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In 'lawless' world of service dogs, many families suffer

APEX, N.C. — The service dog industry, especially dogs for people with autism or PTSD, has exploded in recent years. But a near complete absence of regulation has left needy, desperate families vulnerable to incompetence and fraud, according to The Associated Press.

The North Carolina attorney general’s office has received more than four dozen complaints against a company that trained service dogs for autistic children. Clients who paid many thousands of dollars say their dogs couldn’t respond to basic commands or were aggressive toward people or other family pets. State officials in Virginia, Colorado and Illinois have brought similar cases in recent years.

Properly training a service dog can take up to 1 1/2 years. But the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require that a service dog be professionally trained or certified.

Allen G. Breed, The Associated Press