HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new Hawaii law will fine people for knowingly misrepresenting a pet as a service animal, after passing without Gov. David Ige's signature.
Under Senate Bill 2461, a person can be fined anywhere from $100 to $500 for bringing an untrained animal into a private space under the pretense of a disability.
The problem of fake service dogs has been a growing problem in the islands, and the presence of untrained pets posing as service animals has resulted in legitimate service dogs being attacked by untrained animals, according to lawmakers.
"We have had a problem at County facilities where individuals have misrepresented animals as service animals," said Will Okabe, managing director of Hawaii county, in his April testimony.
"While (the bill) would not necessarily eliminate all abuses, it would be a positive way of reinforcing Hawaii's commitment to the Americans with Disabilities Act, while creating a deterrent to those who would irresponsibly seek to unfairly take advantage of ADA's provisions," Okabe said, in the statement.
A local service dog-training organization also lauded the law as a step in the right direction for the state.
"We and many others believe that just having a law prohibiting these fake service dogs will have a meaningful impact on many of those who are doing the abuse, or contemplating it," said Jim Kennedy, executive director of Hawaii Fi-Do Service Dogs, in his April testimony.
"If it is not illegal, any appeal to stop the behavior becomes nothing more than a passionate plea," Kennedy said.
The law goes into affect in January 2019.