Those people who bring their pets into restaurants and grocery stores, trying to pass them off as service animals when they’re not, could be facing some stiff fines under a bill approved Thursday in the state House. John Sattgast with the Washington House Republicans reports from the state Capitol.

 

SATTGAST: Got a dog, cat, pig, chicken or even a peacock and it’s not a legitimately trained service animal? Instead of taking it grocery shopping or out to a restaurant for dinner, it’s probably best to leave it at home, unless you want to pay a $500 fine. The state House of Representatives has unanimously approved a bill that would make it a civil infraction for a person to misrepresent their pet as a service animal. Representative Mike Steele of Chelan authored the bill.

STEELE: “If you misrepresent a service animal, one of our local law enforcement officers can come and ask that individual — is this a service animal and what service does it perform? And if that service is not performed or proven, the officer can either issue a citation or ask the individuals to leave the premise.”

SATTGAST: Steele says service animals are trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. Untrained animals, he says, can be disruptive, cause security problems, as well as health issues. The bill, which now goes before the Senate, is intended to protect access to places of businesses for legitimate service animals. But if you’ve put your Pomeranian in a purse while you’re shopping just because it’s cute, that shopping trip may cost you a lot more if the bill becomes law.

John Sattgast, Olympia.