Service-dog laws in Arizona

service dogs

Photo courtesy of Canine Companions for Independence

There’s a new bill going through the Arizona Legislature to tighten the leash on people who try to pass their dogs off as service dogs.

Which I admit, I have been greatly tempted to do.

Like most of us, I like spending time with the dog and want to take her with me to grocery stores or Starbucks (although there is a pretty extensive list of dog-friendly places in Phoenix). Most of all, I would love her comforting presence when I fly. I’d gladly pay for her to sit with me on the plane (only domestic, of course –hey, not made of money here).

Why I don’t pass off my dog as a service dog

But I have talked with enough people who have trained dogs for people with disabilities, to realize that my poorly trained Beagle could give real service dogs a bad name. And “real’’ service dogs are true heroes – they can do everything from help people with hearing losses know if there is a knock on the door to alert people with neurological problems of potential seizures.

Apparently, there are others who are passing their dog off as a trained service dogs and now, a Fountain Hills legislator wants to rein them in.

Service-dog legislation

Sen. John Kavanagh wants judges to impose fines of up to $250 on anyone who fraudulently misrepresents an animal as a service animal or service animal in training to operators of businesses, public recreation sites, buses, taxis and ambulances.

Under SB 1040, a business owner can file a complaint if they feel someone has brought in a fake service dog. The dog owner would have to prove otherwise. Kavanagh is no stranger to dog issues – he was a guiding force behind last year’s legislation to help dogs trapped in hot cars.

“It’s amazing that you can’t get a placard to park your car in a disabled spot unless a doctor certifies that you’re disabled.

“But, pretty much, today everybody can walk around and buy vests (for their animals) on the internet and claim non-trained animals are service animals. It makes no sense to me,” he told KJZZ.

The other side of service dog

Attorneys for the Arizona Center for Disability Law, which represents people with disabilities, said Kavanagh is trying to solve a non-existent problem.

Arizona law already gives businesses the right to eject any animal — including a service animal — if it misbehaves, is not housebroken, poses an “undue burden” or “poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others,” say center attorneys.

Arizona isn’t the only state looking at this: At least 19 others have cracked down on fraudulent service dogs. Massachusetts is now considering a similar proposal to Arizona’s.

What do you think?

For dog lovers, this is interesting stuff. We love our dogs and always want them nearby. Yet, we, more than others, understand how much a dog could mean to someone who faces really tough challenges every day.

If you have any thoughts, pass them along to your legislator.

 

Hikes, dogs and the heat

dog hike on hot trail

Want to take your dog out for a hike?

Just do it before it gets to be 100 degrees out – that’s the law now in the city of Phoenix.

The city of Phoenix changed what had been an interim policy into a permanent ban and now dogs shouldn’t be on th trails once the temperature is 100 degrees or more. Phoenix is the first city in the country to have laws like this on the books.

New hiking rules for dogs

The new rules cover all city of Phoenix trails; however there are certain Phoenix trails that dogs can’t go on no matter what the weather is.

Under PCC 24-54 (failure to comply), people who hike with their dogs when it is 100 degrees or hotter could be subject to a Class One Misdemeanor that could include a fine of up to $2,500 and six months jail time.

Why do we need such a rule for hikes?

Anyone who hikes in Phoenix knows the answer to this. We’ve all seen dogs on out on trail when it was just too hot for them. It’s one thing for dumb humans to go out when it is too hot but it’s just unconscionable to bring a dog out in the heat like that.

Phoenix veterinarians who practice near popular city hiking trails report they frequently treat hiker dogs who have been overheated. And, vet warn sometimes dogs brought in for heat exhaustion don’t survive the ordeal.

While the city of Phoenix didn’t have any statistics on the numbers of dogs affected by heat in the mountain preserves , the city of Glendale reported in 2011 that three dogs passed away on trails. The only way the city knew about those deaths was because the fire department was called to help the dogs. “For everyone incident reported, we believe there are dozens of animal fatalities that we don’t hear about,’’ said Sue Breding, Glendale spokeswoman.

Heat is dangerous for dogs

Dogs can’t cool off as easily as humans because they don’t sweat like we do.

Dog lovers who want to get some exercise with the dog, should do it early in the morning or in the evening and bring plenty of water. And know the signs of heat distress in your dog.

Let’s stay safe (and legal) out there!