A new measure in Arkansas would make misrepresenting a pet as a service animal a crime. The bill has passed the legislature and now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 654 was sponsored by State Sen. Jonathon Dismang (R-Beebe). The bill authorizes a civil penalty for misrepresenting an animal as a service animal or a service-animal-in-training to a person or entity that operates a public accommodation. Each penalty could cost up to $250.
Service animals are protected under the ADA. Generally, the term refers to a dog that has been individually trained to assist an individual with a disability including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
Service animals commonly assist the blind, deaf, and pull wheelchairs.
As the Housing Act allows those with disabilities to have their service animals with them without discrimination and the Air Carrier Access Act allows special provisions for animal travel, there has been abuse from those would pass their pet as a service animal.
Read the full bill here.