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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Baransy

Service Dogs - Warning... know the law!

When renting in Florida, please do not call your ESA or support pet a service animal. Please Don’t be fooled or conned by advertisement and online companies thinking you can certify or have papers to make your PET an emotional service animal or ESA to avoid pet fees for there is no such thing by Florida Law. By calling your dog a service animal you are breaking the law and even worse, You are making things harder for folks with disabilities with an ACTUAL service dog.

 

A Service dog is NOT A PET.


Warning!!!  A person who knowingly and willfully misrepresents herself or himself, through conduct or verbal or written notice, as using a service animal and being qualified to use a service animal or as a trainer of a service animal commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083 and must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months.



 

Please read the LAW in Florida.Service animals in Florida.The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)Title XXXSOCIAL WELFARE


Chapter 413EMPLOYMENT AND RELATED SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES


413.08 Rights and responsibilities of an individual with a disability; use of a service animal; prohibited

discrimination in public employment, public accommodations, and housing accommodations; penalties. (d)


“Service animal” means an animal that is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work done or tasks performed must be directly related to the individual’s disability and may include, but are not limited to, guiding an individual who is visually impaired or blind, alerting an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, assisting with mobility or balance, alerting and protecting an individual who is having a seizure, retrieving objects, alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to an individual with a mobility disability, helping an individual with a psychiatric or neurological disability by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors, reminding an individual with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming an individual with posttraumatic stress disorder during an anxiety attack, or doing other specific work or performing other special tasks. A service animal is not a pet. For purposes of subsections (2), (3), and (4), the term “service animal” is limited to a dog or miniature horse. The crime-deterrent effect of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for purposes of this definition.

 

(2) An individual with a disability is entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges in all public accommodations. A public accommodation must modify its policies, practices, and procedures to permit use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. This section does not require any person, firm, business, or corporation, or any agent thereof, to modify or provide any vehicle, premises, facility, or service to a higher degree of accommodation than is required for a person not so disabled.

(3) An individual with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas of a public accommodation that the public or customers are normally permitted to occupy.

(a) The service animal must be under the control of its handler and must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control by means of voice control, signals, or other effective means.

(b) Documentation that the service animal is trained is not a precondition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. A public accommodation may not ask about the nature or extent of an individual’s disability. To determine the difference between a service animal and a pet, a public accommodation may ask if an animal is a service animal required because of a disability and what work or tasks the animal has been trained to perform.

(c) A public accommodation may not impose a deposit or surcharge on an individual with a disability as a precondition to permitting a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if a deposit is routinely required for pets.

(d) An individual with a disability is liable for damage caused by a service animal if it is the regular policy and practice of the public accommodation to charge nondisabled persons for damages caused by their pets.

(e) The care or supervision of a service animal is the responsibility of the individual owner. A public accommodation is not required to provide care or food or a special location for the service animal or assistance with removing animal excrement.

(f) A public accommodation may exclude or remove any animal from the premises, including a service animal, if the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it, the animal is not housebroken, or the animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to an individual with a service animal. If a service animal is excluded or removed for being a direct threat to others, the public accommodation must provide the individual with a disability the option of continuing access to the public accommodation without having the service animal on the premises.

 

Warning!!!  A person who knowingly and willfully misrepresents herself or himself, through conduct or verbal or written notice, as using a service animal and being qualified to use a service animal or as a trainer of a service animal commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083 and must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months.

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