day, which was only an imposition when you had to walk into the cloud of dogbuttstank to grab a print job.”

            that made me giggle :)

      4. LJP*

        Our workplace (large tech company) recently began allowing dogs 2 days/week. It’s considered an employee perk.
        I bring my dog often, and people seem happy to have him. When I don’t bring him, people ask me where he is. I think it is a minor distraction, but not more than normal chit-chat during the workday. I do realize that people who like dogs will be more vocal about it than people who don’t, so I try really hard to make sure he’s not bothering anyone and not be one of THOSE dog owners.
        Overall my workplace is very professional. Many people own dogs but don’t bring them because they worry they’d misbehave. The dogs that come in are very good (I realize I am biased!).

      5. Kathleen*

        Thanks, NaoNao and Trig. But you know, kids have separation anxiety, too, and most places won’t let people bring an infant to the office except in an emergency. Their parents are expected to find ways to deal with this that don’t, at least on a routine basis, affect their coworkers too much. And after all, childcare is a much more significant problem than dog care. If course, it’s so significant that it can’t be solved by simply saying, “Sure you can bring your kid in! Just make sure it doesn’t bite. I guess that’s why “dog-friendly” has become the perk du jour. It seems pretty short-sighted to me, though. But then, I have neither a dog nor a kid (I have a cat who is very fond of guarding her home territory), so WDIK? Thanks for your insight.

        1. Trig*

          Generally an infant needs more active attention though, you can’t just expect them to lay there napping all day. In between naps they need a lot more. An ideal office dog needs 0 attention, and shouldn’t affect/distract coworkers at all. (I work from home. My dog sleeps on the couch all day until I’m done working and ready for a walk. But she gets super excited about other dogs and new people, so she wouldn’t make a good office dog!) Obviously not every dog is ideal all the time, and I definitely get that some people are afraid of/don’t like dogs or like dogs SO MUCH that just the presence of a dog would be distracting.

          I agree that it kinda limits you for the future though; I think there was a letter here a while back about a person who was super allergic to dogs being hired into a dog-friendly office where the dog-friendliness wasn’t disclosed ahead of time. What may seem like a great perk when your office consists of ten buddies may be less great when it means you can’t hire/keep good people who are afraid of/allergic to/don’t like dogs.

        2. LAI*

          I don’t have a kid but I do have 2 dogs and an adorable 9 month old nephew, and I’m pretty sure the kid is LOT more work. He’s awake most of the day and he cries if he’s not being held or moved around – the longest you can put him down by himself is about 30 minutes. My dogs, on the other hand, will happily sleep for about 14 hours a day if undisturbed. I work from home sometimes and I just put the dog bed next to my desk. Except for a few minutes when they bark at the mailman or whatever, you wouldn’t even know they were there.

        3. Dankar*

          I see dog-friendly offices becoming more of a norm as we move forward. People just out of college are delaying having children, looking for telework opportunities (need to entice them into the office somehow!) and are increasingly orienting their lives around their dogs. (See the article about young professionals purchasing homes to give their dogs yards.)

          I think it probably also alleviates pressures on businesses to provide parent-friendly perks, which is a shame, but as one of the people living around my dog’s needs, I like the perks.

          I’d really like to see research on the pet-friendly vs. child-friendly policies popping up these days. I think that would be really interesting.

        4. Emi.*

          Honestly, it really irks me that people seem so much more willing to have dogs in the office than infants who don’t even have teeth!

      6. Obligate Candyvore*

        I get that my industry is an outlier, but I work in pet specialty retail and our main office as well as all of the stores are pet-friendly workplaces. The company is looking for people who are passionate and knowledgable about pets and pet care; not allowing our own pets in that kind of workplace would be weird and would very likely turn off good candidates.

        1. Bleeborp*

          When the workplace is pet related, that makes a little more sense! But all other offices, it just seems so strange to me. I like dogs but I’m not a pet person to begin with and would find it very off putting to share my office with animals. I don’t even particularly like sharing my home with animals (I am the begrudging step mother to a cat…I mean, I love her but would not have chosen to have a pet if she didn’t come with my husband.) It’s just something very personal (having pets, what kind of pet) and to spend 8 hours a day with pets not of your choosing would bug me!

      7. Viktoria*

        Yeah, just a perk like others have said. I work in a very small business that’s owned by my family, so it’s an unusual situation, but I couldn’t have gotten a dog if I couldn’t bring her to work (I’m gone 12 hours/day including commute and can’t afford dog walking or daycare every day). She’s a total vegetable and just sleeps all day. She has a few beds around the office and visits them all during the day. Not really a distraction except that we all pet her from time to time, which is a huge stress reliever. My coworker doesn’t bring her dog because she barks. (Mine does not). Our dogs don’t get along so if my coworker’s dog didn’t have the barking problem we would agree on some schedule.

      8. Brandy*

        I think its a way to keep employees in the office longer , as well. I have heard that’s why a lot of the Trendy companies in the Tech world (ie Google, etc..) offer dry cleaning and Drs offices at the office is to keep employees at work longer. This way you cant say ” have to take off for a Drs app” or “I need to get home due to my pets” (after 8 hours). Its all there. I have seen this theory posted in online papers.

      9. Lindsay J*

        It’s a perk, and they probably believe it increases productivity by making people happier and less stressed out.

        And some people pay not-insignificant amounts on doggie day care so their dog doesn’t have to sit at home bored and alone all day while they’re out, so not having to spend the money would definitely be a perk for those people.

        (I think my friend spends about $90 a week for her dog to go to a doggie daycare 3 times a week. He’s also a big energetic Husky mix so I don’t think he specifically would do well in an office. But that’s $4500 a year that someone would be saving in a similar case.

        My dog came to work with me once (I worked in a pet-friendly photography studio, and my house was being bombed with pesticides). I enjoyed having her there, and she mostly sat under a desk and slept. If I could bring her to work every day in an environment like that I would enjoy it, and she would probably like seeing me more than a couple waking hours a day as well as all the attention and love she would get from everyone else. It definitely increased my mood that day.

      10. Alexandra Hamilton*

        I 100% agree. Regular old pets don’t belong at work. Trained service animals, sure, they’re trained and someone has an actual demonstrated need for their assistance. “Dog friendly workplaces” are the opposite of a perk to me.

        1. Kathleen*

          Yeah, I like dogs just fine, but I really wouldn’t like to work around them all the time. I guess if everybody had an individual office it wouldn’t be bad, but in an open office? I would not like it at all. I guess my perk would be working in the dog-free zone.

          Besides, almost everybody posting here has a nice, mellow, people-loving dog, but with my luck, that’s not what would be in the next cubicle if I worked in a dog-friendly workplace. Just one ill-behaved dog (or really ill-behaved dog owner) can spoil it for everybody.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Me too. I like dogs, I have owned dogs before, and it wouldn’t bother me if a colleague occasionally brought their dog into the office for some reason. But I don’t think I’d want to have them in the office all the time.

      11. Close Bracket*

        Bc dogs are awesome :)

        It’s the same reason some restaurants have dog-friendly patios and that libraries have read to a dog days.

        Obviously, not everybody agrees that dogs are awesome, and not everybody wants dogs in their office or their library. And that’s why most places do not allow dogs.

    2. Rockhopper*

      But even if she does have a disability, service dogs are specially chosen at a young age and trained to a high standard. A properly trained service dog does not behave in this way.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Of course. It’s clear she doesn’t have a service animal, but since she’s trying to find ways to force her (unqualified, untrained) dog in, I think a blunt set-down has value. But as noted, I can be moralizing and self-righteous when angry, so I understand that my preference for blunt set-downs may not be collegial or “professional.”

      2. Snark*

        Exactly this. Any actual service animal is specifically and rigorously trained to provide a certain type of support.

        1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

          Right. My husband’s office is a training facility for these dogs (two of the employees are volunteers for a service dog organization), and they go through a lot of training prior to the office training. It takes a lot of hours and dedicated people to make them a service dog, and they almost all start out as puppies or young dogs. They have graduations for them and everything.

          1. Elizabeth*

            And a high percentage wash out of training. My neighbor has a washout that had reached the point of being matched when the organization discovered a problem with his sister’s hips. All of the litter (7 lab puppies) were immediately pulled back and checked for the same issue. 5 of the 7 were found to have the problem, so they were removed from training. Buddy had the surgery necessary to fix the issue, and he was put up for adoption, which is how my neighbor got him. He’s a lovely, intelligent, quick-learning dog who still remembers all of his training (Dad has a harness for him and they practice a couple times a week), but he isn’t a service dog anymore.

          2. Lindsay J*

            Oooo, I forgot about this type of volunteering even though I know people who used to do it.

            My girl is getting up there in age. (She’s 13+/-). And my boyfriend has mentioned that when she passes on he does not necessarily want to get a new dog right away. (More difficult and expensive to travel when you have to spend $30 a day and find someone willing to come in and walk and feed and water your dog. Limits your choices for housing. Etc.)

            I was thinking about fostering for a local shelter, but this and similar orgs sound like a good idea to consider as well.

        2. Specialk9*

          Well, but clearly they’re not, or there would be a certification process and regulation body. So that’s more of how you think it should be, and how it sometimes is.

  7. Katniss*

    I always feel bad for the dog in situations like this: it’s not their fault they have terrible owners who don’t bother to train them. If people don’t have the desire to actually train their dogs and treat them as they should be treated (and that includes leaving them at home sometimes if they aren’t service dogs: training dogs into your own neediness isn’t good), they shouldn’t be able to have them at all.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My parents are like this. Their previous dog was very easy and kind of chill. Their current dog is a nightmare. She’s leash reactive, badly trained, slightly stranger-aggressive, and twice she got up in my dog’s face and basically tried to eat him. She is 8 pounds. They have an “emotional support animal” vest they bought somewhere online and they put it on her so they can take her indoors. My parents sent her to a trainer but refuse to follow through on the lessons, so the result is a pretty terrible animal who can’t manage her own anxiety. She must be a miserable creature, and I completely blame my parents.

      My dog is 65 pounds. He’s a naturally very relaxed and friendly guy, but we work hard on teaching him appropriate behaviors for our good and his (I used to take him to work and spent a good amount of the day making sure he was well behaved, and when he got antsy, we left). And for the good of his little canine auntie, because if she had provoked him with her aggression, it would not have ended well for her. It irritates me SO MUCH that some people believe that small dogs don’t need to be trained.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I hear you. My mom’s yorkie lived for 16 years, and it was a terrible dog the entire time. It took 3 yrs to potty train, and it would jump on the furniture and run across the back of the couch, jump on people, whine and beg through meals (while my mom fed it under the table), bark in storms, etc. My mother will say “maybe I’ll get another dog when I retire” and my husband loses his sh*t when she says that.

      2. Kelly*

        My late grandmother’s Maltese was never properly house trained or taken to any obedience training, partly because my grandmother didn’t want to do that. Even my father who thought his mother couldn’t do too much wrong, loathed the dog. She refused to come to our house when she had the dog because it was banned from visiting by both my parents. She was shocked when she did spend the night once the dog passed that my parents allowed the orange diva princess cat in bed with them, and once they got the dog, had no objections to him being on the couch and beds. The major difference was that the dog was only allowed on those items once he had been trained and would only come up if invited up.

    2. anncakes*

      Aggression and reactivity often don’t really have a whole lot to do with training. Dogs develop these behaviors for different reasons, and even the most well-cared for and well trained dogs can end up with problems. Aggression and reactivity are behavioral problems that take a lot of work to solve, and even then, sometimes the best you can hope for is to just dial it down a bit and make the behavior more manageable.

      This person should definitely not be bringing their dog to work. Not only are they putting their coworkers at risk of injury and disrupting everyone’s work, they’re actually making the dog’s behavior *worse* by repeatedly exposing it to these situations where it feels threatened.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Exactly. My dog is other-dog reactive, we worked with a trainer who specializes in reactive dogs. The main thing we learned was how to avoid situations that would cause her to react and how to get out of those situations if we found ourselves in them. (Ex: I only walk her really early in the morning before any other neighbors are out walking their dogs. If we see someone out with their dog, we turn and go the other way. If we turn around and there is another dog, we either go through the alley or get in someone’s yard and “park” until the other dogs are gone.) She will never be friends with another dog, period. Luckily she *loves* people, as long as those people don’t have dogs with them!

        But no, I would never take her to a dog-friendly office because that is my responsibility as her owner. It wouldn’t be fair to my coworkers and also not fair to my dog. She would be stressed out all day!

      2. Anion*

        Aggression and reactivity are genetic to some degree, as well. And as you said–thank you for saying it, and for your great comment in general!–even the most rigorous training won’t/can’t always fully stop the problem.

        There was kind of a fascinating little situation a few years back with Cocker Spaniels(!) who were exhibiting sudden violent rage; just sudden, unprovoked attacks. The Spaniel breeders association got together to look into it and discovered that they could trace the ancestry of the dogs who had exhibited “Rage Syndrome” back to just a few dogs. Even “distant” descendants of those dogs–like, with only 1/24 blood, or even farther down the line than that–were more likely to have one or more episode of sudden, random, unprovoked violence. It’s a powerful gene, that one is.

        You can’t “train” that behavior out of a dog, because it’s genetic and unpredictable; you don’t know if and when the dog may exhibit it so there’s no way to train them not to do it. Just one day something clicks in their head, that genetic switch is flipped, and off they go–and often they don’t even realize they’ve done something wrong, because genetic behavior is self-rewarding (it feels “good” to the dog, like what they’re supposed to do. It’s similar to how babies will keep trying to walk even when they fall down, because our genes tell us that this is what we ought to do and it feels “right” to do it.)

        And because it’s unpredictable and the dog may have never shown any sign of violence or aggression before, it’s not even untrainable in the same way that you can’t really train a Pointer not to point.

        It’s not as simple as “If you raise and train the dog right, it will never be violent or aggressive,” unfortunately. That’s an insidious canard, and it unfortunately leaves many dangerous dogs on our streets because misguided people think they can train that behavior away–it’s cost lives, both human and animal.

        And yes, if nothing else this co-worker is treating her dog badly, and setting it up to fail in a potentially disastrous and fatal fashion. SMH. She needs to be stopped immediately.

    3. Dankar*

      Reactive and aggressive dogs are generally very stressed animals, too. That’s part of why they’re so reactive. Refusing to train your dog (depriving him/her of the confidence they need to be well-behaved) and placing the dog in an unbelievably stressful situation every day is cruel. I don’t understand why people do this sort of thing.

      (Well, I do–they’re selfish–but I don’t understand how they can put themselves over the needs of their animal.)

    4. HigherEd on Toast*

      +1 I used to work with a colleague who was absolutely obsessed with her dog (partially I think because she’d never had a dog when she was a kid) and wanted to bring it to her office and classes and all over the campus. She had to stop bringing it to classes because the dog woul charge around the class barking, trying to snatch any food the kids had out of their backpacks and trying to shred their papers. But she still brought her to the office and walked her down campus, with the dog lunging against the leash and strangling herself every time someone with food or another dog on a leash went by. My colleague never trained her, because that would “break her spirit.” She also tried to use the dog as an excuse to cancel classes and dump her responsibilities on other people: “Well, I have to go give her a bath!/ Well, she’s out of organic dog cookies!/ Well, I promised to spend the night on the sofa with her!” I’m so glad I don’t work with her anymore.

  8. Lady Phoenix*

    Trivia: Dogs are one of the most common phobia, usually brought on by previous dog attacks. That is why some horror stories will opt out spiders for canines (and wolves).

    You definitely need to talk to someone higher up.
    1. Mention that HR has previously banned her dog for aggressive behavior
    2. Tell them that she is trying to make it a service dog, but the dog’s aggressive behavior would NOT be protected
    3. Include other cases such as attacking another dog and even growling at the CEO

    I wouldn’t even bother with the coworker except on immediate cases like
    Dog: Growls
    You: Jane, reign your dog in now
    Jane: It’s fine
    You: No, your dog is growling at me and making me uncomfortable. Reign your dog in now. (Also document incident)

    Dog: Attacks other dog
    You and other Owner: Jane, get your dog now!
    Jane: They’re just playing
    You/Other Owner: No. your dog is attacking mine and you need to geab them now. (Safely seperate dogs and document incident)

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I have a pit mix who is really reactive to other dogs because she was attacked by an aggressive beagle in foster care. She won’t react to calm dogs but if a dog goes at her she WILL engage. You wouldn’t believe how many times someone has an off leash dog that comes barreling toward her and I’ll tell them to get their dog NOW and they’ll say something like “oh he’s just playing” or “she’s friendly!” Super! Mine is NOT friendly and will tear up your floofhound, so get it on a leash NOW. If someone tells you to contain your dog, CONTAIN YOUR DOG.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I hate these people. I especially hate when they say, “oh, he’s friendly!” or do this in areas with strict leash laws. I don’t car how friendly your sheltie is; if it comes at my dog, she will try to murder it. A big part of me thinks dog owners should have to undergo training and licensing before they’re allowed to adopt.

        1. 5 Leaf Clover*

          The last t someone said “don’t worry, she’s friendly” to me about their dog I said, “BUT I’M NOT.”

          1. Sled dog mama*

            Yep I reply “mine’s not” when people tell me not to worry because their dog is friendly. (Reactions to that are always fun)

            Mine was attacked by a small dog as a puppy (she’s got the mangled ear to prove it) and again by a large dog later and now at 7 she has ZERO tolerance for other dogs with even a whiff of aggression or poor manners. Another dog comes running up to say hi and she reacts. I do my best to only take her places where other dogs should be on leash and I can manage the interactions but it’s so not fair to her she’s only reacting to the fact that you don’t have your dog under control.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I say this and no one believes me because my dog is human friendly and super cute. And then she tries to murder a shepherd.

          3. Specialk9*

            5 Leaf, I love you. I still am pissed at the person who illegally let his dog off leash, who then attacked my peaceful leashed dogs (and in the process menaced my giant pregnant belly), then screamed “f@$& you!” In my terrified face when I yelled at him to leash his dog.

            I can’t even comprehend the person who screams curses at a very pregnant lady who just was attacked by his aggressive dog. Oh, I’m sorry, does my terror bother you?

        2. WellRed*

          I was out for a walk one day and a woman was walking her dog. As she approached she said, “the dog is not friendly.” I so appreciate that she warns people.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I like this. If there’s any doubt at all, the owner should absolutely warn people.

            I was walking last week and a guy had a pit on a leash, and he was VERY happy to get pets (the dog, not the guy, haha). The guy said “He’s friendly.” And he was, adorably so. But if that dog had been aggressive and the owner hadn’t warned me, and he had run over to me, the situation could have been very unpleasant.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Even if the dog is friendly, people sometimes should be warned! My parents had a dog who never met a stranger and was determined to lick every single person or cat she encountered. We had to tightly hold the leash when kids wanted to pet her because in her enthusiasm for licking their faces, she could easily knock them down.

              1. 5 Leaf Clover*

                I mean, you should always get someone’s permission before you let your dog touch them or come near them at all. I can’t believe how many people just assume everyone is okay with dog “friendliness” just because it’s safe.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Yes, I didn’t just reach out and pet the dog; I said, “Hi cute pupper!” and the dog was like OMG FRIENDLY HUMAN PETS PETS LOVE LOVE OH YEAH YEAH YEAH. He dragged the owner over and all was okay and permitted.

                  Most of the time, if I see a pup and say hi to it, if it doesn’t want anything to do with me, it ignores me. There’s a pit in my neighborhood that is sometimes out front on a chain and it barks when people go by. I walk past it a lot and talk to it every time, and now when I say “Hi pup,” it acts like Oh yeah, I know her, she’ll just keep walking and it doesn’t bark at me anymore. Same with my neighbor’s doggos (whom I have petted) and a doggo on the next block.

                  The dachshunds at this one house, however, will never give up until I am dead, LOL.

                2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                  My neighbor has fairly aggressive dogs (he warned me that one is OK but the other is not). I’ve never tried to pet them or anything but I talk to them in a friendly voice when I’m outside and they have stopped barking at me. But I’m not going to try and escalate that to sticking my hand through the fence to pet the nice one.

              2. Rebecca in Dallas*

                Ugh, yes! My (other dog-reactive) girl LOVES kids, but I get scared that she’ll accidentally knock one down with enthusiastic kisses!

              3. Natalie*

                Yep, we always ask people (contractors, etc) before we let them in our house because our dog, while friendly, is kind of obnoxious and follows people around smelling them. If the person coming in is not okay with that, our dog can go hang out in the bedroom.

            2. Jennifer Thneed*

              I made a mistake recently, reaching out to pet someone’s dog without asking if it was okay. I know better! And I didn’t get bit when the dog snapped at me because I was alert. I think I apologized to the owner.

              But why did I forget my basic safety training? Because that dog was *inside* the cafe, sitting by the table where its person was chatting. And the dog’s owner knew it wasn’t kosher, because she flipped out. She went into a word salad about how I should have asked first (duh); it’s a good dog (nope); it can’t be alone outside because it’ll bite (no kidding); it’s a service dog (nope); she’ll keep the dog under the table surrounded by feet. She seemed truly unaware of all the contradictions…

              Anyway, I accepted her accomodation and went to sit down and do some work. And I kept my eye on that little terrier and when I saw it wander out from under the table I said something. The woman finished up her chatting and left with the dog.

              I grew up with dogs. I intend to have dogs again in my life. I’m not against dogs in any way, but I’m super against crappy dog owners.

          2. TootsNYC*

            I always, always, always ask. I taught my kids to always ask.

            Sometimes the dog answers, and sometimes even before I ask–but I still ask.

            Because maybe the owner needs to keep moving.

          3. Anon for this as well*

            I know there was a campaign to put yellow ribbons on a dog’s collar/leash to mark a dog as unfriendly/unsafe to approach. I wish that had taken off. It felt like such a good safety measure, especially for parents, children, and other dog owners.

            1. Lady Phoenix*

              But that require the owner to REALIZE their dog is not so friendly and to put it on them. Stupid, aggressive, and/or lazy owners won’t give 2 fucks about their movement or adamantly try to tear it down

              1. Anon for this as well*

                Oh yes, definitely. I understand why it wasn’t successful. It just would’ve been a nice visual cue to have, especially for kids. Generally speaking, I think the old “ask before you touch” is the most workable.

            2. Video Gamer Lurker*

              I have friends who ride horses, and they (the horses) have different ribbons tied into their manes and/or tails denoting if the horse kicks/bites/is sick/being trained/other stuff.

              It’s a system that makes sense, and I second the wish the dog leash ribbon thing took off too.

          4. LavaLamp*

            This. I have a mini Aussie Shepard. She’s not tolerant of strangers. I occasionally walk her to the community mail box as she’s very well behaved. The problem is other humans are not well behaved. Case in point:

            I was getting my mail out and was almost done. Dog was sitting on my feet alert and happy to be out with her human. An older gentleman walked in and started making the “ohh puppy” noises while trying to edge around me to get to his own box. I politely asked him to please wait a moment as my dog did not tolerate people in her humans personal space. This guy actually scoffed at me and said she was just a baby, what could she do? At that time she let out her growl which sounds much bigger than she is, and showed some fang. I also pointed out that she can jump very high when needed, and suddenly he was cool waiting. During this whole encounter she never moved from sitting on my feet and being alert.

            Who the hell doesn’t listen when someone tells them they’re dog isn’t friendly?

          5. Allison*

            I can just imagine someone walking their dog in the woods and instead of saying “he’s friendly” to everyone they encounter, they just say “Buster’s kind of a douche.”

          6. Specialk9*

            I’m glad the dog owner warned you.

            For the life of me, I don’t understand people who either lie about their dog being friendly

            ‘yeah! [We approach, their monster tries to attack] oh, I mean, sometimes they…’)

            Or haven’t even thought through dog interactions, like ever, even though they have had the damn thing for years. ‘Is your dog friendly to other dogs?’ [startled look] ‘uhhh…’ (FFS you are walking a *predator animal* around a neighborhood filled with people and have not run a single freaking scenario through your brainpan?!)

            I am very very careful with my dogs, and have so little patience for careless dog owners.

        3. Matilda Jefferies*

          Or when they say “Oh, he’s friendly!” as their lab is charging up to play with my four year old. I mean, that’s great that the dog is friendly, but he’s also the same size as my kid. You’d be alarmed too, if a dog was racing up to you at your eye level, regardless of how friendly or playful the dog is.

          1. Snark*

            Yup. Imagine, basically, a very hyperactive horse running up to you and galloping in circles around you. If there is one among us who wouldn’t find that thoroughly unnerving, they’re a braver man than I.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

              Aaaahhh this gave me flashbacks to the horse and pony that lived in a field that we went walking across. It’s fairly common for walking trails to cross farm land and such here, and everyone so inclined knows to make sure gates are closed again, don’t mess with the sheep, etc. Usually there is a sign warning you if there’s a potentially dangerous animal like a bull around.

              This field didn’t have a sign so we had no idea the horse and pony were in there. But they had obviously learned that humans sometimes bring them treats in their pockets. We got halfway across the field when they appeared, and started circling around us trying to stick their noses in our jacket pockets. My husband did not like that at all but I did not think it would be a good idea to run. I like horses and all but don’t really want to get kicked in the head by a startled horse.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I don’t really trust people’s reassurances that their dog is friendly unless I see for myself. My husband used to take our son to kindergarten on his bike with a little trailer bike for our son on the back. Once on the way home from school, a little dog started running down its driveway toward them, and the owner was calling out, “Oh, don’t worry! He’s friendly!” and the little dog ran straight to my son and bit him hard on the calf. He spent the next ten plus years being terrified of dogs, and at 17 he is only just now calm enough to meet a dog and see whether it’s friendly or not, instead of defaulting to terror.

          3. Viktoria*

            Yup! Conversely, people who allow their toddlers to barrel up to your dog and start petting it on the head! Not a good idea, folks!

            My dog is extremely gentle and meek, but she’s never around kids and I just would rather avoid the whole situation! Sometimes kids freak otherwise calm dogs out, dogs need to be specifically socialized to be safe with children and even then need to be carefully monitored.

          4. animaniactoo*

            That and “Yes, but I’m allergic.”

            I have to say that line too many times. And always always they immediately apologize and pull their dog up short – but it’s almost always too late and their dog is AT me, and a scratch from the right breed can send me to the ER. In the meantime, I still need to dump whatever I’m wearing in the laundry as soon as possible and wash any areas of skin that have come in contact with the dog hair/dander to prevent having a milder reaction.

            Not to mention that even if I weren’t allergic, it should still be my choice as to whether I want to risk getting a friendly accidental scratch or have dog hair on my clothes. Maybe I’m not allergic but I’m going home to my child who is? Why should I have to go through this extra effort because YOU decided it was okay for your dog to come right up into my personal space?

            1. Allison*

              I’ve known people who insisted that their snoogy-woggy is a special dog that no one’s allergic to. I don’t totally doubt it, but I take it with a grain of salt.

              1. animaniactoo*

                Well, it depends. Hypoallergenic dogs (and cats) are generally breeds that very very very few people are sensitive to. It is true that I am far more reactive to some breeds than others, but it’s also true that I’m allergic to both the hair and the dander and therefore so-called furless breeds have been ones that I still react to. Most people are allergic to the fur but not the dander and will do fine with snoggy woggy. But that still doesn’t mean free reign.

                Once, a long time ago, I found a miniature poodle that I didn’t react to. I am still not sure if it is mini poodles or that particular dog or even how that particular dog was cared for.

                1. Allison*

                  I’m allergic to dander, so I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to pretty much all dogs and cats to some degree, but some breeds might cause stronger reactions than others.

                  Again, I don’t completely doubt that some pets might not cause any reaction, but I’d also figure some people are biased towards their pets and want to believe they’re perfect, everyone will love them, and they’d never cause a single problem for anyone.

        4. Rebecca in Dallas*

          YES! I have no qualms about being rude to dog owners who do this. “Oh, they’re just playing! She just wants to sniff your dog!” Well, my dog wants to eat your dog! I promise you, I know my dog’s behavior, believe me if I tell you she’s not friendly!

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Good read! That’s exactly what I deal with. My pit is not going to get the benefit of the doubt in a scuffle with another dog – I’m scared of losing her. She’s a very good dog and she’s wonderful around humans – dogs are the issue. :(

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        True story: off-leash dog in a wheelchair sees me and my (on-leash) dog, comes barreling towards us. I say to the owners, “Please call your dog!” “But he’s in a wheelchair!” “His teeth aren’t.”

      3. Colorado*

        This is a huge pet peeve of mine too. My one of five dogs loves her pack, she is alpha and watches over everyone. Others dogs, no. That’s why she is kept on a leash outside of our farm. And nothing is worse than a dog fight when one is on a leash and they get tangled up.

      4. GigglyPuff*

        Thank you from someone who also has a leash reactive dog towards other dogs. Unfortunately she also has issues with hoodies & face covering hats, so now that it’s winter, I just get the nasty looks from everyone.

        Weirdly, when I do take her places (I go in off times so fewer dogs at the coffee shop patio, and she tends to settle down in public places, to get her acclimated, yes, she likes it and we don’t stay long), she has a full body harness (landed on the curb on her spine in her really horrible days when she was lunging on a walk), with handles and everything so I can control her better and it’s black, so looks all tactical. Many people actually leave her alone (yay!) because they think she’s a service dog, from the harness.

        1. Another person*

          Yup, I forgot today about the Winter-Hats-Make-(Some)-People-Evil problem with my dog this morning and he tried to lunge/bark at a lady who was just trying to walk to work.

      5. Lora*

        Oh god. I apologize retroactively if my Newfie ever approached you. She WAS friendly, super-friendly, didn’t mind the necklace of small dogs chomping onto her ruff one bit. She was also 150 pounds of drool and fur and while she DID know to back off from an unfriendly dog when commanded, she usually wanted to at least try to make a new friend. She would approach a dog/person, dragging me in her wake, while I shouted, “she’s friendly! really!” and begged her to stop. Only if the dog started to growl or bark AND I yelled, “BACK UP!” would she slow her roll.

        I rarely let her leave the yard for this reason. I gave up on walking her around the neighborhood. I have a pretty big yard and Newfs are essentially speed bumps in their later years anyways.

      6. shep*

        YES. Thank you.

        I don’t dare take my dog on walks anymore because of people like this.

        Despite tons of active training and socialization (and coming to my wit’s end) over the first several years of her life, she is still terrified of people/animals/things she doesn’t know. She’s a small German Shepherd but overall a “large dog.” She WILL fear-bite, regardless of how “friendly” your dog is. Get your animal on a leash. Smh.

      7. Health Insurance Nerd*

        I’ve only been a dog owner for the past two years, and I have to say where I am people are incredibly great about following the etiquette of dog interaction. People will tell me if their dog is/isn’t friendly, ask to approach mine, and are just generally respectful. You have a responsibility to keep your dog safe, but to also keep other dogs safe from your dog if need be- it’s really unfortunate that there are people who don’t respect that.

        *and also, before I got a dog I was one of those people who was not a fan of pits. Since I became a regular at the dog park they have become one of my favorite breeds, I cannot get over how sweet they are!

      8. PlainJane*

        I have retired racing dogs, 2 of which see small furry animals of all sorts as food. We used to take them to a dog park that had separate areas for big and small dogs. All was well till someone let their tiny dog play in the big dog area. When I said something, she said, “Oh, my dog loves big dogs.” I told her my dogs love small dogs–for lunch. She didn’t get the hint, so we had to take our dogs home. Deliver me from selfish, dumb dog owners.

      9. paul*

        I’ve never understood that; like OK your dog wants to play but *mine* is restrained and doesn’t. Control your dog!

        I actually knew a guy whose dog (a mastiff) flat out killed a dog that (according to *that* dog’s owner) playfully nipped the mastiff..small little dog, and the mastiff just bit down hard on it’s back. One good bite, one good shake and the dog died en route to the vet.

    2. Allypopx*

      Dog owners drive me nuts. No one listens to me when I say my dog is not friendly and isn’t good with other dogs. “Oh they’re just playing” No, they aren’t, and you’re going to sue me if your dog gets hurt, so back. up.

      If that dog hurts someone or another dog both Jane and the company could be in hot water.

      1. Snark*

        The other dog owners that drive me nuts are the ones who are like “can they say hi?” and then their dog is an aggressive alpha beast all over mine, who’s a submissive little rescue dog who only in the last year or two got confident enough around other dogs to not piddle.

          1. Snark*

            One guy just laughed while his aggressive 90lb-ish German Shepherd tried to mount her at a dog park. She’s a 40lb border collie mix. “Dude, get your dog the hell off mine.” “He must think she’s sexy, LAWL.”

            Yeah, ha ha, asshat. Buddy was still giggling at his own droll wit when I body-slammed the dog off her and alpha-r0lled him.

                1. Snark*

                  The flipped his lid and threatened to call the cops. It was just more escalation than called for – the hip-check was all that was really needed.

        1. k8*

          lol reminds me of an exchange i had a few years back– I had a labrador at the time (he’s since passed :c) and we came across another lab and its owner walking. the owner asked if my dog was friendly. I said yes, we walked a little closer for a sniff . . . and then her dog flipped and attacked my dog. my dog *was* friendly, but apparently hers wasn’t . . . .

          1. Snark*

            “He must have done something to set Dorkley off. He’s normally so friendly!” – every oblivious owner of a badly trained, aggressive dog

            1. TL -*

              oh I was walking my professor’s dog after summer break one time and he had apparently gotten leash reactive over the break (he was a growing pup) so I said yes he’s friendly but he wasn’t!
              Pup growled and snapped and I pulled him away and apologized and then we stayed away from dogs or in the off-leash woods (where he was fine.) I felt so bad! H

      2. Been there*

        I was one of those people who wanted my dog to meet your unfriendly dog. When we were training her as a puppy I asked neighbor’s walking their dogs if we could ‘meet’. One said that her dog wasn’t friendly with other dogs and I said that’s ok, if you don’t mind I’d like to approach with mine, but not let them them make contact. I want her to learn how a dog who’s not friendly reacts so she can learn who not to approach. They thought I was a little strange, but indulged the controlled ‘meet’. When their dog growled a warning and mine backed right off and went about her puppy business well away from the ‘unfriendly’ dog. Important lesson learned safely that day :)

        Here’s the difference in my scenario vs. what you are describing. I did have owners, albeit skeptical, consent and we all went into it with a clear understanding of the dog personalities at play. The added bonus is if my dog ever ran into yours she would pick up on the warning signals right quick and give your dog a wide berth.

      1. LavaLamp*

        I may or may not have loudly told a man to pet his damn dog in Bass Pro Shop last month. I was looking at archery equipment and he was looking at rifle scopes. I asked if she was friendly and petted her and the poor thing was so starved for attention she about dove into my arms. She kept crying after I left and he kept yelling at her. I finally said really loudly that if he’d just put a hand on the dog she’d be quite. Low and behold I was right. He slunk off after that. Jerk.

        Granted I was mad at this guy because his dog had NO collar or tags, and was still a tiny puppy and probably not through her puppy shots if he even got them for her.

          1. Lady Phoenix*

            Some shelters do have evaluations, the BREW shelter also checked out our HOUSE to make sure it was ok.

            But that is the problem… SOME do this, not ALL.

            1. Lindsay J*

              I feel like there are two wild extremes with very few in between.

              A lot of the government run shelters will pretty much just give you the dog in exchange for $50, no questions asked. (This is how my family wound up with a chow/german shepherd mix that bit my younger brother when I was younger.)

              Then on the other hand there are the rescues that want to do home visits, interview 5 character witnesses, won’t adopt a dog to you if you have a job outside the house, and want $700 adoption fees.

  9. Allypopx*

    It’s worth noting that service animals and emotional support animals are not the same thing, and the latter tends to have far fewer protections, legally speaking. So HR shouldn’t worry about being on shaky ground legally. Service animals tend to be very well and specifically trained, and no one is legally required to be subjected to this kind of behavior.

    I have an aggressive dog and we’re working with a trainer but right now I’d never subject other people to her.

  10. MuseumChick*

    What a jerk. I love dogs. I would love to work in a dog-friendly office. This is someone abusing the system and I’m amazed that Jane’s manager has let it go on this long.

    I think you are well within your rights to speak up to both HR and Jane. I would add that if other co-works come to you to complain about Jane’s dog you should direct them to speak to HR or Jane’s manager. Often, if enough complaints come in the situation will be dealt with fairly quickly.

    Additionally, and this is something you only have a small amount of control over, everyone needs to stop enabling Jane by allowing the dog to be in meetings, be off leash, etc. Call out this behavior in the moment in bland way, such as “Jane, Rover just nipped at (insert name). Please take him out of this meeting.”

    If she brings up the service dog thing again, layout facts for her. She asked after all so supply her with information! And add, “The dog has to be well behaved at ALL times. It cannot bark, growl, nip, bit or act aggressively. Otherwise they can be asked to leave.”

  11. Mike C.*

    but do not want to cause issues or drama

    Regardless of the tactics you wish to pursue, the issues and drama have already been caused.

    1. MuseumChick*

      This is a good point. OP, you are not causing any drama. Jane is the one causing it. You are literally trying to get the drama to stop.

    2. TootsNYC*

      also, think of the drama when her dog does bite someone, and HR from HQ comes down and says “no dogs at all.”

      Point this out to all the dog owners, and get them to back you up when you talk to the most sensible local manager to strategize.

  12. Lynca*

    I doubt she has it registered as a service animal. She apparently complied with HR when they brought it up and was present in your building. Now she isn’t because she thinks she can get away with it.

    Bring it up with your manager or the offsite HR (which is still your HR) and let them know the dog isn’t complying with the rules set up for allowing dogs in the workplace. They’re setting themselves up for a serious liability if they don’t deal with it.

    1. Avid reader infrequent commenter*

      Honestly, I hope she doesn’t have it registered. The persistence of registries in the US, well-intended or not, has lead to a wealth of misinformation and enabled many loophole-chasers. Registration in the US does not make a service animal (neither does a vest).

      1. Lynca*

        I had family members that trained service animals for the blind for years so I know. I’m just skeptical she even took the effort. Seems like a situation that would resolve if HR offsite and management on site just enforced the rules they apparently have in place.

  13. Decima Dewey*

    If it helps, my library system has recently issued guidelines about support dogs. One thing the guidelines say is that the dog must be under the control of the person it supports *at all times.* Which means that if Fido snaps at someone, Jane has to rein the dog in. Or leave with the dog, whichever.

    1. Decima Dewey*

      Replying to myself: the guidelines also say we can’t ask what functions the support animal performs, or ask to see a demonstration. But we can order a patron and their service dog out if it threatens other patrons or staff.

      1. blackcat*

        And that seems in line with how you treat patrons: if someone threatens other patrons or staff, I presume (and would hope!) that you are able to ask the patron to leave.

        A lot of these people want their dogs to be able to go everywhere people can go. Fine. Then I’m going to hold your dog to the same standards as I hold people. I’m not going to tolerate a person growling or nipping at me, so I’m not going to tolerate it from a dog.

      2. Specialk9*

        Hunh, other people posted that ascending to the ADA, you can ask what service the dog provides, but not what medical reason you need the dog. Though… I’ll admit that seems to be a Venn diagram with fair overlap.

        1. fposte*

          I think Decima’s talking about her library’s guidelines, though, which are likely intentionally more generous than the law. You’re always free to have a *less* restrictive policy.

  14. Avid reader infrequent commenter*

    She can “register” it all she wants. In the US that doesn’t mean a thing. The legal definition of a service animal is not a vest or a registration, it’s a dog (or mini horse) that performs a task to assist someone with a disability. That’s it. And as the OP said, as soon as that animal is aggressive, that protection goes out the window. If she wants to claim it’s an ESA, that only protects her with regards to living arrangements and air travel.

        1. Brydon*

          well and it is that the dog is TRAINED to do a task to assist someone with a disability. So a dog whose presence makes someone with anxiety better it doesn’t count if petting the dog calms the person down that doesn’t count either. It has to be task trained to mitigate the disability. Also my seizure alert dog is no longer a service dog when my roommate has him out and about. He is trained to alert to my seizures and deal with my disabilities. So a guide dog wouldn’t have any protection under the ADA if the handler isnt visually disabled :)

          Just some more detail as this is one of my soapbox issues.

  15. AnotherAlison*

    I’ve never been in a dog friendly office, so these letters always baffle me somewhat. I can understand a shop dog or dogs at a small business. But multiple pets of all kinds where the owners take them to meetings seems like it would be a huge challenge to manage. Bringing your dog on a leash to a meeting with the CEO? I know the OP is only wanting to deal with this one problem dog, but I wonder if the general policy is a little too loose.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Leaving it unattended at her desk would be worse. If you bring an animal to work, you better keep it under your control at all times.

  16. Sessie*

    As I understand the law (in the US), you’re not allowed to ask a ton of questions about service animals, but you ARE allowed to ask:
    – Is your dog a service dog to assist with a disability?
    – What are the specific tasks your dog is trained to do?

    I think it should be obvious from her answers to those questions that her dog is NOT a service dog. I work on a university campus and we are having a growing problem with the proliferation of emotional support animals and “not really service dogs, but wearing service vests” dogs…

    I absolutely want emotional support animals and service animals available to those who need them. And I hate when some people take advantage of the system so they can bring their guinea pig into their dorm room. That hurts us all. :/

    1. fposte*

      Interestingly, an employer can be allowed to ask for more than that, but you’re right that in most spaces those are the two questions.

      However, I think the service dog issue is a bit of a red herring here. She’s not trying to get leeway to bring her dog into an office that doesn’t allow dogs, and even if it really was a service dog the employers could refuse to allow an aggressive animal to return. It seems like she’s throwing it out as a smokescreen and the employers may be falling for it.

  17. LavaLamp*

    Oh this is so irritating. I just adopted a now 10 and a half week old German Shepard and I can’t imagine how much of a butt he’d be if I wasn’t teaching him how to dog appropriately.

    Some dogs don’t like to be around everyone and it’s really not fair to this dog that he’s probably forced into a situation that makes him stressed out and thusly more bitey. My poodle was this way. Actually bit the vet so badly she needed stitches while coming out of anesthesia for a tooth cleaning.

    This lady needs to leave her dog at home or a doggy daycare or something where he’s in a safe place and not attacking people and other animals on a daily basis. I’d tell her that just because the HR person who told her that rule is no longer there, the rule doesn’t just magically disappear.

  18. rosiebyanyothername*

    This is my inner cat person speaking, but why are people so obsessed with bringing dogs to work?? I don’t get it.

    1. Snark*

      Because it can be rather nice, if your dog is chill, to have your critter curled up in your office, get slurps throughout the day, go out for a walk around lunchtime, etc. But that’s contingent on your dog actually being chill. Mine, who is a border collie with a little voice whispering “HERD ALL THE THINGS” in one ear at all times, is not a candidate for placidly sitting in my office all day. Neither is an aggressive little lapdog.

      1. AKchic*


        My doggo would make a great paper shredder and envelope licker. Unfortunately, she would also be the main suspect for any lunch thievery. She’d also bay and bark whenever someone entered the office (she’s a tattletale) and enthusiastically greet the new person. Anyone sitting in the reception area would get a new hairstyle and possibly have their make-up “lab-tested” (she’s half chocolate lab). And everyone would be forced to snuggle with her at naptime.

      2. Winifred*

        I bring my American Bulldog to work most days. I work in a church office with not a lot of foot traffic and just a few coworkers. Petey follows me around the office and gets me out for walks, and snoozes all day, and mooches around during the weekly staff meeting. But he is a very mellow, quiet, friendly dog.

        I do NOT bring my Border Collie mix, who is very fearful of people until she gets to know them, and the fear is manifested by shrill nonstop barking.

        We like having Petey around and he enjoys getting to know different people — as a rescue dog that’s a good thing for him to learn. He is distraction though, and on days I need to concentrate, I leave him home.

      3. Lora*

        My Pyr would be perfect for everyone who complains about the thermostat / office being too cold. He is happy to be a foot or lap warmer (he prefers lap, feet petting only counts as half) for hours on end, and will glare at you resentfully if you move.

        He has the added bonus effect of putting the fear of Dog in little Napoleon-complex beasts like the OP describes. All the aggressive untrained little Min Pins, chihuahuas and terriers which will bark and snarl at Dobermans and GSDs, quake in fear when they see him. He’s actually very sweet, but when his LGD instincts kick in, he will soft-mouth and nudge smaller animals Away from whatever he’s decided is his flock.

        Unfortunately, he covers everything in a layer of white fur no matter how recently he’s been groomed and he has the selective obedience and counter-surfing habits characteristic of the breed, so he’s not allowed in any office.

        1. AKchic*

          Does he also enjoy trashcan-perusing? If so, I have a fellow counter-surfer and selective obedience friend.

          She loves bacon :) And cheese and applesnacks. And sticks. Cheesus Crust does she love sticks. The last tenants had their firewood supply in the dog run at our house and we had to move it because she was bringing firewood into the house every time she went potty and then would chew an entire piece of firewood within 10 minutes. We have beautiful trees in our backyard and when the wind really picks up, we sometimes get big branches falling. Or she brings home 10 foot “sticks” from her walks on the neighborhood trails. She will try to bring those into the house! No thanks. 10 foot tall “sticks” don’t need to be brought into the house (or onto my bed!).

          1. Lora*

            He does. The butter and cheese wrappers are his very favorite. Applesnacks not so much though. Sticks he is meh about, I WISH he would bring in firewood! I trained him to chew on Kong toys only, but for a while he had a thing about leather. Anything made of leather. Couches, shoes, jackets, anything.

            1. AKchic*

              Oh my goodness – Maddie loves gouda! And shoes. She is a chewer. We went through 16 pairs of shoes last winter because my kids are lazy and wouldn’t put their shoes away after coming home and the dog was still a cute puppy. *sigh* Then she found my ren fair boots. She loves lefts for some reason. Left boots/shoes are ALWAYS the first to go.
              The kids have finally learned to put their footwear in the garage or the coat closet though. Still working on the lunchboxes. Both the youngest and my husband have a habit of tossing their lunchboxes on the kitchen counter or the dining room table (where Maddie can get them). And of course she smells leftovers and has to chew her way into them while people are in bathrooms or otherwise occupied.
              We also like rope. Tug of war is a favorite.

        2. Specialk9*

          Sadly, it’s *only* the giant Shetland pony sized dogs my 20-pound dog gets dominant with. If another dog could legit have a tiny keg around its neck and find lost skiiers, my little guy wants to bristle and act tough (but not bite, though I monitor closely, ready to intervene). Anything below that, mine is the dog with the playbow who gets other dogs happy-playing. It’s this tiny suicidal streak. Fortunately giant dogs are usually all “meh whatever”.

    2. Squeeble*

      I can see how it’s a nice perk–you don’t have to pay for a dog walker or worry about your dog needing to go out while you’re away. It does seem like a hard thing to get right, though. How any company manages to have an office where no one has dog allergies, no one is afraid of dogs, and all the dogs are well-behaved is beyond me.

      1. rosiebyanyothername*

        That’s my take–even if you have like the Mother Teresa of dogs, there’s still likely someone in the office who will be negatively affected by it. I had a professor who would always bring her dogs to office hours, so meeting with her was always challenging, because the dogs were particularly barky/yappy, and other students would always be coming in and out because OMG A PUPPY!!

      2. MarsJenkar*

        Best guesses for the first two:

        – Many of the workplaces that have dog-friendly offices already work with animals in some way.
        – For others, it may be that all job listings for the workplace clearly specify that it is a dog-friendly office, allowing people to self-select out if they have a problem.

        1. Recruit-o-rama*

          Why should someone with severe allergies (medical condition) have to “self-select” out of job opportunities where having animals present is not a necessary job or business need?

            1. Recruit-o-rama*

              Right, other people with medical conditions who should not have to forego employment opportunities because other people want (not need) their pets with them all the time.

          1. Specialk9*

            There are places where that is the norm. Generally if you catch whiffs of patchouli, there are dogs around. Though I wish more hippies had mini horses..

      3. DOGGOGO*

        Oh yes, it is indeed a nice perk. I have a private office and keep my 8 year old girl underneath my desk so she can lay her head on my feet and take a nap. During the day we go outside. Office is tucked away so that the guy who has allergies (and has more seniority than I) can avoid the room at all costs. Now if I had to share a room with someone who had a mild allergy I would gladly give up my privilege for their comfort. Those are not willing to give up that privilege for another person’s comfort/health/etc. are plain annoying.

    3. OhNo*

      I am approximately 200% cat person, but from what I’ve heard it can make things a lot easier for dog owners. One of my former coworkers got a puppy last year, and with things like paying for doggy day care and having to stop home in the middle of the day to let the poor thing out to pee, I could see the ability to take the pup to work being a great help.

      1. paul*

        I strongly suspect *most* dogs don’t need doggie daycare. Goodness knows, I’ve had dogs most of my life, and never used one.

        Granted we’ve always–even back when I was a kid–adopted older dogs not puppies.

      1. OverboilingTeapot*

        Yeah, you’re pretty much limited to used bookstores and bodegas if you want a cat-workplace (=^・ェ・^=)

  19. Alton*

    I feel bad for the dog. If he’s growling and barking a lot, there’s a good chance he’s not happy and would rather be at home.

  20. Midwest*

    What’s the deal with this dogs at work trend? I would nope out of that so fast. Was attacked by a cousin’s dog when I was 5. I’m still not a fan of dogs of any kind, but large dogs legitimately scare me. Being close to one makes my heart start pounding like crazy. (Don’t try to convince me that your dog is a gentle giant; I’m not having it.)

    1. Emi.*

      Yeah, it’s like offices with lots of sarcastic ribbing or swearing or dirty jokes. Maybe everyone likes it now, or maybe a couple people hate and keep their mouths shut, and anyway you don’t want to make less-enthusiastic new hires choose between pretending they love it or being the newbie who ruins everyone’s fun. Or you shouldn’t, anyway.

      1. Snark*

        Yeah, on balance, this is just one of those deals best avoided. I’ve worked in dog-friendly offices and found them acceptable, but there’s so many good reasons why not….why bother?

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      True Fact: In the US, more people go to the ER for dog bites than for falls every year.

      I’m not a dog person (fear from aggressive childhood neighbor dog we were forced to watch after school to “be neighborly”), not interested in your protestations about how *your* dog is different, and also do not get this trend at all.

  21. Marie*

    Wouldn’t it be easier to point out the company may fay a lawsuit if the dog bites someone or another animal. This might make them act quickly or I’d anonymously call Animal control if the dog is such a distraction chances are it could be anyone in the office that called. You have a right to work without being bitten by animals (unless of course you work with animals then it’s an occupation hazard but that doesn’t seem like the case here).

  22. frostipaws*

    How about asking that all office dogs hold the AKC Community Canine title? Any dog who can’t pass the test, can’t come to work.

    1. the.kat*

      Ooooh, I really like this idea! You could say that the office welcomes any and all AKC canine good citizens. To pass the test, the dog has to be able to be quiet and well-behaved around others – both dogs and humans.

      1. Anion*

        A pit bull with its Good Citizen certificate killed an infant a few months ago.

        It is NOT a guarantee of any kind, especially when the testing is so subjective.

  23. anon for this*

    I used to have a coworker with a similar dog, which would bite people and barked and growled all the time, particularly at clients. I also found the dog very distracting because people would feed it, talk to it, and play with it all day, including throwing balls straight over my desk. This wasn’t a dog-friendly office–the owner was an intern who just figured she would see if she could get away with it. After she left I discovered that management didn’t like the dog either, they just were too passive to do anything about it.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What??? Did she ask and they said yes even though they didn’t want the dog there? Because who brings their dogs into an office without express permission to do so?

      Wait, don’t answer that. I can name at least five people I know.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      When she started throwing balls over my desk that’d have been a very bad situation. I’d have told her stop right now. That’s so unprofessional beyond words.

  24. Recruit-o-rama*

    I think pets at work is a well intentioned idea that is actually just a terrible idea, I wish companies would not do this. I have severe, severe allergies. I am totally willing to put up with my allergies or work somewhere else for a legitimate service dog who is there to support someone with a disability. I am NOT willing to forego work opportunities or comfort in public places so people can have their pets with them at work or at the grocery store. I understand dogs are happier when they are not alone all day. My kids would be happier to be with me all day too, but I would not subject my co-workers to that. Before they were school aged, I had them in day care of pre-school. There are doggy day cares and dog walkers, and I know they can be expensive, but that is your choice, as a dog owner. Dogs at work as a perk needs to go away because it is very exclusionary. I don’t hate dogs, I wish I was not so allergic, but I cannot stand having people’s pets all over the place, because I literally cannot breath when the dander builds up.

    1. Chandler Bing*

      Totally agree, it’s just something that will always cause issues in the long run. I wonder if it’s a US thing – haven’t really heard of dog-friendly offices here in the UK, short of the odd solo office dog.

    2. Brownie*

      Seconded. I’m super allergic to cats, so the trend of having a store cat means I can’t shop at those stores anymore. And that sucks because usually those are small businesses I’d like to support, especially bookstores, but if I can’t shop there without breathing problems then I have to go to the big box stores instead.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      I’m old fashioned or “behind the times” because I think dogs don’t belong in an office unless they’re truly a service dog. A real, trained service dog and not just a pet that they claim is a service animal.

      I had an anaphylactic reaction because of cat dander exposure and am allergic to dogs too.

    4. Anion*

      Agreed. You chose to get a dog. It’s not your co-workers’ responsibility to help you care for it.

      (I love dogs. I have a dog. But she’s a dog, not a person.)

  25. Cassie*

    Your company should have serious motivation to handle this fast. I learned after an unavoidable interaction with a stray dog that dog bites are reported to the state. I had a govt. nurse breathing down my neck, demanding that I get rabies shots, even after my doctor said it hadn’t broken the skin and the shots weren’t necessary.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This happened to me when my own cat bit me. I had already buried her and this woman at the ER kept insisting, “You may have to exhume her.” I wasn’t having it–I had lost my pet that day, who had up-to-date rabies shots; here is the name of her vet if you want to check it the f*ck out; nobody is digging her poor sad little body back up so go the hell away.

      I did get a letter from Animal Control a week or so later inquiring about it. I called them up and explained the situation and they were very nice. No need to do anything more, they said.

      1. Marie*

        Are cat bites reportable in the US? I have been bitten by my cat several times, mostly because she likes to chew on my hand as a comfort thing but she has sharp teeth and sometimes breaks the skin. I can’t see anyone bothering to report one unless they were bitten by someone else’s cat but even then in the UK the owner is not legally responsible for the actions of their cat (though they are legally responsible for the actions on a dog). We don’t have rabies in the UK so that might be part of the reason it isn’t such a big deal but in America are people legally responsible for their cats actions?

        1. Perse's Mom*

          Reporting is more limited to stray cat bites (unknown vaccine status and therefore unknown rabies status), I think.

          I would guess (but don’t know for certain) that cat bites where the owner is known are covered under homeowners insurance here, just as dog bites are. Given cat bites have a pretty high chance of infection (with full puncture type bites anyway), and given our crap healthcare, there’s a reasonable risk of the bitee needing medical attention and therefore an insurance claim could result.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, pretty much this, but I told this woman it was MY cat, not a stray. I think she had to check it out because it came across as “animal bite.” What pissed me off is that she wouldn’t listen to me.

            Marie, you should be cautious about letting her bite you. The infection was not rabies, but cats carry some pretty nasty bacteria in their mouths and you do not want to go through what I went through. It has been a year-and-a-half already and my finger is only just now getting back to normal.

            Plus the staggering amount of antibiotics they pumped into me had very itchy side effects, if you know what I mean.

            1. Marie*

              Just to clarify I don’t just let her bite me but sometimes she does, I have had since she was about 8 weeks old and she is nearly 11 now, she has bitten me three times in her life. Once at the vets when she was getting a vaccine (the vets response was to wash out the wound and give me some antiseptic cream she kept on standby as she frequently gets scratched and bitten as an occupation hazard), and twice because she went to chew on my hand and broke the skin. I never saw it as a big deal she’s a house cat and doesn’t go outside and kill things so there is less chance of nasty bacteria. I just washed the injury and put antiseptic cream over the area. Of course people in the UK don’t want to bitten by animals either, mainly because it can hurt but I think we are less panicked than in the US because rabies isn’t a problem. I never considered cats a problem (though a friend of mine once had to go to hospital when he was scratched by a rabbit so deeply he needed stitches).

    2. paul*

      This is why I didn’t report it theo ne time my dog bit me. It was a crappy situation; someone had shot him (probably a 22, maybe a high end air gun?) while he was in our back yard, and I was trying to get him bundled up to take to the vet and he was freaking out.

      Just didn’t wanna deal with it and no way in hell was I letting him QT him or cut his head off to test–yeah he’d had his shots but I wanted to play it safe ya know?

  26. Letter Writer*

    OP here. Thank you all for your constructive comments. I love dogs, and having found a dog friendly workplace is a dream come true for me. Like some mentioned, I would indeed be heartbroken if my complaint led to banning all dogs. We’re a supportive and positive workplace, that bonds well in a professional and not too chummy way. Of course there’s the occasional bark, but all dogs that are brought in, apart from Cinnamon, are well trained and add calmness and joy to the day.

    Complaining is an issue for me though. I have very strong anxiety (particularly in the social variety) and fairly prominent depression. When I bring up issues to a manager, I feel like I’m either overreacting or stepping out of line. A supervisor snapped at me in a rush period last week and I asked my manager to speak with her, as it caused me distress. No more complaining from me for a while, after that. I wonder if I should be strong enough to just complain anyway and understand that it won’t fall back on me and it’s just the anxiety keeping me from it, or if I should gather testimony from others to help back up my complaints. Or should I just anonymously drop a note and/or link to this post and the comments?

    As for finding a new job, that’s easier said than done here. I’m still in college, have a lot of monthly debts to pay, and cannot afford a job that pays any less. Jobs here for someone without a degree are pretty much minimum wage, and I already quit a higher paying job for this one because of how insanely toxic it was. When I say toxic, I mean the kind of posts to Alison that Buzzfeed makes lists about. I like this job a lot and love the dogs, I just wish that Jane would train her dog or get him out of the office.

    1. Snark*

      Please believe me when I say you’re 100% not overreacting or stepping out of line. If you don’t raise this, the dog will bite someone, it will be reported to the state, and your employer will simply ban all dogs from the workplace because it’s a liability. This is such a reasonable, obvious request that you should not hesitate to make it.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This isn’t “complaining.” This is you raising a serious work-related problem that could have liability for your company. Would you think you were complaining if you raised a serious issue you found in a project or relayed info about an upset customer? This is basically the same as that — you’re helping your company problem-solve.

      1. LBK*

        Yes yes yes. Raising important issues is not complaining. I’d argue that you’re actually not doing your job if you don’t bring this up.

    3. 5 Leaf Clover*

      Have you considered complaining via email? That way your nerves don’t get in the way, and bonus paper trail.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I know it’s hard, but by learning to complain appropriately you’re developing a crucial skill that will serve you well as your career progresses.

      Don’t do an anonymous email with a link here – that stuff makes people paranoid. Stick to the facts – the dog has nipped at people, was previously banned, etc. You’re just reporting facts. You’re not out to get someone in trouble, but you feel unsafe with this animal around. You’re doing everyone a favor by being assertive on this.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Seconding this. I have fairly serious anxiety too, and I really wish I’d learned how to express this kind of concern in the workplace earlier. And “this dog growls and bites” is a relatively straightforward issue to practice this on–I promise you that no workplace that’s even halfway reasonable will judge you for that!

        If it helps, you can work out what you want to say beforehand so you don’t stammer over it. One or two sentences should do it.

      2. paul*

        Amen Katie the Fed!

        If I’d known how to complain appropriately at a young age my life would be much smoother for it.

      3. PlainJane*

        “By learning to complain appropriately you’re developing a crucial skill that will serve you well as your career progresses”–Katie the Fed is exactly right. Learning how to raise concerns appropriately and effectively is both a work skill and a life skill.

      4. OverboilingTeapot*

        It could also help to think about the fact that you’re not only pointing out this issue on your own behalf, but other peoples’? Think of it as advocating, not complaining.

    5. MuseumChick*

      I feel about regarding anxiety and complaining. I have the same issue. It may help if you think of this as a safety issue. What is Cinnamon bits someone and draws blood? It’s perfectly reasonable to raise this safety concern to HR/Jane’s boss/your boss.

      You can also fine tune what you want to say before going in. Something like “I noticed something that I’m not sure in on your radar so I wanted to bring it up just in case. Jane’s dog has been acting aggressive including (inset 1 – 2 incidents). I don’t know all the details but I know when (old HR person was here) Jane was told not to bring Cinnamon in anymore. I’m worried that if Cinnamon bits someone again and injures them it could be a bring problem for the company.”

      Or something to that effect.

      Also, (I posted this up thread but I’m going to put it here as well). Jane asked you about service dogs so use this to your advantage, tell how dogs become services dogs and add “Of course they cannot growl, bark, nip, bite or act aggressively. It’s one of the exceptions to services dogs protection under the law.” You are simply providing her with the information she asked for! :)

    6. Cuddles Chatterji*

      Maybe reframe it this way for your own sake and to get your company’s attention and minimize your feelings that you’re complaning: an aggressive dog is itself a safety hazard for you, your coworkers, other office dogs, and any clients that might be exposed to the dog. And not to mention a lawsuit waiting to happen.

      IANAL, but I’d also be curious about your local laws regarding aggressive dogs and reporting bites to the animal control or other authorities. In some areas, it could be that after the second “committed bite”, the dog could be up for euthanasia. Wonder how your coworker would feel about that…

      1. Snark*

        Yeah. I view this on par with reporting “hey, a step broke on the south stairwell” or “the big conference room is full of bees” or “there is a llama on the loose in the parking lot spitting at people.” It’s a safety and liability issue, not an interpersonal one.

        1. Cuddles Chatterji*

          Exactly. I know when my dog accidentally bit me (a deep, painful puncture wound), I had to get a tetanus shot because I wasn’t current, and I had to take antibiotics. When the same dog intentionally bit another person (not a puncture, but good scrape that removed some layers of skin), the victim went to the doctor and I paid her medical costs. Part of me wonders if that could still come back to figuratively bite me someday if the victim had emotional damage as a result of the event and decided to come after me. The aggressive dog’s owner, as well as the company, probably wouldn’t want something like that looming over their heads. I can’t say I’d recommend it.

          If some awful reason there is a “next time” that the dog bites someone at work, I would encourage that victim to report it as a safety incident–maybe it’s an OSHA recordable? Dunno–and go to their doctor and get details regarding the dogs vaccinations, license #, etc. That’s my 2 cents, anyway.

      2. TootsNYC*

        In some areas, it could be that after the second “committed bite”, the dog could be up for euthanasia. Wonder how your coworker would feel about that…

        In fact, this is something you can directly to, or the dog-owner community in your office can do, in dealing directly with Jane.

        Point out that every time she brings the dog to the office, she increases the chances that the dog will bite someone and get put down. (in some localities, even bites of other dogs can trigger this–this is normally a local law, so do some research)

        And start saying, “Are you crazy? I think it’s irresponsible of you to put Cinnamon at risk like that…”

        And you can all of you start saying to her, “Poor Cinnamon–she’s clearly so stressed here. It would be kinder to her to leave her at home.”

        Use peer pressure!

    7. Bean Pole*

      LW, please don’t view raising this important safety issue as complaining … this dog is clearly unhappy and stressed out in the work environment and this will lead to a fearful action (biting!). The dog’s owner is sadly blind to the stress the animal is exhibiting. You’ll be doing the dog a favor (by forcing its owner to keep it at home) and your colleagues a favor by having this dog once again banned from the office. Your colleague sounds self-absorbed but that is her problem.

    8. TootsNYC*

      Recruit other dog owners to speak up with you (or instead of you).

      Because it is true that if Cinnamon bites someone, there is a VERY high risk that Headquarters will come and say “no more dogs, period, period, ever.”

      So inorder to protect this perq, dog owners need to police their own. And it may take a manager to issue an order that she’ll follow.

    9. Aurion*

      I’ll also mention: if a dog threatens me (growling and such), I’d try to get away. If a dog attacks me, I might try to get away…or strike back, depending on the circumstance. I’m small for a human, but I’m still much bigger than many smaller dogs.

      An aggressive dog is a safety hazard for people and for the dog itself. This situation will not end well if your colleague persists.

    10. AKchic*

      You are not “complaining”. You are making a viable and worthwhile alert to management that there is a potential Quality and Safety issue within the workplace that should be addressed. That it was addressed previously when there was an HR representative stationed within the office, and now that the HR representative is no longer there to monitor the situation daily, the issue has blossomed again, and this issue has the potential to cause damage to not only employees (and their canine companions), but clients, vendors, and other guests within the building, which could be an insurance liability, a PR nightmare, and a possible OSHA issue.

      You are not complaining, you are not tattling. You are bringing up a very plausible, very real liability issue that could be costly to the company. One that had been addressed previously and HR thought had been settled. The fact that she is bringing her dog in once she’s not being monitored every day is enough to warrant a write-up. You aren’t getting her in trouble. She is getting herself in trouble. You are only trying to keep the other dogs, the employees and the company safe.

    11. Midlife Job Crisis*

      You’re not complaining. This woman has brought her dog back because the HR person left.

    12. Perse's Mom*

      There was recently a big kerfuffle in South Korea because a celebrity’s dog bit another tenant in their building. The tenant died a few days later due to sepsis from the bite. The kerfuffle was because this dog had a history of aggression and biting and the owners still allowed him to wander around off-leash.

      This isn’t to say that this uncontrolled little dog in your office is going to literally be the death of someone, but it IS actually a serious issue and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you raising this concern with your company. You’re looking out for everybody else in the office (AND your company’s best interests!) in bringing this to their attention.

    13. Close Bracket*

      Hi OP,

      I feel you on social anxiety interfering with being able bring something up to your manager. How are you at text communication? Do you think you would be ok if you typed something up and give it to your manager to read? Think of a short script to say as you hand it to them and practice it beforehand. Something like, “Manager, I have a concern that I would like to bring to you. I wanted to make sure I covered everything, so I wrote it for you to read.”

      Best of luck!

    14. Lady Phoenix*

      Yeah, I can understand being scared after one complaint bit you on the ass. Sometimes you need to think about wjether this is a conplaint worth talking about, or if it is something you can handle yourself.

      I guess the best way is to think it like this:
      1. Is [problem] causing a disruption in your work?
      2. Is [problem] a danger or a hazard?
      3. Will [problem] be a threat or liability to the company?

      In the case of coworker’s dog, the answer is yes and yes and yes.

      I am sure Allison can give you the exact circumstance, but I feel like those 3 guidelines will definitely help you when you need to make a complaint or bring a potential issue up.

  27. MCM*

    OP — the fact that your coworker asked you, is insulting. This is what I came across on Google –
    “Certification is not required as a condition of using an animal as a service animal. However, the person using the animal must meet the legal (not medical) definition of “disability” and their dog must be individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the owner’s disability.”

    Her dog would be required to go through training to be certified. I worked at a University and it’s a major issue. I would go to HR and state your concern and possibly mention your concern to your direct supervisor. If the work space is rented or leased, the dog policy could be against their lease agreement.

    There is also legal ramifications if the dog bites someone on the premises. The employer is aware that she was told not to bring the dog to work, then takes it upon herself to do so when the HR person enforcing the policy is no longer there. They choose to ignore the situation, it bites an employee, guest or client, they are accepting legal responsibility for the dog’s actions. I’m curious enough to do a bit of research to see if anyone has filed suit.

    I would be so tempted to scream bloody murder when the dog snapped at me, “he bit me, he bit me, hold your hand and jump around.” Also wonder if the dog has had it’s shots.

  28. Run By Fruiting*

    I think the “if your coworker is known to be petty and vindictive” ship has sailed with the fact that now that the person who told her she can’t do this is gone, she’s doing it again.

  29. Anon for this as well*

    OP, you have my sympathies on this one. I’m a dog lover, but I worked in an office with an aggressive dog and it was handled very badly. The dog would bark constantly, get very aggressive in the office, and did end up biting pretty much everyone at least once. It was a smaller dog, which seemed to mean that the biting got overlooked as “not very serious” even though it broke the skin. I was bitten three times and the dog broke the skin twice. Our boss tried to bring a dog trainer in for the dog’s owner, but the employee just wasn’t really that invested in training or controlling her dog. In the end, the dog ended up lunging at a client and our boss kicked the dog so hard that it passed out and had to be rushed to the vet. The dog lived, but office morale was completely shot after that. The employee then started to bring her dog in, but leave it in her car all day… Yeah, it was a very tough situation. Perhaps letting your coworkers know that the situation could be really unsafe for the dog as well?

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      after the first bite and no action, I would be informing my manager and the pet owner about my call the Animal Control AND my lawyer.

      And when the pet was left in the car, I would inform the owner of my second call to Animal Control.

      1. Anon for this as well*

        Yep, I did call about the dog being left in the car, but not when it bit me (though I did report those incidents to my boss and document them). Any call to animal control was met with reprisals from the dog’s owner. It was a very small office, so it was not hard for my coworker to figure out who the caller was. It was my first “real” job, she was senior to me and very difficult to work with at the best of times… so yeah, crap situation all around. I don’t have a lot of luck with finding functional places of work and this was actually one of the most minor issues with this office.

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      Holy wow – she leaves her dog in the car all day? And it bit several people and drew blood? She’s still allowed to bring it to work? I hope someone called Animal Control on her. Though to be fair, sometimes AC is useless.

      I can’t believe your coworker was still allowed to bring her dog to work after it *lunged at a client* and the boss kicked it so bad it had to be rushed to the vet. Does Coworker have compromising pictures of the boss or something? And what about clients who don’t want to be bitten? *smh*

  30. Dog Lover......but*

    I’m a dog lover, really. I’m a small dog lover, really really. Had chihuahuas all the time growing up, so I know how the little guys can be both loveable and extremely aggressive at the same time. Had one that went after my father once when he was trying to punish me, and bit me in the face by mistake. But………..the first time the small dog snapped at me the owner might get lucky and get a warning, but the 2nd time Cinnamon will get kicked in the teeth.

  31. Bean Pole*

    This is a bad situation that is bound to get worse if someone in a position of authority doesn’t act. Someone will get hurt.
    And, I have a small, short-haired, friendly dog … he sees a stranger and his tail wags, he sees a dog and his tail wags, he sees ANYTHING and his tail wags … and yet I can’t bring him to work because of people like this OP’s colleague ruining it for the rest of us.

  32. Sarah*

    I work in a building that allows dogs, but my company does not. There was a particularly aggressive, small dog in a different company, so I called the building manager to complain and it was unwelcomed from the building.

    1. TootsNYC*

      One thing this link points out is that liability goes WAY up if you “knew or should have known” the dog was aggressive. The company is on record as knowing, as is Jane.

      So the company needs to act firmly to ban this particular dog, or their own liability is going to be through the roof. That’s a point to make to a local manager.

  33. Dawn*

    My dog is the bestest dog in the whole world, he’s my buddy, my protector and the cutest boy you’ve ever seen… but his big a** stays at home. Dogs do not like breaks in their routine, they like having structure and predicability. Rarely my husband takes him to the squadron late on Fridays to say hi to the airman that don’t have dogs, but it is always cleared by command, he always has his chewy in his mouth, and he is kept on leash. Putting your dog in a dangerous situation by having them around people who aren’t comfortable with them, will usually spell disaster for the dog. One bite is enough to have them put down. People that do this are awful.

  34. 2 Cents*

    We have a dog-friendly office, and it’s pretty clear (written in our employee handbook) that dogs must be well-behaved. The constant barking alone would get Jane’s dog banned.

  35. Radio Girl*

    I’m terrified of big dogs. I can’t tell you how many times coworkers brought dogs to work and made me uncomfortable. HR didn’t care. The things that happen in the media go beyond sexual harassment.

  36. blue phone*

    Man, this is going to be an amazing lawsuit when that dog finally bites the wrong person (or the wrong person’s dog).

  37. RaccoonLady*

    One of my pet peeves, especially as someone who works with animals and adores small dogs, is that some people don’t seem to think that they need to train their small dogs, because they are small. It’s much more likely to see bad behavior in say, a chihuahua than a great dane and while some of that is breed personality, a lot of it is the fact that any decent Great Dane owner is gonna get some amount of obedience training and train from a puppy not to bite or even nip at people! But this doesn’t happen as much with small dogs and then you end up with situations like this, where a cute small dog is the most aggressive one in the office. Seriously, her untrained tiny dog does not belong there and the world would be a better place if more people took their tiny dogs to obedience classes or self-trained them or told them it was bad to bite people. Sorry if this is an off-topic rant but if you look at what dogs are usually actually causing problems- untrained small dogs.

  38. WildLandLover*

    I’m a specialist in accessibility laws and there is no protection for a service animal that’s aggressive. The federal laws also don’t cover registration of service animals and it’s illegal for municipalities and states to require registration. People who abuse the accessibility laws and regulations just so they can have their pet with them make life that much harder for those with legitimate need for a service dog. So, yes, the OP should speak up.

    Another potential issue. A service dog is an animal who has been trained to provide specifics to accommodate a disability under the Department of Justice revised regulations. In some rare instances, an alternate accommodation can be a miniature horse. Emotional comfort animals are NOT recognized under the Justice regulations, but ARE recognized under the Housing and Urban Development regulations, which creates all kinds of confusion for people.

    OP and/or commentors, if you wish to learn more, please visit

  39. Chandler Bing*

    Wow, I’ve never heard of an office that is dog-friendly to the extent that anyone can bring one in. My old work had one office dog but he was the boss’ dog and he was a complete pest (you couldn’t leave ANY food out and he spent the entire day raiding bins).

    Surely the barking must be a real distraction with so many dogs in one place? I appreciate the kind intentions in allowing people to bring their pets but it’s hard to see that they’re much better off than being cooped up at home. Plus, what if you had a badly behaved dog like this one? You might have to give them up, just because you’d relied on an unusual office policy.

  40. Lindsay J*

    Honestly, I would go to HR and Legal if your company has it and point out that this is an issue that is going to cost the company a lot of time and money down the line.

    If it bites someone, they will likely make a claim to try and get hospital costs etc paid. I’m not sure if business liability insurance covers random dogs in the office to begin with, but if it does then the costs are likely to go up. I mean, most homeowners policies will not cover known aggressive dogs or dogs from certain breeds. I can’t imagine it would be any different for a business that is not directly related to animal care. Also if it’s an employee that it bites you’re looking at a possible worker’s comp claim.

    And there’s the fact that this is an animal that is known to be aggressive. It was banned from the office, now it’s back, and nobody from leadership is doing a damn thing about it. If I were bitten by it, I would consider pressing charges, and I’m pretty sure that knowing that this dog has the potential to be aggressive and has a history of biting people and still allowing it to come to work would mean that the company holds some sort of liability here – the same as if they knew that their stairwell was damaged and a tripping hazard, they didn’t fix it, and someone fell and broke their arm.

  41. Been there*

    I’ve worked in a couple of dog friendly offices. The first one we had a well intentioned but clueless coworker who fostered rescue dogs. Often these dogs were in ill health and traumatized from whatever situation they had been removed from. Yeah, she brought these dogs into the office with her. That was fun. The poor things were terrified and sick. Shockingly (full sarcasm) they weren’t in the best moods and weren’t very friendly. I don’t think there were any bites, but there were some growls and teeth baring. She finally was told that she couldn’t do that anymore. I believe she resigned shortly after that.

    My office now has a person who brings her dog in, it’s very well behaved, sleeps in her office most of the day, except to wander around and check out what everyone has for breakfast and lunch. Her dog is never here when visitors are here and is kept a close eye on. Another coworker brings is old beagle in, it sleeps all day and you don’t know it’s here until you see them walking out together.

    I have a dog and she’s not compatible for the office. She’s not keen on people she doesn’t know (but not aggressive) and she’s very high energy. She’s just fine at doggy daycare or the neighbor’s house. Almost everyone brings in their dog at least once to show them off or meet everyone, but those are like baby visits, walk around, show them off, and someone brings them home fairly quickly before they become a bother.

    1. OverboilingTeapot*

      I’d enjoy dog-visits so much more than baby-visits! All dogs are unique. With babies, I always have to resist the urge to say “yep, that sure is a baby.”

  42. Delta Delta*

    I like dogs. I don’t like going in to “dog friendly workplaces” because they often smell like dog (especially on damp days) and there’s often dog hair EVERYWHERE. And you know, I don’t know other people’s dogs. Usually they’re nice, but I don’t especially want to take the chance that I’m going to get bitten just because I showed up for a meeting somewhere. I once worked somewhere that banned dogs (well, except for the office bully’s dog, but that’s a different story all together), and the reason for the ban was because of concerns that a dog might bite someone who came to the business and the company might get sued.

  43. AL*

    I would talk to HR and recommend that they institute training standards for office dogs. It could be as simple as requiring all dogs in the office pass the Canine Good Citizen to be allowed in the office. What they would do is not single out this one employee and also make it so all of the dogs are vetted by an outside source. They could also grandfather in whatever dogs already come to the office. The CGC is a pretty good training standard and is pretty cheap to be tested for.

    I also feel terrible for the dog in this instance. While the dog may be responding with aggression, we don’t know why. The dog is really just being reactive, it could be fear based. The dog is probably overwhelmed by the situation and would prefer to not be in the office. The owner is not just putting other people at risk but harming her own dog by putting it in a situation it doesn’t want to be in. Poor pupper. To be honest, I would have a hard time not having a conversation with her about how her dog may be overwhelmed and could benefit from training to be better socialized by learning to not be reactive.

  44. Grace*

    Asking how to register the dog as a service pet, when she assumably isn’t disabled, just to bring it into the office is absolutely disgusting.

  45. Newlywed*

    I love dogs (I have two) but there’s no way I would bring them into the office with me, because they are what petsmart terms “Individual Dogs”…meaning, they get along really well with each other and with us, but not necessarily with other dogs they don’t know or people they haven’t met in our home, so they aren’t allowed to play unsupervised with other dogs or people. And we are careful about how to introduce them to people and to new dogs, and it’s a fact that not all dogs are going to get along and you cannot, and should not, try to force that.

  46. Sigh*

    We have an elderly pug who we absolutely adore. Sometimes he cuddles in my arms like a teddy bear. Once he saw a rabbit and was scared of it. He also was abused and neglected before we got him and once bit my finger till it bled and punctured a bike tire when scared.

    Needless to say, despite the fact that 99.9% of the time he’s a little mop of fluffy fat, he gets locked away when kids are over, warned about heavily when adults are over, and when people approach him on walks we clearly warn and get down on the ground with him and mediate the interaction. Because we love him so much…and also recognize he could hurt someone. After he bit me we agreed that was his one chance, another time and he’d be crossing the rainbow bridge. Because the next time it could be a child’s face.

  47. Majken*

    Wouldn’t an aggressive dog be an OSHA (occupational health and safety) issue? It’s a hazardous condition just like a slippery floor or a broken handrail.

    Otherwise, why not just treat any dog/office issue exactly the way you would treat a coworker issue. Just switch in the name of the dog for the name of the coworker in any of the scripts on this site:

    ME to Coworker: I notice that every time I walk down the hall Harvey chases after me and nips at my heels. That has to stop. Can you take care of that?

    ME to Manager: Harvey keeps hanging around my desk. I tell him to go away but he just puts his head in my lap and sighs. Is there any way we can stop that from happening?

  48. Narise*

    I just wanted to add that when you are leaving a position- HR or another management role- you need to share with others situation like the dog being banned from a dog friendly office. If the HR person who left had made sure that the manager and/or their replacement was aware the situation would have been resolved from day one. Any on going investigations or repeated behavior that needs to be monitored should be shared with the goal of it being continued. Maybe the HR person did this and no one followed up to make sure Toto was staying home.

  49. Not really a waitress*

    My first thought was this has to be a dachshund. It sounds like my dog. But I am self aware enough to not take him some place where his behavior disturbed other people or pets. I won’t even take him to pet smart anymore

  50. Gem*

    I raise service dogs, specifically Guide Dogs. My current girl is ten months, she will probably graduate and start ‘work’ at around two years old. At this point she pretty much comes everywhere with me. She knows barking is unacceptable. She knows to be either at my side or where I’ve asked her to stay. She knows not to greet anyone while vested unless I give permission.

    She’s still not yet ready for the job.

  51. Jojo*

    I would call HR at the branch of the office. Tell them the dog was previously banned and that now with no local HR it is back and being aggressive again. They are still your HR even if they are not on site.

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