Making it a crime to lie about your service animal

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In Iowa, USA, if you lie about your service animal you may be committing a crime. Gov. Kim Reynolds has just signed off a new law which makes it a crime to claim a pet is a service animal if the owner does not have a disability or the person has not demonstrated a need for a service animal.

For instance, with respect to rented housing, the owner of the service animal has to provide proof that they are disabled and need a service animal. I presume that it also applies to travelling by air. The landlord also has an obligation: to allow a person with a disability to have a service animal.

It would be a misdemeanour (a lesser crime) to lie by stating that your pet is a service animal when he/she is not.

There seems to be a fear by disability rights organisations that the new law may result in unfortunate situations where the disabled person shows no obvious signs of disability but claims his pet is a service animal. The recommendation would be that the disabled person should carry documentary evidence of their disability. Perhaps their doctor could provide a signed document confirming the diagnosis and need for a service animal.

Examples of disabilities which are not immediately obvious are PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder or diabetes.

Note: the ADA National Network says that there is a difference between emotional support animals and service animals.

“While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA.”

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