Florida Law Addresses “Fake” Service Animals

trooperIn June of last year the Florida State Legislature amended CS/HB 71 on service animals, to reflect changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act and to update the language. The law took effect on July 1, 2015. Most of the changes were innocuous, however there are two interesting additions to the law.

The first addition implemented a penalty for businesses or people who deny access to customers with service animals.

“Any person, firm, or corporation, or the agent of any person, firm, or corporation, who denies or interferes with admittance to, or enjoyment of, a public accommodation or with regard to a public accommodation, otherwise interferes with the rights of an individual with a disability or the trainer of a service animal while engaged in the training of such an animal pursuant to subsection (8), commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083 and must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months.”

And on the flip side, they also instituted the same penalty for people who have “fake” service animals.

“A person who knowingly and willfully misrepresents herself or himself, through conduct or verbal or written notice, as using a service animal and being qualified to use a service animal or as a trainer of a service animal commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083 and must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months.”

It should be noted that in Florida, second degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. This would be in addition to the required community service under this law.

Granted, I think the former will be easier to prove than the latter, but I find it interesting that they included both. I guess it’s just one more sign of the times that the public is getting fed up with the fakers. And as I’ve said time and time again, the fakers really make it harder for people with legitimate service animals.

Hopefully the Department of Justice will follow suit.