Service animal standards bill goes to Senate

Service Animal Sign

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – People looking for rental housing for themselves and their service animals would face some new rules under a bill approved today by the Kentucky House.

House Bill 329 sponsored Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, said the bill would allow a tenant with a disability or related need to make a “reasonable” request to keep an “assistance” animal—including a service animal—in his or her home. The landlord could seek more information to prove the need for the animal, according to the bill, “unless the person’s disability or disability-related need is readily apparent.”

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Koenig said the legislation will ensure those who need assistance animals the most are able to have them.

“While service and assistance animals are mostly utilized appropriately by tenants in need of such animals, many others take unfair advantage … sidestepping no-pet policies,” said Koenig.

Websites, for example, are readily available that allow individuals to print off certificates verifying a pet is an assistance animal when the pet is not trained as such, he said.

To guard against such behavior, HB 329 would create a fine of up to $1,000 for making false claims or otherwise misrepresenting themselves or an animal in order to get an assistance animal accommodation.

“This is about protecting those who are need of these animals and not subjecting them to unnecessary scrutiny,” said Koenig.

Rep. Dean Schamore, D-Hardinsburg, who has rental properties, said he favors clear standards in housing accommodations for those with assistance animals.

“Being in this business, I hate to see people take advantage of a service animal,” said Schamore. “I have no-pet policies in my properties and some people take advantage of this. It’s hurt people who really do need a service animal.”

HB 329 cleared the House by a vote of 87-0. It now goes to the Senate for its consideration.