Iowa About To Crack Down On Fake Service Dogs
If it seems like you're seeing more and more service dogs in Iowa, you may be partially right. I feel like I've definitely seen more of them lately. I've seen them at the grocery store, airplane, and even in a movie theater lately. However, some of them may not actually be service dogs. It's caused our representatives at the Iowa Statehouse to take action, at the request of veterans.
The Iowa Senate has unanimously approved File 2365, sending it to the Iowa House. According to the bill, it will provide
penalties for misrepresenting oneself as entitled to an assistance animal or an assistive animal in housing and for misrepresenting an animal as an assistive animal or a service dog and including applicability provisions.
Senator Dan Dawson of Council Bluffs told the Des Moines Register,
Veterans brought this forward, saying, 'Can you please help us?' Then we started delving into it further and talked with landlords and things like that, and we understand that there is a bigger problem out there.
Dawson says the service dogs of some veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder have been attacked by untrained companion animals. Dawson also claims people are buying dog harnesses and certificates online that show their animals as service dogs, even though they are not.
Iowa isn't the only state where this is a problem. As of late last year, nearly 20 states were cracking down on fake service animals, according to PBS. When those "fake" animals cause problems in public spaces, it causes people to look unfavorably on the approximate 20,000 "real" service dogs in the U.S... a number provided by the American Humane Association.
If the bill approved in the Senate becomes Iowa law, misrepresenting a dog as a service animal would be a simple misdemeanor. The offender could receive a fine and up to 30 days in jail.