Having A ‘Service’ Animal Could Cost You Big Thanks To New Texas Law
I try not to pass judgment, I really do. But I, like many other people, get annoyed when I see a person walk into a restaurant or grocery store with a "service" animal that appears to have no training whatsoever. And then I feel bad, because what if it truly is a service animal, and that person has a disability I can't see? Then I really am being a jerk.
Unfortunately, the upswing in untrained "service" animals has become a problem. We keep pets out of certain places for hygienic reasons, and untrained animals can interrupt the work that real service animals do. A distracted service animal could fail to sense an upcoming epileptic seizure, for instance.
So what is the solution? It's not like a business is allowed to ask if the animal is legit, as per Texas law:
As Texas law and the ADA state, staff may not ask about the nature of the person's disability or about the qualifications of the service animal, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation...
This is to protect the medical privacy, and the dignity of people with disabilities- and it is a good law. Instead, if you suspect an animal is being falsely presented as a service animal a report should be made to the ADA or a call could be made to the local police non-emergency number. I probably wouldn't do the latter unless it is a persistent issue.
Because of how persistent this problem has become, Texas recently passed HB 4164, which increases fines and makes violators perform community service.
Perhaps knowing how steep the fine is- $1000 dollars and 30 hours of community service, will be enough to deter people from trying to pass their untrained puppies off as service dogs in the first place.
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