Review for questionable service dog

Hi everyone, I had a family of 4 stay for a week. The wife made the booking. My rental is a separate 2 bedroom apartment. As they were carrying the 2nd load of stuff in, the husband announced that they had a service dog which was very well trained. I was surprised, and couldn’t think what questions I was allowed to ask in the moment.

The next day my guest was walking past my apartment with the dog as I came down my steps and the dog (a german shepherd) lunged at me, growling, but she restrained her and pulled her away. They were at some distance and the dog was on a leash, so it was startling but not scary. These are garden apartments; each opens onto a central courtyard.

A couple of days later I was working in the garden, and my guest and her daughter got out of their car, near me. They dog jumped out and ran past them, and rushed at me growling. I froze, and the dog kept snarling and growling, cornering me. I’m used to dogs, and this wasn’t just barking, the dog meant business. I said ‘call off your dog’. She tried, but the dog did not respond until she grabbed her collar and pulled her away.

At this point I remembered the rules, and said ‘what service is the dog trained to provide?’ She said that she detects seizures in her daughter, and helps her husband with PTSD. She mentioned that the dog was still in training.

Shortly after, she sent the following messages:

"Dolly is a licensed and registered PTSD service animal who assists with anxiety/panic attacks and can also detect when someone is going to have a seizure.

"I forgot to mention she’s completely house broken. We designate a spot for her for her bed everywhere we go because we have a strict no dog on furniture policy even in our own home.

“There’s no option via airbnb to say we have her. Only a pet option which doesn’t apply to her.”

The next time they went out, the dog was wearing a muzzle.

Anyway, I was worried for the rest of the week but I was cordial and sent a ‘hope you had a nice stay’ message when they were leaving, because I was worried that they would do something vindictive. However, they left the apartment in good shape and reasonably clean except for all the dog hair, and grease on the ‘clean’ dishes in the dish drain. It appeared true that the dog had stayed off the furniture. I was greatly relieved. I don’t allow pets, so some extra cleaning for me, but nothing terrible.

Now I have 2 days left to leave a review. They have already left one, so I don’t have to worry about that. I want to be simple and factual. I don’t plan to challenge the service dog claim, I just want to describe the behavior.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Kala stayed at the apartment with her husband and two children. They are a nice family, and left the apartment in good condition. They brought a service dog, a German shepherd named Dolly. Dolly exhibited some aggressive behavior, and after 2 incidents they muzzled her when they went out, and there was no more trouble.

What do you think?

9 Likes

This sounds more than fair. I’m not sure I’d be as gracious as you were.

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I would also not be quite so gracious. I would elaborate a bit about the aggressive behavior, saying the dog jumped out of the car, ran past the guests and cornered you, snarling and growling and you had to ask them to call the dog off.

I don’t think a service dog “in training” actually can be called a service dog, but I may be wrong.

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I agree that its not “licensed and registered” and still in training. They must have meant you’d have PTSD because of the dog. It sounds like a police dog in training, not a therapy dog. I’d bet anything they are lying and I have little patience for that.

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It seems to me that someone who is supposedly training a service dog doesn’t let it jump out of the car and run past them towards someone else.

My dog isn’t a service dog, nor at all aggressive towards people aside from barking at strangers, but she doesn’t get to leap out of the car on her own unless we’re home or somewhere I know is safe to let her do that. Otherwise the leash gets put on before she jumps out.

Imagine if the dog had done that to a small child. It’s the kind of experience that can make people fearful of dogs all their lives.

7 Likes

Just google “Aggressive service dog”. It’s likely the family is lying about it being a service dog, but not something you can easily prove or should say on the review.

I would definitely mention that it was aggressive to you multiple times and that the guest was unable to immediately control it. Leave the part about the muzzle in. The fact that they had a muzzle with them says they know about dog’s aggressive behavior.

Imagine if it had bit you or a neighbor or another guest. Unfortunately, it will take an expensive lawsuit for Airbnb to change their service animal policy.

14 Likes

IMO, your draft review is very kind. We would:

“Would Not Host Again. Broke house rules and left extra mess for us, especially in the kitchen”. 2 stars for cleanliness. 2 overall, 2 communication, and whatever for the rest.

I would not mention the dog at all, public or private. There is too much potential risk of some bonehead Air CS agent getting brought in - and can object via “discrimination” if the dog is mentioned in any way - this could possibly result in suspension or worse.

They KNEW that their dog has behavior issues (they own a muzzle). Control of an animal is required regardless of SA or any other. At a min, they should have had it on a leash. A “barking dog” on a leash is one thing. An uncontrolled dog with teeth is another. This could have gone very differently and you or someone else might have gotten bit!

They earned a nice passive-aggressive review. Give it to them. If she messages you afterward (perhaps will) do not engage with her. Don’t give any ammo.

3 Likes

I think your review is perfect! It’s factual and you left out the emotional part which I think is a good thing.

1 Like

I would not have been so nice, either. They KNOW that that is not “a Service Dog In Training” – It would be wearing a vest. And… Service dogs, IIRC, are trained for one skill, not two or three – ie detect seizures or PTSD not both; and a Service Dog does not service two masters – father and daughter. I’ve been around a fair number of Service Dogs and never seen even the newest recruit be aggressive like that – they aren’t selected for training if they are.

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This is not accurate. Service dogs can be and are trained for more than one task.

There is a lot of misinformation everywhere about service animals. Here’s the account of a service dog that I follow on twitter. She is working hard to educate people. If you’d like to learn more here’s the account:

https://twitter.com/servicepupbasil

Here’s the beginning of a thread about the many tasks a multipurpose service dog can do:

2 Likes

Good advice to not mention the dog, I think. As they witnessed the near attack, they should know quite well why they got a low review.

As an owner of a large and sometimes unpredictable furbaby, I can relate to always having my Loki in control. He’s not to the point of muzzle ownership yet, but it is certainly better to start using one before an event like that. Having a large animal comes with a ton of responsibility, and it sounds like these people maybe did not follow through on the basic obedience part of their dogs training. Too often people send their dogs away for training and never quite learn how to manage their dog themselves.

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Thank you everyone for your replies! I agree that this is a completely fake ‘service’ dog! I got the feeling that they see her as their guard dog, and don’t want her to stop being aggressive. That’s just an impression, though.

7 Likes

That is not a service dog. Service dogs “in training” are immediately bumped OUT of the program at the very first hint of aggressive behavior.

I would have taken a photo of the dog wearing a muzzle and messaged them on-platform immediately after the first attack and state the facts as you have here.

I’d give them 1* on house rules 3* across the board. NO service dog attacks. EVER. Call them on it in your review and send a message with a Host Does Not Recommend Guests.

That dog would try and eat my cat, no questions asked. I grew up with dogs and cats in the same house and a friend’s Labrador is stud for seeing eye dogs. His grand-dogs are featured on the Today show every year as service animals in training.

They abused your rules and that dog is a danger. I’d be f-ing furious.

14 Likes

Your review is good but I think it’s okay if you give a little more detail. And I think you have to mention the dog. That is what hosts really need to know about, their agressive animal.

It’s fine to mention the dog and it is exactly what needs to be mentioned. As another host, I don’t care that they left greasy dishes, I care that they have an agressive animal. Our places our very dog-friendly, but that is precisely why I need to know about their agressive dog because there are several dogs on the property at one time. It is irrelevant that they say it’s a “service dog in training” because it is clearly not a service dog in training.

If you are worried about the discrimination angle, because we all know how ridiculous Airbnb can be, then don’t mention that it’s a “service dog” in the review. Just say, “they brought their dog, a german shepherd named Dolly…”.

But, even bettter, get in front of it!

I would chat/call in and report them to Airbnb asap. The Airbnb community does not need to be dealing with an agressive animal. Present it that way to the CS agent. I’d start with all of the agressive behavior, describe it and detail why it was worrisome not just for you, but your neighbors and their children. After you tell him all about the aggression issues with the dog, then you can tell CS that they later claimed that he was a service dog. You can even say that you hope it doesn’t sound discriminatory but that the dog is just so aggressive you felt obligated to report it. You can probably get them banned if you work it right :grin:

15 Likes

I liked your review. As a hosts I would appreciate knowing this family has a ‘service’ dog. I too question if this truely is a service dog. Doesn’t the training for service dogs happen in a specialist training facility??

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Thanks, I did send in my original text, except I think I added ‘very’ in front of aggressive. As you said, it’s important for other hosts to know that they have an aggressive dog that they’re trying to pass off as a service animal.
Good idea to call airbnb about it, I’ll do that.

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Absolutely! There’s no question this was not a service dog. But I didn’t want to contradict them in my review; I think mentioning the aggression and the muzzle will make it pretty clear.

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No, owners are allowed to “self train” their SAs, as silly as it sounds. There is no formal certification process, no objective expert who has to be involved or give a “sign off”.

Yeah I totally get the “desire to mention the dog” in some way. We can’t ignore the fact that there is likely documented communication with the magic words “service animal”. Even IF that is not currently in the message stream, one call from the Guest to Air would almost certainly result in a negative review being pulled once they say “it’s an SA”.

Air will not challenge that. There is no evidence that the animal was not in their control at all times unless the Guest were to admit it and they won’t be that foolish. They clearly know how to play the game.

The truth is one thing. I would hate for the OP to put anything in the review with risk that an undertrained bonehead in some call center will act against the host.

Yes, it is UNFAIR but the bottom line is the host can play the game too. The end result is the Host gets to stick the Guest with a nasty negative honest review and warn future hosts.

My thinking is, I didn’t challenge their assertion that it was a service animal, I just noted its behavior. So hopefully that will keep me out of trouble but still let other hosts know the situation.

Frankly, I don’t think they know how to play the game particularly well. Piling on 2 things, the seizures and the PTSD, made it seem like she was just throwing the kitchen sink in. Lies are more believable if you keep it simple. Plus, airbnb allows emotional support animals. They don’t need to be trained, so there would be no way to contradict her claim if she had just said the dog was an ESA.

2 Likes