The Oklahoma House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee recently amended and passed Senate Bill 1223. While the bill still includes language establishing a misdemeanor for misrepresenting a service animal the amended bill now also includes several unrelated changes to criminal law including amendments that reduce charges for existing crimes from felony punishments to misdemeanors.
AKC supports section 801 subsection E, which contains the original language included in SB 1223 regarding the misrepresentation of a service animal. However, AKC is not taking a position on the newly amended changes to the bill.
Oklahoma dog owners are encouraged to contact their State Representative in support of the portion of SB 1223 that creates a misdemeanor for misrepresenting a service animal.
If you would like to submit additional comments on other changes to the bill: you can find your state legislator here.
Oklahoma Senate Bill 1223 as approved by the Oklahoma Senate would make it a misdemeanor for anyone without a disability or anyone that is not trained to assist those with a disability to misrepresent an animal as a service dog to gain special treatment or benefits. AKC and condemns the deliberate mischaracterization of service dogs and attempts to benefit from service dog status when the person is not someone with a disability.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports the training and use of service dogs. Each day, these dogs provide essential services to benefit and assist people with a variety of challenges. Those who misrepresent an animal as a service animal can hinder these important services, as some public places can only accommodate a certain number of animals. Further, legitimate service and assistance animals are specially trained and places that accommodate these animals expect that when allowing these animals to enter.
AKC Government Relations continue to closely monitor all bills impacting Oklahoma dog owners. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.