In a world where nothing seems to surprise us any more, there seems to be a new surprise—people fraudulently applying for service animals or purchasing service paraphernalia to identify animals who are not trained as service animals. The New Hampshire legislature is considering a bill, HB 1568, an act relative to service animals, that would make it a “crime to impersonate a person with a disability in order to receive a service animal or service animal accessories.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) grants certain rights to people with service animals and prohibits discrimination related to them. Service dogs, in particular, are the most often recognized animals who help perform tasks for people who have mental and physical disabilities. As the number of pet owners trying to pass their animals off as service animals grows, there may be a backlash against those who are validly entitled to use service animals.
The ADA does not require animals to be certified; it does require an owner to have documentation of a disability.
New Hampshire residents can contact their representatives to encourage them to support HB 1568. Residents of other states, contact your legislators to see if there are laws in your state. If not, ask them to sponsor a law that would protect the rights of service animals and their owners and punish those who fraudulently misrepresent their animals as service animals.