Service Animals

Misrepresenting a pet as a service animal is now a crime in Iowa —

But hospitality business owners need to exercise caution

A new law was passed in Iowa that makes it possible to charge people with a simple misdemeanor if  they enter a grocery store, restaurant or other public place and falsely claim their pet is a service animal.

As of July 1, falsely claiming to have a service animal is punishable by a fine or up to 30 days in jail. To be convicted of a crime, the person must have previously received a written warning about lying about being accompanied by a service animal and must know that their animal is not, in fact, a service animal or a service animal in training. At this time, the specific rules around how to report a suspected fraud have not been written.

While this law is a step in the right direction, business owners must be careful about how they enforce the new law.  All federal ADA laws still apply–meaning  you are still not allowed to ask for proof that a dog is a service dog. In fact, there are only two questions to those with animals allowed under the ADA. ·         Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? ·         What work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Service dog owners may not be asked about the nature of their disability. They may not be required to provide documentation of the dog’s training. They may not be asked to demonstrate the work the dog is trained to do.  Know the facts.  They may be found here. Read the new Iowa law here.

The Iowa Restaurant Association is developing model signage for businesses to use.

Watch for a mid-June update from the Association.