Update on The Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act

I’m sure you may have seen this in the news, at some point, where a passenger noted in her reservation that she was bringing an “emotional support animal” on her Frontier Airlines flight. She did not say it was a squirrel, which, again, is a rodent. Rodents, according to Frontier, are not allowed on airliners. There was another incident of a woman who tried to board a United flight last winter with her peacock. She’d been told “no” three times by United but still, she turned up at Newark International Airport with her peacock. These situations have led many states to impose rules and regulations governing “support animals” which brings us to Pennsylvania’s latest house bill dealing with this issue.

Pennsylvania joins 12 other states in protecting property owners from residents who fraudulently claim their pets to be service/emotional support/assistant animals. House Bill HB 2049 “The Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act” passed the Senate 48-1 and will now head to the Governor’s desk for his signature. HB 2049 defines an assistance and service animal consistent with federal and state laws. It requires that the person claiming the need for the “assistance or service animal” be one who has direct knowledge of the person’s disability and disability-related need for the “assistance or service animal”. It makes misrepresenting the therapeutic need for an “assistance animal” or fraudulently labeling of a pet as an “assistance animal” a crime. Once an animal is determined to be an “assistance animal”, it makes a landlord legally bound to accept the animal and it would hold the landlord harmless for any injuries the animal may cause to others.

Below is a copy of the bill for your review.

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

HOUSE BILL No. 2049 Session of 2018

INTRODUCED BY MOUL, MILLARD, M. K. KELLER, O’NEILL, WARD, ROTHMAN, ZIMMERMAN AND WATSON, FEBRUARY 2, 2018

AS REPORTED FROM COMMITTEE ON URBAN AFFAIRS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AS AMENDED, MARCH 12, 2018

AN ACT

Providing for requirements for documentation of the need for an assistance animal or service animal in housing and for the offenses of misrepresentation of entitlement to assistance animal or service animal and misrepresentation of animal as assistance animal or service animal.

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1.  Short title.

This act shall be known and may be cited as the Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act.

Section 2.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Assistance animal.”  An animal, other than a service animal, that qualifies as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act (Public Law 90-284, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-112, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.) or local law. The term includes an emotional support animal when the animal qualifies as a reasonable accommodation.

“Association.”  The owners association established to operate a condominium, cooperative or planned community located in this Commonwealth.

“Disability.”  A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.

“Service animal.”  An animal, other than an assistance animal, that qualifies as a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336, 104 Stat. 327) or as a guide or support animal under the act of October 27, 1955 (P.L.744, No.222), known as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act or local law.

Section 3.  Documentation of disability and disability-related need.

(a)  Right to request documentation.–A landlord who or association that receives a request from a person to make an exception to the landlord’s or association’s policy prohibiting animals or limiting the size, weight, breed or number of animals on the landlord’s property or within property controlled by the association because the person requires the use of an assistance animal or service animal may require the person to produce documentation of the disability and disability-related need for the animal only if the disability or disability-related need is not readily apparent or known to the landlord. or, in the case of an association, the executive board of the association.

(b)  Minimum standards.–Any documentation proving that a person is disabled and requires the use of an assistance animal or service animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing under the Fair Housing Act (Public Law 90-284, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-112, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336, 104 Stat. 327) or the act of October 27, 1955 (P.L.744, No.222), known as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act or local law shall:

(1)  Be in writing.

(2)  Be reliable and based on direct knowledge of the person’s disability and disability-related need for the assistance animal or service animal.

(3)  Describe the person’s disability-related need for the assistance animal or service animal.

Section 4.  Immunity.

Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a landlord or association shall not be liable for injuries caused by a person’s assistance animal or service animal permitted on the landlord’s property or within property controlled by the association as a reasonable accommodation to assist the person with a disability under the Fair Housing Act (Public Law 90-284, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.), section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-112, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336, 104 Stat. 327), the act of October 27, 1955 (P.L.744, No.222), known as the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act or any other Federal, State or local law.

Section 5.  Misrepresentation of entitlement to assistance animal or service animal.

(a)  Offense defined.–A person commits the offense of misrepresentation of entitlement to assistance animal or service animal if the person intentionally:

(1)  misrepresents to another that the person has a disability or disability-related need for the use of an assistance animal or service animal in housing; or

(2)  makes materially false statements for the purpose of obtaining documentation for the use of an assistance animal or service animal in housing.

(b)  Grading.–A person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Section 6.  Misrepresentation of animal as assistance animal or service animal.

(a)  Offense defined.–A person commits the offense of misrepresentation of an animal as an assistance animal or service animal if the person intentionally:

(1)  creates a document misrepresenting an animal as an assistance animal or service animal for use in housing;

(2)  provides a document to another falsely stating that an animal is an assistance animal or service animal for use in housing; or

(3)  fits an animal that is not an assistance animal or service animal with a harness, collar, vest or sign that the animal is an assistance animal or service animal for use in housing.

(b)  Grading.–A person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine not to exceed $1,000.

Section 7.  Effective date.

This act shall take effect in 60 days.