People are pretending their pets are service animals

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif (KOLO) -- South Lake Tahoe police say people are lying about their pet's purpose just to take them to the park.

People are claiming their pets are service animals, even when they are not. That is against the law and people can face 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, people are still doing it and the problem is so bad, the city is considering a change in policy.

"We are looking to get a finger on the pulse," said Chief Brian Uhler of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

For years, South Lake Tahoe leaders have banned dogs from public parks and an event called, “Live at Lakeview.” Now, it seems like people have figured out a loophole and are lying about having a service dog.

"We have been seeing an increase. I think it's because a lot of people are getting the idea that they can work around the laws," said Police Chief Uhler.

Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there isn't much officers can do.

"The predicament we find ourselves in is, in order to really investigate that sort of issue, we have to ask a lot of questions. Under the protections of the ADA, we can't really ask a lot of questions,” said Police Chief Uhler.

Officers can only ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what services the animal provides.

"It's an unnecessary law," said South Lake Tahoe resident Laura Thibedeau.

With people lying about their dogs, some living in the city think the law needs to be changed.

"Everyone who has had a dog, they all really got calm, collected, passionate dogs,” said Thibedeau.

The city is weighing its options and is now asking the public for input. They have released a survey asking if the city should keep the law forbidding dogs in the parks with ADA exception or allow dogs on leashes.

It seems at Lakeview, people prefer the latter.

"As long as you're not bringing an aggressive dog to a public area, I don't see any harm in it," said Austin Grimm, South Lake Tahoe resident.

"As long as people are picking up their feces and managing and taking care of their canine,” said Jerry Barbee, South Lake Tahoe resident.

You can take the survey by clicking here.