Home » New Texas Law Increases Fines For Fake Service Animals

New Texas Law Increases Fines For Fake Service Animals.

Published on April 06, 2024 by Darren Jorgensen
The State of Texas has passed a new law that aims to crack down on people trying to represent their pets as service animals falsely. HB 4164, which took effect on September 1, makes the false representation of animals as service animals a crime punishable by $1,000 and up to 30 hours of community service.
Texas Service Animal

Introduction

The law targets the improper use and treatment of an assistance animal or service animals by increasing the criminal penalty. The bill defines a service animal as a “Canine specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability.”

According to locals and legislators, misrepresentation of service dogs has increased new challenges for those in need. In a conversation with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, Texas Rep. Vikki Goodwin (R-47) stated, “HB 5206 (a companion bill) should help restore the reputation that trained service dogs have earned and limit negative interactions that service dogs experience.”

During an interaction with the Texas Humane Legislation Network, Shelby Bobosky said, “In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of non-disabled people that represent their pets as service animals, It’s really evident when you bring an untrained or misbehaved dog into a restaurant and you can see them jumping on a table, barking — that is definitely not a service animal. Maybe those people that have bought those fake vests and fake certificates will think twice about taking advantage of it.”

Many Texas residents often get confused between a service animal, an emotional support animal, and a therapy or comfort animal, so let us help you understand each of them.

Difference Between Service, Emotional, And Therapy Animal?

Americans With Disabilities Act ADA defines a service animal as a canine trained to perform specific tasks related to their owner’s disability. The disability can be a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental condition. Emotional support animals comfort their owners but are not trained to perform a specific task to benefit the owner and, therefore, don’t qualify as service animals under the ADA. Moreover, ESAs are not limited to the concept of dogs. Therapy animals are the animals that help individuals with disability to improve their physical, social, emotional, or cognitive functioning. Therapy animals are not trained to perform a specific task.

What Will Change With the Coming Of New Service Animal Law In Texas?

With the implementation of HB 4164, the individuals who falsely represent their dog as a service animal will be subjected to a fine. The fine was earlier $300 and now has increased to $1,000 as per new law. However, if you have a dog that is trained to perform the tasks related to your disability then you need not worry. You can enjoy the companionship of your service dog hassle-free provided you must get a legitimate PSD letter from a licensed mental health professional in Texas.

The PSD letter acts as a prescription that states the role of the service animal for the well-being of the individual. With a legitimate PSD, all your rights are secured under the ADA. Moreover, the ADA doesn’t require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness for identification or else. Therefore, you must beware of websites that sell service animal certification, registration, vests, ID tags, or specific harnesses. The only legally legitimate document required for a service animal is a PSD letter.

Posted in: News

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Darren Jorgensen
Darren M. Jorgensen has a fondness for all animals, though dogs especially, have a huge home in his heart. He enjoys quilting, making handcrafted soap and bodyworks and anything that produces practical products. Jorgensen lives with his own service dog who doubles as an Emotional Support Animal. He gets it.

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