Joint Committee to Hold Hearing on Service Animal Misrepresentation Bill

Peter Vickery, Esq.

Legislative Affairs Counsel

The legislature is considering a bill (H. 1565) that would make it a civil infraction to misrepresent that a dog is “a service dog or a service-dog-in-training for the purpose of obtaining any rights or privileges afforded to a person with a disability requiring the assistance of a service dog.”

If H.1565 passes, you could face penalties for claiming a pet or assistance animal is a service animal.
Image credit: CC by SA 4 MassLandlords

The bill would make violators subject to a fine and community service. On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hold a virtual hearing on this bill and about a dozen others, starting at 10 a.m., which will be livestreamed.

Please note: A “service animal” is not the same as “assistance animal,” and this bill does not cover assistance animals such as emotional support animals. A service animal is trained to perform a disability-related task, whereas an assistance animal (e.g., an emotional support animal) is not. If you think that the bill should cover assistance animals as well, you may wish to testify, either by participating in the virtual hearing or by submitting written testimony.

To register to testify, please provide contact information on this form by 5 p.m. on May 18, 2021. Once registered, you will receive further instruction on how to participate. The Committee’s website states: “The Chair will limit testimony to 3 minutes per speaker and reserves the right to call public officials out of turn.”

You can submit written testimony via e-mail to jacqueline.o.manning@mahouse.gov.

 

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