Washington House Approves Fines For People Who Lie About Non-Trained Service Animals

Feb 8, 2018

People with trained service animals helped write a bill in the Washington legislature that would fine owners who fraudulently claim their animals are trained.
Credit Spokane Cares

The Washington House has taken a step toward punishing people who misrepresent their animals as service animals.

The chamber on Thursday approved a bill that gives law enforcement officers the right to question animal owners if it’s not obvious the person has a disability. If it’s determined the owner is lying, the officer can write a ticket that carries a fine of up to $500.

Supporters say many people take advantage of the federal law that allows trained service animals to accompany their owners anywhere.

“When we start having issues in our grocery stores, our libraries, our restaurants, where people are bringing in not only service dogs that are not service dogs, but also other animals, animals such as a snake or a cat and trying to misrepresent them as service animals, then we have trouble for citizens and for especially those in the disabled community who support this bill,” said Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland).

Rep. Vincent Buys (R-Lynden) says people with trained service animals helped to craft the bill.

“Having non-trained service animals or emotional service animals, emotional support animals, it is very distracting and I think it does a disservice to those citizens that need that support," Buys said.

The vote in the House was unanimous. The bill now moves to the Senate.