MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers are cracking down on people who pretend to have service animals.
Minneapolis resident Terri Krake said her service dog, Brody, means the world to her. He saved her during 66 seizures in just one year, using a magnet on his collar.
“He’ll rise up, the magnet hits the device in my chest, no seizure,” Krake said.
Which is why Krake has Brody with her at all times, but she said she often sees people in stores pretending their dog is a service animal.
“Every day I am affected by fake service dogs,” said Plymouth resident Beth Kantor.
She has a service dog named Dazzle, who helps her manage symptoms of multiple sclerosis. She says fake service dogs often misbehave in public, or act violent.
“You walk in and the first think they think is, ‘Is that a real service dog?’ And, ‘How will they behave?'” Kantor said.
Minnesota lawmakers introduced legislation that would make impersonating a person with a disability and using a fake service animal illegal.
“When people misrepresent their animals. they damage the reputation and acceptance, which is important piece, of valid service animals, and [diminish] people with disabilities who truly need them,” said Sen. Justin Eichorn.
The legislation would make impersonating a service animal a petty misdemeanor, with a $100 fine for the first offense, and a misdemeanor for further offenses.
But how do you enforce it? Police can ask someone with an invisible disability two questions approved by the Americans with Disabilities Act: Is this a service animal required because of a disability? Also, what work or tasks is the animal trained to perform?
This legislation would not apply to airlines because they have their own rules.
There are already 20 other states that have similar service dog laws.