ESA Weekly News October 27th: Michigan Debates ESA Laws and North Dakota Law Weeds Out Fake Service AnimalsReading Time: 2 minutes
It’s been a crazy week for emotional support animal news. Michigan started debating new emotional support animal (ESA) laws in the state senate this week. Meanwhile, North Dakota passed a law to punish those who misrepresent service animals. Keep reading to get the full scoop.
Michigan State Debates New ESA Bill
This past week, Michigan representatives went over the proposed House Bills 4910 and 4911. This bi-partisan effort aims to criminalize misrepresenting ESAs to housing providers. In other words, it would make it a misdemeanor to lie to a landlord about having a legitimate emotional support animal.
As of yet, no decision has been made. Yet, there are many supporters of the bills in the House. Those in favor claim it will ultimately protect those who genuinely need an ESA in their lives. Meanwhile, those against say these bills vilify and attack people with mental health disabilities.
If the bills pass, a tenant who lies to their landlord would be evicted. They could also be charged with a misdemeanor, fined up to $500 and be sentenced to up to 30 days of community service.
This bill would make it mandatory to get a notarized ESA letter. It would have to be issued by a therapist treating the patient for at least six months.
North Dakota Punishes Fake Service Animals
Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill 1259 during their last session. This bill makes it illegal for a pet owner to pass off their companion as a service dog. It came into effect on August 1st. Those caught violating it will have to pay a fine of up to $1,000.
Never before have so many people claimed to have a service dog by their side. Be it when moving into a new apartment or going into a public facility (restaurant, stores, etc). According to many business owners and dog trainers, not all of these so-called service dogs are legit.
There’s a whole underground service dog market. You can find online businesses selling “service dog registrations” and “service dog vests,” even though these have no legal worth.
HB 1259 is already cracking down on these phony service dogs. North Dakota is now joining a list of more than 20 states where service dog misrepresentation is illegal and punishable.
CertaPet’s Thoughts on This Week’s News
We’re always happy to see more regulations cracking down on fake ESAs and other assistance animals. It’s a good thing people passing off their pets as legit emotional support animals will face the consequences.
However, demanding that someone needs to be treated for at least six months by a therapist is unreasonable and insensitive, in our opinion. For many, their ESA is the only thing making their lives worth living and keeping them grounded. Make no mistake, ESAs are lifesavers—literally.
We’re also thrilled to see North Dakota getting serious with service animal fraud. It’s something that harms those who need their service animal by their side for medical reasons.
If you live with a mental or emotional disability, getting an ESA could drastically improve your life. CertaPet makes the process more accessible and easier to understand. Take our simple, yet thorough 5-minute pre-screening test for free to get started. We’ll connect you to a licensed mental health professional in your state and they’ll handle the process from there. You could be holding an ESA letter in your hands in no time!
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