Ala. law aims to penalize people with fake service dogs

Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 at 7:19 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A new Alabama law aims to deter people from pretending their dog is a service animal when it is just a pet.

Under the new law, there is a $100 fine and a requirement for a person to work 100 hours of community service.

Frances McGowin is the executive director of Service Dogs Alabama and said anyone can fake having a service dog. McGowin said there is not a system on the state or federal level requiring someone to prove their dog is a service animal.

“They don’t know if a dog walking into your business with a vest on is truly a service dog that is saving that person’s life, or if this is someone’s pet and they bought a vest online," McGowin said.

Federal law says you can’t ask someone what their disability is or require medical documentation for the dog or owner. However, state and federal law says you can ask if the dog is a service animal and what tasks the dog performs.

“So that’s why there needs to be some kind of a regulatory system in place for people that need service dogs so they have legitimate ID cards that are recognized by the federal government,” she said.

The law goes into effect Sept. 1.

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