If you’re thinking about passing off your pet as a service animal to get into public places, you might want to think again.
A new law now makes it a crime to try to pass off your pet as a service animal; people caught are subject to a $250 fine.
“We wanna send them a message that it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, and you’re subject to a fine,” said State Senator John Kavanagh (R) – District 23.
Kavanagh sponsored the bill. He says it’s too easy for people to pass off their pet as a service animal and it needs to stop.
A quick search on Amazon yields dozens of hits for service animal vests on sale for as low as $20.
Nationwide, there is no registry for service animals and for someone to have a service animal a person must show they have a disability and that the animal can perform a task. There’s also no federal law that makes it illegal to misrepresent a service animal.
Mitch Garica says the new law is a long time coming. Garcia is a disabled veteran who relies on a service animal.
“I’m tired of people buying these vests, slapping them on their pets and calling them a service dog,” Garcia said. “This is medical equipment; it’s not just a dog.”
Garcia says pets posing as phony service animals only hurt the credibility of real service animals and that you’re not only impersonating a service animal, you’re impersonating a disability.
“It gets annoying. It's getting really, really annoying,” said Garcia.
Kavanagh says the law is just like Arizona's jaywalking laws, not everyone is caught, but they’re on the books to remind people that this is wrong and if they are caught they will be punished.
“We rely on people who have been properly socialized that when they know that it’s wrong, they don’t do it,” Kavanagh said.
Garcia says he hopes this puts an end to the problem.