Several states across the United States ban misrepresenting pets as service animals

By Ashley Boucher
August 15, 2019 08:41 PM
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Pet owners in Alabama are getting a new law to heed.

Beginning in September, anyone who attempts to pass off their pet as a service animal in the state could be facing misdemeanor charges.

“Making false claims will be a Class C misdemeanor resulting in a $100 fine and 100 hours of community service to be performed with an organization that serves people with disabilities or one approved by the court,” AL.com reported on Wednesday.

The new law will take effect on the first of next month and poses strict regulations to what types of animals count as service animals. Emotional support animals, for example, will not be classified as a service animal.

The law is very explicit when delineating what constitutes a service animal, sating that “a service animal may not be a pet,” but must be trained to “do work or perform tasks that benefit a person with a disability.”

The only animals that qualify as service animals are a dog (though the dog’s breed is not restricted) or a miniature horse, the outlet said. Service animals may be “a guide dog for someone with visual impairments or an animal trained to provide help to someone with post traumatic stress disorder.”

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According to the law, signs posted in public will read: “Service animals are welcome. It is illegal for a person to misrepresent an animal in that person’s possession as a service animal.”

Alabama will be joining 24 other states in the US that make misrepresenting a pet as a service animal a crime, with all violations classified as “misdemeanor offenses or civil infractions,” according to Michigan State University’s Animal Legal and Historical Center.

In California, violators can face up to six months of jail time and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

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