Arkansas bill would make lying about pets being service animals illegal

A bill that passed the Arkansas House this week would make lying about your pet being a service animal to a person or entity operating a public accommodation illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $250.

Local news outlet KTHV reports Senate Bill 654 cleared the Senate unanimously last week and passed the House Monday and is now headed to Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) for his signature.

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Service animals are typically dogs that are trained to assist people with physical disabilities. Service animals are different from support animals, which are more commonly used for emotional issues.

State Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R) said he introduced the legislation after receiving complaints from constituents that people were falsely claiming their pets to be service animals, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“This is something that our constituents see, and, frankly, are tired of seeing,” he said.

People sometimes misrepresent their pets as service animals to avoid paying an extra fee at certain apartment complexes or in order to bring a pet to a hotel without paying more.

Several other states have similar measures in place. Dismang said he used those measures as the foundation for the Arkansas bill.