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Passing off a pet as a service animal could result in a fine

In this April 1, 2017 file photo, a service dog strolls through the isle inside a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport while taking part in a training exercise, in Newark, N.J. Starting Jan. 1, only animals that fit the federal definition of service animal are covered by the Washington Law Against Discrimination. (Julio Cortez / AP)
In this April 1, 2017 file photo, a service dog strolls through the isle inside a United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport while taking part in a training exercise, in Newark, N.J. Starting Jan. 1, only animals that fit the federal definition of service animal are covered by the Washington Law Against Discrimination. (Julio Cortez / AP)

OLYMPIA – Trying to pass off Fido as a service animal when he isn’t trained and certified could get you a $500 ticket next year. And don’t even try to claim your cat, boa constrictor or peacock is a service animal so you can bring it into a store or restaurant with a “No Pets” sign.

Starting Jan. 1, only animals that fit the federal definition of service animal – dogs and certain miniature horses specifically trained to help a disabled person with certain tasks – are covered by the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which requires public places make accommodations for people with disabilities.

Businesses can refuse to admit people with pets or “comfort animals” for safety or health concerns. A person who claims an untrained animal is a service animal can be cited with a civil infraction that carries a penalty of up to $500.

The new law will help with the public’s acceptance of real service animals needed by the disabled and avoid problems with animals that aren’t, Gov. Jay Inslee said in signing the bill Thursday.


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