Republican State Rep. Kim Ferguson of Holden is sponsoring a bill that would penalize those who say their animals are service dogs when they’re not. The proposed changes were discussed on Tuesday, September 12th and it is expected that Massachusetts lawmakers should swiftly codify into law.
The proposed changes to Chapter 272 of the General Laws would state in relevant part:
Section 98B. (d) It shall be a civil infraction for any individual to misrepresent a pet dog as a service dog. A violation of this section occurs when:
(1) An individual expressly or impliedly represents that a dog in his or her possession is his or her service dog or a service-dog-in-training for the purpose of obtaining any rights or privileges afforded disabled persons accompanied by service dogs, but unavailable to people and their pets, and
(2) Said individual knew or should have known that the dog in question did not meet the definition of a service animal or service-animal-in-training.
(3) It is an intentional misrepresentation and a violation of this section for an individual to take a dog into a place of public accommodation where pets are not permitted, and the dog is wearing a cape, vest, special leash, or other form of identification that states or implies that the dog is a service dog entitled to be present, even if the individual makes no affirmative statements.
(e) Any police or animal control officer may investigate and enforce this section by making inquiry of the individual accompanied by the dog in question and issuing a citation. Refusal by the individual to answer the permissible questions shall create a presumption that the dog is not a service dog and the officer may issue the citation and require the individual to remove the dog from the place of public accommodation.
(f) A person who violates this section commits a civil infraction, punishable by 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months and/or pay a fine no more than $500.
Click here to read the full text of the proposed bill: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2277
Click here to read more about service dogs in Massachusetts: http://www.mass.gov/ago/consumer-resources/your-rights/civil-rights/disability-rights/information-about-service-animals.html