Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us have probably seen a dog or other pet in a grocery store or a restaurant and wondered to ourselves, “Is that really a service animal?”
A bill in the Washington State Legislature could make it a $250 fine for people who falsely claim their pet is a service animal.
House Bill 2822 is being considered as a way to crack down on people who try to take advantage of service animal rules so that they can have the same privileges as disabled people who need assistance from legitimate service animals. The bill also clarifies that businesses may not discriminate against people who require legitimate service animals or charge them more.
The bill, which was first read on Jan. 17, was scheduled to have a public hearing Wednesday morning and head to an executive session in the House Committee on Judiciary Thursday afternoon.
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The bill, which would go into effect Jan. 1, 2019, comes at a time when many companies nationwide are taking a look at what constitutes a service animal and any provisions they need to make for them.
On Tuesday, social media was abuzz after images and video were posted after United Airlines denied a woman’s request to board a flight with her emotional support peacock Monday at Newark, N.J., International Airport.
Washington is not the first state to consider a bill like this. As of October 2017, 19 states have enacted similar measures.
So how do you know if your pet is a service animal? Well, if you have to ask that question, it’s probably not one.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act National Network site, “A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.”
The website goes on to state, “The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship are not considered work or tasks under the definition of a service animal.”