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Michigan service dog laws get a face lift

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—There’s relief for several people with disabilities in Michigan who count on a four-legged friend in their daily lives. A new state law went into effect this week updating Michigan’s rules on service animals.

The new registry for assistance dogs provides a patch and a state ID that any business owner or employer can look at and verify that the service dog is allowed in their establishment.

Deb Davis from Paws for a Cause told FOX 17 News that these changes have been in the works since the 1980s.

“One of the challenges prior to the law is the fact that anyone could walk into any establishment and claim that their dog is a service dog,” said Davis. “As more and more service animals have become apparent in our society, those people who are passing off their dog again just for comfort is not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

These laws also give a face lift to some outdated rules in Michigan, "for instance, the increase in a fee if it’s an owner claiming it’s a false service dog,” said Davis.

The registry is voluntary for any service dog owner.

For information on these new laws, click here.


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  • lilfarfa

    This law in unenforceable. The ADA states that no business can ask for ID of any kind. The ADA trumps the state law in this case, so it is a waste of tax payer money.

    It also creates a barrier for disabled service dog handlers. What if you are visiting from out of state, just moved to Michigan, or simply do not support a discriminatory law?

    • windchyme

      This is not illegal. I suggested similar to my representatives in California. Since it is voluntary it does not stand in the way of federal laws. There is nothing discriminatory about this new voluntary program and I think it is a good idea. Why would someone who is genuinely disabled have a problem having their doctor sign off to that fact? It’s a really simple form that gives no details about a diagnosis. It is a further protection for legitimate handlers against discrimination, harrassment and so forth.

      If a faker now feels pressured and “outed” because they can’t meet the membership requirements…that is their problem now isn’t it? The state cannot be held responsible for the behavior of others who make judgements about a team that is a member or not a member- that is on the individuals themselves.

      If a legitimate handler doesn’t feel like joining that is certianly their perogative- no one is holding a gun to your head. If I come to visit and I’m asked about my service dog I’ll simply explain I am in visiting from Calfornia. If I move there I’ll do the same until my membership is confirmed with the recently updated dr letter I’d bring with me from California so as to give me time to set up with and become familiar with a new doctor. Oh yes, I’d sign up…why not? Even though I can’t be asked for documentation doesn’t for an instant mean I don’t have it at home and I am free to volunteer it to whoever I choose whenever I choose.

      GOOD on you Michigan……YES!

      • Pami

        Did you know Hearing Dogs wear bright orange leash, collar, and harness also a orange vest.
        Also must know tasks under American with Disability Act
        Why do you think they put (S) on tasks it means more then one tasks.
        Also must know all basic training. To be able to go out in a public.
        I know ADA says you do not need a uniform on any service dog.
        But it masks life much easier when out in public places.
        Obey your state service dog laws

        • Patrick Reese

          Did you know there is no requirement for that under Federal law and it is a violation of Federal law for State’s to require the owner of a service animal to do this or anything else that specifically identifies an animal as a service animal?

          And did you know there are no Federal standards or certifications required under Federal law and it is a violation of Federal law for States to impose such certification requirements?

          • James Dismore

            Cite actual law not your opinion. You are correct, Patrick Reese and LILFARFA. According to ADA federal law, the state law is illegal. People should read the actual ADA law and follow it. People should not interject their “opinions” or what they may have heard. People state their opinions on what they think the law should be. Their opinions do not make it true or change the law. There is a reason why the law is as it is. It protects the disabled. No disabled person should have to be discouraged or barred from entering an establishment because they do not have a special vest as this MI law suggests. Even though the MI law states it is voluntary. The law suggests that establishments may bar the disabled for not having a special vest or ID. This is illegal and may cause the disabled to “not be allowed to enter”, may cause “undue personal stress” for the disabled, or may cause us to waste our time discussing the law on this website. Please use google to browse the actual government ADA law websites, not personal and private web sites that provide false information with their opinions. Cite actual law not your opinion.

  • Pami

    You are wrong about a doctor note for service dogs.
    If you get a bite note from your doctor then it is not a service dogs.
    Only Emotional Support animal need a not from their doctor.
    If your flying airport can ask for doctors note and tell you to have a vest and leash also a harness on and tags that say service dog or Hearing dog ect. Or the dog can not fly
    Airlines are not covered under American with Disability Act. So please read about service dog flying.
    This is the law!!!

  • Christian

    I approve of states adding extra laws on service animals, but dislike a state enforcing of a registry. I hear arguments of “why would you mind having a doctor sign”, but there are two issues with it.
    1) It’s jumping through hoops for an issue you probably wish you didn’t have. It’s spending more time and money.

    2) Last I heard, Michigan’s registry it mandatory. However, a state HAVING one itself will result in the bigger problem: There are too many places that issue fake service animal IDs. Since most in our society don’t care to learn laws, a business would not know how to differentiate between these, since most don’t know that it’s technically not required to even have one, and accept these cards in states that don’t even HAVE a registry, denying legitimate owners who do not have such IDs.

    I don’t believe in an over-reaching government passing more laws, but in certain cases, protecting people needs to be uniform. Owning a service animal myself, it would be beyond frustrating to come to a state for a funeral “requiring” these IDs, only to be denied entering my booked room for my dog who would alert me of my conditions.

  • Patrick Reese

    And again an unenforceable State law appears that ignores a key factor… under the Federal law this law claims to address, the owner of a service animal is not required to carry any documentation an animal is a service animal and this law ignores the fact the State may only grant additional privileges beyond those granted under the ADA and may not impose further regulations to restrict those privileges.

    Also out of State visitors, in a state that depends on tourist dollars, are protected from this law as many States still have no registration for service animals (which is why it is prohibited under federal law to require it) and there also no federal training standards for service animals making compliance impossible for many out of state visitors (again, this is why this act violates the ADA)

    Also… recognized service animals are not limited to dogs.

    But as the Federal law details…
    “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions:
    (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability,
    (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

    Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation,
    require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog,
    or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

    Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.

    A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.

    Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.

    People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.

    If a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by himself or his service animal.

    Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.” **

    ** This ADA info is found by following a link found at the bottom of the story to the MDCR release which has links for Federal ADA page and info following it.

  • Patrick Reese

    This will just further confuses the issue… now stupid business owners will think that this moronic registration is required creating situations wear businesses open themselves to being sued for violating the real Federal law.

    If I were a business owner I’d ignore this entire craptacular stupid State ‘assistance’ and just follow the Federal guidelines found on the ADA website… This type of regestration will result in both confused cops, who don’t have to know the law and can take enforcement actions based on what they think the law says, and business owners who think that because they’ve seen State registrations that people are required to have them…

    This registration is in no way a ‘face lift’ and has the potential to do more to increase violations of the ADA than reduce them.

  • Robin Coon

    While this law is NOT enforecable which is why registration is voluntary; as a handler of a service dog who was constantly denied access because my dog is not a ‘paws’ dog which btw is not required. I am training my own service dog due to my income; i cannot afford 10K to have a dog from a ‘program’ nor do I want a dog that was raised with another person/family to be my lifeline. I was excited about this registration and voluntarily registered and have my id and badge for my dog who is still in training; and have STILL been denied access by companies; because the staff said she does not have a ‘paws’ vest. This is extremely inhibiting my ability to properly train her in public settings. I work hard to obtain the necessary standards for her in public and although my disability is not ‘visible’ such as a person in a wheelchair; I NEED my SD. I cannot believe that I was denied access and accused of having a fake service dog with the proper ID and patch. I am now just distressed and avoid leaving my home once again out of fear I will be denied access or laughed at in public. It is also unhelpful that my uneducated neighbors inhibit her training consistently by intentionally distracting her, calling out to her, petting her without asking; leaving food all oever the sidewalk and curb when I cannot avoid these in order to take my dog out to use the restroom. Any suggestions? I thought this would make it better for us both!

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