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Proposed bill would make it a misdemeanor to fake a service animal in Alabama

A new bill proposed in the Alabama Senate would make it a misdemeanor for people to pretend to have a service animal.

Posted: Feb 8, 2019 7:17 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2019 9:58 PM

Laurel Rose runs Huntsville's Got Your Six, an organization that trains service dogs for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She said it's common for people to have a fake having a service dog and to even ask her nonprofit organization for help in doing so.

A new bill proposed in the Alabama Senate would make it a misdemeanor for people to pretend to have a service animal or pretend to be a service animal trainer. It would also add penalties for those who interfere with people who have service animals, or who deny them access because of their service animal.

In addition to possible fines, offenders would have to undergo 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves people with disabilities.

"Someone recently said, 'I need to fly overseas and they won't let my dog fly in the cabin with me. I'm leaving in March. Can you certify my dog as a service dog before I leave?'" said Rose. "I said 'No, it's fraud, and in good conscience, I can't do that.'" 

Rose started her no-cost training program for veterans after seeing her daughter, who served overseas, connect with her dog. Her program can take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years to complete, but she said with the help of online resources, people can skip the training process all together. 

Rose said the proposed bill doesn't do enough and, right now, there isn't a valid system in place to help identify who is lying about their animals.

"I appreciate the sentiment behind it. The only sticky part I see is, how do you enforce it?" said Rose.

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