Several bills this session dealt with provisions relating to service dogs. SB 644 was filed by Senator Denny Hoskins and passed during the last days of the Legislative session. The bill includes a definition of “mental health or psychiatric service dog” and also adds provisions dealing with falsely representing the dog as a service animal.
The bill outlines the definition of ‘service’ dog -trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or mental disability- to include:
- Guide Dogs
- Hearing Dogs
- Medical alert
- Mental Health or psychiatric
- Mobility dog
- Professional therapy dog
- Search and Rescue dogs; and
- Service dog team.
According to the bill, any person who knowingly impersonates a person with a disability for the purpose of receiving the accommodations regarding service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act is considered guilty of a class C misdemeanor and can be held civilly liable for the amount of any actual damages resulting from such impersonation.
This bill will impact transit providers in Missouri as clarifications to the definition of a ‘service’ dog and penalties associated with impersonation provide a foundation for their service animal policies.