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Bill Would Penalize People For 'Fake' Service Dogs

BOSTON (CBS) – Advocates for service dogs for the disabled were at the State House Tuesday, lobbying for a bill that would penalize those who say their animals are service dogs when they're not.

Kaitlyn Steinke of Falmouth and her dog Jones were among those in favor of what's been called the fake service dog bill.

"I've had Jones for nine months now and we've seen almost 100 fraudulent service dogs out in our community," she told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Doug Cope.

Steinke says allowing dogs into businesses when they're not properly trained could be a danger to employees and customers.

"To have able-bodied people represent their dogs fraudulently is taking away from our rights under the ADA," she said.

The bill's sponsor, Republican State Rep. Kim Ferguson of Holden, says misrepresenting dogs as service animals is a growing problem.

"I have pets at home, I love my pets and they certainly are a source of comfort and joy for me," she said. "But I don't put a vest on them and pretend to have the same access as other legitimate service dogs and their handlers have."

A dozen other states have laws on the books making "fake service dogs" a crime.

The measure has wide support in the House. It would impose a penalty of community service and/or up to a $500 fine for those misrepresenting their dogs as service dogs.

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