More and more I’ve noticed that some people are taking their dogs everywhere, even places they shouldn’t be.

I see them in stores, gas stations, hotels and places of business. I love animals and certainly would never want to deprive anyone of the companionship of a beloved pet. But it’s gotten to the point where a lot of people are PRETENDING they need their animal with them at all times in order to get them into places they aren’t allowed.

Let me make it clear from the get-go that I’m NOT talking about people who need the help of trained and certified service animals. These are animals that have been trained to assist a particular person with very specific physical or psychological needs.

And I’m NOT talking about people who use certified therapy dogs to bring comfort to others (for example at hospitals, nursing homes and schools).

I’m also NOT talking about people who legitimately need the help of emotional support animals. These are companion animals that a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL says provide some benefit for a person disabled by a mental health condition or emotional disorder.

Who I AM talking about are the people who do not NEED, but WANT to have a pet with them at all times so they claim it’s an emotional support or service animal and will even go so far as to fabricate an illness of some sort to procure the necessary paperwork or certification to allow this.

I think this is selfish and irresponsible. And it reeks of entitlement.

I loved my dog and wished she could have gone with me everywhere. She wasn’t a very big dog so theoretically she could have gone with me almost everywhere — stores, restaurants, even work. But I know there are very good reasons that animals aren’t allowed in many of these places and, in some cases, it’s prohibited.

But in the age of political correctness, many people have found that if they claim physical or emotional dependence on an animal, they can get away with having Fido in their shopping cart at the grocery store. They can get away with it because it would be inappropriate (and in some cases illegal) to question a person over their need for an animal companion.

So people have found that today they can take their pet dog or cat or other animal into any public or private establishment simply because they want to have them around at all times. And they know that they probably won’t be questioned about it. And if they are questioned, SOME have taken the unscrupulous measure of securing paperwork saying this an emotional support animal when it isn’t.

Here’s why this is a problem; first of all, rules about animals being prohibited in certain areas and buildings exist for a reason. There are some places that it would be unsanitary or unsafe for animals to be. Secondly, many untrained pets posing as support animals can potentially be a threat to others. This is because they have not undergone the proper training an animal needs if it will interact with a variety of people and social situations. Some people have gone so far as to purchase vests that LOOK like those worn by trained service animals. They put these vests on their pets and it adds the look of legitimacy to the animal.

Thirdly, and most annoying to me, is that the untrained posers could seriously undermine the work of an actual trained service animal. Service animals (most commonly dogs) are individually trained for years to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Service animals are generally taught to be more submissive. So when your untrained pet you took to the grocery store tries to interact with a service dog, it could seriously undermine or disrupt the real job the service dog needs to do.

Another issue is that while you and I may love having animals around, there are people who have a very serious aversion or fear of them and being in close proximity to them could be distressing. What if someone is allergic? You have to realize that while you love having your dog around, others may not want to be near them. As I stated, service dogs are the exception. That’s why they’re allowed in places most other animals are not. But now lots of people have found a loophole in the rules and are taking advantage of it.

As I said before, I love animals and I wish I could bring my dog to work or to the store or the beach or the dentist. But there are reasons why pets are not allowed at these places and I get that.

Legitimate service animals, therapy animals and emotional support animals provide a very real and necessary service to people in our community. To pretend that you need the physical or psychological help of an animal just because you want to have them around is disgraceful when you consider that there are people who legitimately must have them to function in society.

We live in a society where owners and operators of businesses and public spaces could get into serious trouble if they questioned the legitimacy of an animal that comes through the doors. And some selfish people know that so they take advantage of it.

Don’t be one of those people. Your pet doesn’t have to go everywhere with you. And if you know someone doing this, call them out on it.

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune