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Are There Laws Against Falsely Claiming Your Pet Is A Service Animal?

The growing number of service animal use has led to alleged abuse by those who want their pets to accompany them wherever they travel. Some states have addressed this problem by enacting service animal statutes which specifically forbid false claims. While many states have laws forbidding one from falsely claiming their pet is a service animal, the District of Columbia and Maryland have yet to enact such a statute. Virginia, on the other hand, has made fraudulently representing a dog as a service animal a Class 4 misdemeanor (VA Code § 51.5-44.1). Interestingly, Virginia singles out dogs in this statute and not service animals in general. Recent incidents, such as the emotional support peacock being denied travel by United Airlines, begs the question of whether states like Virginia will broaden their fraudulent service animal statutes in order to further crack down on falsely representing pets as service animals, and whether the District of Columbia or Maryland will enact such legislation. 



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