Service animals have many uses. Unfortunately, some people mistakenly claim their pets as service animals. Recently, New York and other states are cracking down on these fraudulent animal assistance requests. Find out why the courts are taking these requests seriously and what it means for you.
What are Fraudulent Animal Assistance Requests?
Before you can understand the reasons for the fraudulent animal assistance requests, you need to understand what they are. When an individual has some type of disability, he could use a service animal to help with that disability. However, without the appropriate paperwork, that individual might not be able to take his service animal where he needs to go.
For example, an apartment complex might not permit dogs. Without a service animal designation, that individual wouldn’t be able to live in the complex. The same is true of public places, like retail locations.
When you have a legitimate need for a service animal, you can get paperwork that designates your pet as a legal service animal. Your service dog or an emotional support animal has access to areas where other pets don’t have access. However, some of those requests are fraudulent.
People who make fraudulent animal assistance requests don’t have a true service animal. However, they make false claims that their animals are service animals. In the past, these false claims came with minimum to no penalties. Now, the state of New York takes them more seriously.
New Penalties for False Claims
For several reasons, New York decided that it was time to crack down on fraudulent animal assistance requests. New legislation makes it a criminal offense to falsely identify a pet as an emotional support or service animal.
As of December 18, 2017, the state enacted the new law. Anyone who misidentifies a dog as a service or support animal could face up to 15 days in jail and a fine. That fine could be as much as $100. While the penalty might not seem severe, it is. Jail time could have a major impact on your life. For years, your criminal charges could follow you around.
Why the Harsh Stance?
There are many reasons that states look down upon these fraudulent requests. Here are a few reasons for the new law:
Fraudulent claims seem to be on the rise
Across the country, fraudulent animal assistance claims are increasing. The problem is large enough that lawmakers are noticing an issue.
There is no way to know for sure why these claims are on the rise. However, there are a few likely reasons. For one, there’s the cost. Often, apartments in the city have no-pet policies or have high pet deposits. In an effort to get around the policies, an individual might misidentify his service animal. Secondly, an individual might want the ability to take his pet anywhere. With the right designation, this is possible.
It hurts those who need service animals
With so many fraudulent animal assistance requests, some apartment managers don’t take service animals seriously. They might try to deny legitimate requests. If someone has a disability and needs his dog, then he might need to find new housing.
Another consequence could be an increased difficulty in getting a service animal designation. These requests could ultimately make it more difficult for those with disabilities to obtain a service or support animal designation. For many individuals with physical and mental challenges, this could make life more difficult.
When people misidentify their service animals, it puts other service animal owners in a bad light. It’s unfair, and it’s unnecessary. With this new law, those who have disabilities have some protection. Apartment managers can continue to honor service animals. Likewise, the requirements for service and support animals can remain the same.
You can buy emotional support licensing online
These days, you can buy almost anything on the internet. This is true of emotional support animal designations. On certain websites, you can pay to get a support animal designation. However, this is not legitimate.
With enough money, anyone can get a support animal designation through the website. To have a true support animal designation, you need to go through other channels. This new law aims to prevent these designations from being so prevalent.
Fighting the Charges
If you find yourself facing charges for misidentifying your service animal, then you need help. The consequences of the charges are quite serious. With a conviction on your record, you put your future in jeopardy. You might be unable to find work or to find housing.
To prevent any severe consequences, you should contact a lawyer. A lawyer can defend you against the charges. Instead of leaving your fate in the hands of a judge or jury, you can take fate into your own hands. Contact us and fight the charges.