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On Your Side: New Missouri law aims to curb fake service dog problem

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 6:21 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Starting next month, a new Missouri law goes into effect to curb the growing problem of fake service dogs.

If you fake it, you could face misdemeanor charges and pay a fine that could be a few hundred dollars.

Under this act, any person knowingly misrepresenting a dog as a service dog will face consequences. You can’t have a fake service dog for the purpose of accommodations, like taking your animal into the grocery store or on a plane.

The law also aims to protect landlords from tenants who falsely claim their dog is a service dog.

You might remember this On Your Side Investigation.

Ashley Reynolds used her own dog, Chase, as an example.

He can’t sit on command, but in less than one hour, she got the documents that read he was a service animal and it was okay to put him on a plane and take him into restaurants.

She didn’t.

Real service dog trainers tell On Your Side the new law is a step in the right direction.

“There wasn’t really a consequence. People didn’t think twice. I’m just going to go online and get a service dog certificate. I worry about what legitimate service dog handlers might be going through if they get falsely accused. What kind of proof they might have to have from their doctor, or do we need to make a real registry? A lot of the little details need to be worked out. That will probably come with time,” said Misti Fry with Side Kick Dog Training.

The new law also modifies the definition of a “service dog” to include a “mental health service dog”.

The Governor’s Council on Disability will make a placard for businesses that read ‘misrepresenting a service dog is a violation of Missouri law’.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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