The Senate Judiciary Committee heard a bill this week to address the problem of fake service animals. There has been a surge in instances of people misrepresenting their companion animals as service animals recently, sometimes leading to tragic results. A case in northern Minnesota in which a fake service dog attacked a genuine service dog, ultimately leading to the service dog’s death, was the driving force behind the bill.
The bill makes it a crime to misrepresent a service animal. A first offense is a petty misdemeanor and a second and subsequent offense is a misdemeanor. It also shields business owners from liability if an assistance animal causes injury or damage in their place of business, putting responsibility on the animal’s handler. The bill passed and will next be heard on the Senate floor. (SF 2646)