A recent change to Maine law seeks to clarify the law regarding service animals and combat a perceived increase in misrepresentation of pets as service animals. The new law, which took effect July 29, 2016, creates a distinction between “service animals” and “assistance animals,” and also increases penalties for misrepresentation of animals as service or assistance animals. The change implements the recommendations of a legislative task force created in 2015, amid rising concern regarding misrepresentation of pets as service animals, and surging complaints of discrimination based on the use of service animals. The number of discrimination complaints received by the Maine Human Rights Commission increased from 7 complaints in 2012 to 37 in 2015. Those 37 complaints were greater than the number of complaints received by the Commission based on sexual orientation, religion, or pay inequality based on gender that year. The new law, P.L. 2015, ch. 457, creates a distinction between “service animals” and “assistance animals.” Service animals are dogs individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities, directly related to their disability, such…Read More
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