Penalties Increasing in Texas for Folks that Fake Service Dogs
If you're someone that pretends that your dog is a service dog so they can come around with you for the day, you may want to think twice about doing that.
You have seen that you can pretty much get anything online nowadays. Including those vests for your dog that say "service dog." Sadly, folks have taken advantage of this and now bring their dogs everywhere. Nothing against dogs, I love them. Sadly though, some of these "service dogs" have actually attacked folks because they're not actually a service dog.
If you or someone you know fakes having a service dog, a new Texas law is officially increasing the penalties if you're caught with a fake service dog.
New Texas Law
House Bill 4164 was officially passed in Texas and will take effect on September 1, 2023. After the bill goes into effect, it will be a misdemeanor in Texas for someone to intentionally fake a service dog and increases the fine from $300 to $1,000 and adds 30 hours of community service to a nonprofit or government agency serving people with disabilities.
This new law does not mention anything about emotional support animals. Below you will find a list of service dogs that the ADA officially recognizes.
Types of Service Dogs
- Guide Dogs - Help with visually impaired people
- Hearing Dogs - Help with hearing impaired people
- Diabetic Alert Dogs - Can alert their owner of a possible change in blood sugar levels.
- Allergy Detection Dogs - For people with severe allergies, these dogs are trained to alert you if the thing you're allergic to is in the area.
- Mobility Assistance Dogs - People with severe mobility issues.
- Anxiety Assistance Dogs - The dog is trained to comfort you before a possible anxiety attack happens.
- PTSD Assistance Dogs - For someone suffering with PTSD, the dog is trained to comfort you during those rough times.
- Autism Support Dogs - For someone with autism, having a companion has been shown to greatly improve their daily life. The dog is trained to also keep an eye on the individual and not let them wander off as well.
- Medical Service Dogs - Dogs trained to help in the medical emergency. Can actually fetch medications and actually call 911 in an emergency (Seriously look it up). Many folks that have epilepsy have a medical service dog.
How Can You Determine if a Dog is Actually a Service Dog?
This is where things can get tricky. You cannot ask the owner of the dog to demonstrate what the dog does or ask for any documentation on the service dog. Here is what you can ask:
- "Is the dog a service animal required due to a disability?"
- "What work or task is the dog trained to do?"
That way, if the dog starts barking, people will know what that means. For instance, if someone had a diabetic alert dog, the dogs barking means someone should get the owner some food, a drink or some medication.
So, if you're someone that fakes a service dog, you will want to stop doing that in Texas. Probably should stop doing it everywhere, to be honest.