Officials say people are regularly bringing their pets into the courthouse as "service animals"
It's an issue that has been popping up lately at the county courthouse.
People have been bringing in a pet or comfort animal and trying to pass it off as a service animal.
Officials say an incident that occurred on Thursday helped to shed light on why only the most highly trained service animals aiding people disabilities are allowed into public buildings like the courthouse.
Security guards at the county courthouse had to ask a man to leave the building after he tried to bring in his 7 month old puppy, telling guards it was a service animal.
The animal was quickly identified as a comfort animal, and the man was asked to leave the building.
"The patron said that it was a comfort animal which is not allowed in the building. Comfort animals are not service animals," said Captain Jerry Witte with the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office.
Captain Witte says these incidents are occurring regularly, and he wants to address it.
The only animals allowed inside a public building like the county courthouse are fully trained service animals who help people with disabilities.
The owner of a service dog may have mobility limitations such as hearing loss or deafness, visual impairment or autism.
Witte says people have been trying to pass off emotional support animals or even pets as something more.
"What we're running into is a lot of people are downloading information on the internet, and passing off comfort animals as service animals. And they clearly are not at times," said Witte.
A negative side affect from these occurrences is that security guards are now having to ask people with legitament disabilities questions about their service animals.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the fakers have put us into a really uncomfortable position. Some of the issues we've run into is we've had dogs jump on people, bark at people, growl at people, make a mess in the hallways, disrupt court... And clearly we just can't have that here," said Witte.
There is no criminal penalty for bringing in a comfort animal, but you will be asked to leave the building.
"Service animals, by definition, are helping people who have a diagnosed disability. Now, I don't want to ask you what your disability is and frankly, it's none of my business, but we will have to ask questions as to whether or not this is a service animal or comfort animal," said Witte.
Witte says he's all for comfort animals, and they can do great things for people.
But he wants to educate the public on their policy.