By Bob Katzen

The House gave initial approval to and sent to the Senate a bill that would create a special commission to review current federal, state and local laws and procedures governing the use and misuse of service animals by individuals with disabilities in the Bay State.

The commission would recommend possible introduction of legislation prohibiting and civilly penalizing service animal fraud and determining the feasibility of certification, registration or licensing of service animals.

“I am pleased that this bill is moving forward,” said sponsor Rep. Kim Ferguson (R-Holden) who noted that some 28 states have already created laws regarding misuse of service animals. “Due to some minor issues and unresolved language with my other service animal bill … which I have filed for a few terms now, we decided to also file a bill this session creating this commission to delve into the issues and questions a little deeper first in order to resolve those matters. At this time there are no penalties for those who intentionally misrepresent (aka “fake” service dogs) which does harm to the true service dogs … Business owners have also been grappling with a range of issues when one of these dogs are brought into their business, restaurant etc.”

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