Michigan Looks To Define Law Regarding Emotional Support Animals
Locally the conversation really sparked when a military veteran was asked to leave Holiday Bar on the west side of Grand Rapids because he had a service animal.
The bartender was concerned about the safety of the dog and the patrons, but because of the American Disabilities Act, it’s illegal to refuse entry or service to someone with a service animal; and you’re not allowed to ask if it’s a legit service animal.
According to MLive Federal Law has a definition for a service dog:
Federal law defines a service dog as a dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Emotional support animals are a different category altogether, one that hasn't been defined in Michigan law.
In relation to the incident at Holiday Bar, the guy had a true service animal; BUT what about everyone else who says their cat, turtle or untrained dog is an EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
This becomes the problem on a number of levels, but what happens when your pooch you love so you made him or her an emotional support animal, gets overwhelmed in a crowded place and bites people, because it wasn’t properly trained to be a “service animal”? Or when a place says no pets, but you pull the emotional support card and then your animal destroys a house or pees in places it shouldn’t, because again, it wasn’t properly trained to be a service animal?
TRUE service animals go through a lot of training, much like the dog the military veteran had at Holiday Bar. So in his case, the dog was trained to be in crazy, loud, crowed areas.
MLive reports that under the new proposed law, if you live in Michigan and want an emotional support animal, you’d have to see a doctor for at least 6 months for the condition in which you feel you need an emotional support animal. The doctor would also have to certify that they have been treating you for this condition and the emotional support animal is necessary. Your doctor also would have to agree, that without the animal, your disability would keep you from opportunities that others without your disability could achieve or have.
Also under the new bill, according to MLive, anyone in Michigan trying to pass off a “fake” emotional support animal could be punished. You could face jail time and if you rent, you could be evicted for lying about your emotional support animal.
MLive reports the bill is in response to landlord and airlines that need and want a clearer definition of what classifies as a service animal, because a lot like how your cousin became a certified minister so he could officiate a wedding, you can find a litany of companies who offer service support certifications for your animal. Yet, they don’t have to certify that the animal is actually trained to behave in stressful situations or was even trained to deal with your disability/condition.
Right now according to MLive, the bill is still in committee and would need to be passed by the state House, Senate and of course Governor Synder.