The following is in response to the feedback we received since our February 1, 2019 product launch:

You all have greatly contributed to an important on-going conversation around the working and service dog community – one that we too have been navigating for the 20+ years we’ve been working with and learning from working dogs.

Our communications around our Feb. 1 product launch have created frustration, confusion, and hurt for many people – we are deeply sorry. We want the entire working and service dog community to know that we value each and every dog and handler.

We’d like to add a little clarity to the confusion.

Nothing has changed for working and service dog handlers currently enrolled in our Pro Purchase Program and receiving a service dog discount. All the same products as before are still available. For those interested in our Pro Purchase Program, you can contact us at bark@ruffwear.com.

On Feb. 1, we shared a story about a few new products that we designed specifically to meet the needs of the working and service dog community. Several of these custom-made products are not available to individuals and have limited distribution.

We recognize there is a large number of owner-trained service dogs that perform specific tasks and improve quality of life – we hear you and know that you’ve put extensive time and resources into your service dog. We in no way intend to diminish your legitimacy by limiting the distribution of our new working and service dogs products.

We’ve learned from our work with service dog handlers that the fake service dog issue is a real problem. There is no perfect solution, and just like the wider working and service dog community, we are learning as we go. By limiting our customized working and service dog products to be distributed directly to ADI and IGDF schools and organizations, we aim to minimize harm or hindrance to the working and service dog community. Making these products available to individuals could create opportunity for these products to be exploited, risking the reputation and access of all working and service dogs.

While these products have limited availability, we believe sharing this story with a wider audience elevates the visibility of working and service dogs in our community.

As a company dedicated to making great products for dogs and their humans, we want to embrace our responsibility to the working and service dog community. Sometimes stated as “doing well by doing good,” to us this means conducting our business in a way that maximizes the good we can do in the world while being mindful of the impact we have on the greater community and to do right by it.

We are committed to a continuing process of reviewing and improving our products and practices to increase the positive impacts while reducing unnecessary harm.

If you have more questions or feel like you still have not been heard, please contact us at bark@ruffwear.com.

With gratitude,

Patrick Kruse
Founder and Director of R&D


26 thoughts

  1. I was just about to buy a set of Ruff Wear boots for my Owner Trained (OT) service dog and I stumbled across this post. I am beyond disappointed in your discrimination against a large majority of OT service dogs. I will not be purchasing any of your products in the future and I will not recommend your company to anyone I know. I am taking my business to Muttluks to purchase my dog boots. Shame on you!

    1. Unfortunately there are a lot of people falsely claiming that their dogs are service dogs. It is too bad that people cheat this way, but the anger should be at those people, and not at a business that is trying to protect itself and still give a break to people who are truly in need. I don’t blame people for getting mad, but aim that anger at the offenders, not another victim who wants to stay in business.

  2. Some food for thought for your company. Many of us fight for years to simply obtain our disability. Even working full time $6,000+ for a full trained service dog, not to memtion the wait alone to get into a program for a dog, is beyond alot of people’s means. To have a company basically say you’re not good enough because they are more worried about profit and or a possible lawsuit. The fact that you’re using a real issue that service dogs/owners face as a convient excuse sickens me. You are just as bad as Petsmart banning “dangerous breed dogs” (even if they are service dogs) or any other company that discrminates against anybody. I will not only NOT EVER BUY from you, I will tell everyone I know or meet not to support you. I will not support anybody even remotely associated with you. You as a company are no part of the problem vs the solution.

    1. I’m sorry as a handler I have to utterly disagree with you. It’s clear you are upset that they have decided to limit distribution but the reality is you are improperly placing an erroneous claim on the company and brand. Its almost comical given the amount of uproar the community has over fakes and online registration sites, then you get upset because this brand makes the choice to limit the distribution of a product that has never been publically accessible for their SD gear. Grow up.

  3. Both my dogs currently use Ruffwear harnesses, but I’m extremely uncomfortable continuing to support a company that so openly discriminates against disabled people. I will not be purchasing from this company again until these discriminatory practices are ended.

  4. It’s really very simple. Not only have you lost my business, but, I will regularly tell all of my clients, because I’m a professional dog trainer, not to use your products.

    Yet another company, disregarding their customers needs. That won’t bode well for you long-term.

  5. I do want to start by saying that your Pro Purchase Discount has been hugely helpful to me and my service dog in training.

    At the same time, I also think that you should consider asking a series of questions prior to purchase to determine if a team if legitimate as opposed to just outright not telling to owner trainers (or people like me, who have a service dog trainer that does not belong to ADI).

    Also, I think many people would appreciate if you banned Susan Danbury from comment any further. She might think she is defending your company, but she’s actually only upsetting OTs even further.

  6. Again, I am saddened to hear that Ruffwear has chosen to not make its specialized SD gear available to SD handlers directly. I don’t have a program dog, though I could certainly get one. We certainly have choices for where we can obtain quality equipment. Ruffwear is just one of those choices.

  7. You are NOT listening. You stated “By limiting our customized working and service dog products to be distributed directly to ADI and IGDF schools and organizations, we aim to minimize harm or hindrance to the working and service dog community.” This is clear and blatant discrimination, period.

  8. Okay, but ADI regularly sends out untrained animals. How are they any more legitimate than my outside program trained dog who behaves better and actually knows tasks? How are they any more legitimate than an owner-trained dog that’s…actually trained? You could ask the two questions to all customers. You could ask for proof in seeing the dog do a task. But fully denying access to products for service dogs to only the (crappily trained) special program dogs, you’re limiting all disabled people.

    1. Based on conversations w fake service dog ppl, just asking what the two questions ARE or any of the other access rules would weed out a lot. (Ex. “Is there a required national service dog registry in the US?” “Are there circumstances under which a service animal can be asked to leave?”) They are rarely well informed and actual service dog users are typical very informed.

  9. It’s not listening if you just say you’re listening and not actually doing anything to address people’s concerns.

    You are not actually learning if you refuse to change your actions.

  10. While I understand the reasoning behind this decision I hope that you work with a team of disability lawyers to work within the ADA requirements for a business to allow access to OT dogs with a vetting process that allows you to maintain your product’s reputation of being assigned to reputable service animals while also allowing others who have gone through private training to access products that could greatly assist their daily lives.

    The owner training community has been hurt and is lashing out. They complain about fake service dogs and the problems they cause while also complaining about the ADI accredited dogs being poorly trained and causing problems out in public. Owner trainers are a huge majority of service dog handlers and they are the hardest to verify. Because of this, there is a large grey area that is hard to navigate. The best solution for this specific problem would be to implement and vetting process for the public to go through to verify service dog status. However you will receive similar back lash for not following the 2 question rule outlined by the ADA. The OT community is a very complicated thing to navigate and unfortunately your PR team was no equipped with enough information to handle this appropriately.

    I have personally had issues with several ADI accredited program dogs coming up to me and my dog, barking, lunging, and overal poor service animal behavior. The ADI / IGDF is not a guarantee that your products will be placed on dogs who will be positive ambassadors for service animals in the US. This is a risk every gear company takes and you are not exempt by limiting your products to certain programs.

    This entire situation is a huge lose-lose for your marketing team and company in general. If you limit it to prevents fakes, there will be backlash, if you create a verification process handlers will cry ADA compliance violation, and if it’s released to the public it will wind up on the wrong dogs.

    I’m sorry your company is going through this nightmare, but you were not prepared properly for the community backlash. You need to get people who understand the different aspects of the service dog community and how it can and will influence your sales.

    Good luck,
    Chris.

    1. Just to clarify…there is absolutely nothing gray about the ADA requirements, a business’s rights, how to verify a team’s legitimacy, nor a business’s rights to exclude poorly behaved animals, service or otherwise. The problem with fakes stems as much from business owners’ inability, or more correctly, unwillingness, to exercise their rights under the law, while at the same time foisting that responsibility onto us, law-abiding citizens, lawfully exercising our civil rights. No more, no less. Nothing gray there. There’s nothing gray about the problem being exacerbated by businesses not exercising their rights, which is the real problem here. Bet that after a few people with their badly behaved dogs and their worthless “certifications” get thrown out because their dogs are not up to snuff, and invited to come back without them, bet after those get publicity and these fakers (the people, not the dogs) get called out routinely and businesses start exercising their rights…bet the problem gets a lot less of a problem after that.

  11. I guess I won’t ever be buying anything from your company again since you believe it’s appropriate to discriminate against me and other owner trainers.

  12. There is a reason the law hasn’t been changed to outlaw owner training and small service dog training programs in order to address the fake service dog problem. We, the disabled, are telling you the problem and its potential solutions are more nuanced than you understand. And you are NOT LISTENING.

  13. You are discriminating against the VERY people that got your business where it is. That’s would be the owner trainers.

    I don’t care that I have a program dog. I stand behind ALL SERVICE DOG OWNERS! We will not back down. I have unlinked, unsubscribed and sending back my boots. (yes my real email is provided)
    🖑 Until you wake up!

  14. Your heading says you’re listening, but your post suggests otherwise. Disabled people face gatekeepers everywhere they go. Sell to all of us or sell to none. This is not the solution and your doubletalk here is unconvincing. I’m severely disappointed in this company and I expected better from you. I trust your intention is good but you know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell. You’ve isolated one detail of the story, drawn your own conclusions, and clamped your hands over your ears instead of hearing the rest. And issued a non-apology. Insulting.

  15. What about other legitimate qualification programs like the Alberta and bc government qualification? They’re both adi equivalent. Why can’t owner trainers qualified by that have access to this? I would love to discuss this further with you guys. Is there a way to contact the decision makers directly?

    Thanks so much!

  16. I don’t think this is “fair” at all. There has to be a legitimate way to only sell these to tie service dogs without totally ignoring small trainer or owner trained dogs.
    Do you not realize that many of us (disabled) people are and ALONE?? Completely alone. I have NO ONE to help me if I can’t get up. No one. Ever.
    I don’t have $10,000+ to buy a trained dog. I live alone and surviving on disability is basically impossible – even more so when you have to pay for everything alone.
    But, I was a professional horse and dog trainer for over 18 years before having to go on disability.
    I see NOTHING wrong with me training my own dog. If I didn’t, I worldnt even be able to have one. Then I’d be back to having absolutely no help at all. This isn’t an Emotional Support animal, she is a working dog and we should have the same rights of purchase as every other working dog pair out there.
    For you as a company to think that you have the right to dictate what dogs are “worthy” enough to wear your gear is absolutely disgusting. I would rather send you my MULTIPLE doctor notes prescribing me a service dog to prove her legitimscy than have us be shunned just because I can’t afford to go through one of your preferred training schools. Before I had so these back surgeries I WAS the trainer people sent their animals to. This is more than insulting.

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