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New bill would crack down on misuse of emotional support animal designations

Posted at 7:19 AM, Nov 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-15 07:19:05-05

FORT MYERS, Fla – A Florida lawmaker is backing a bill that would make it more difficult to get pets designated as emotional support animals. Rep. Sam Killebrew, (R) Winter Haven said he wants to see a doctor’s note requirement.

The bill advanced Thursday. Supporters of the bill feel people are abusing the current law and that it leads to several issues, including liability, and that it ruins things for people who really need emotional support animals.

Emotional support designations are easy to get, they cost about $50 dollars online. The most common reason people go through the trouble is to sneak pets into places they're not allowed like rental properties.

The state representative backing this bill made a bold gesture yesterday to illustrate how easy the process is. He went through the process to get a stuffed animal designated as an emotional support animal. The purpose was to highlight the issue fake designations create for people who really need it.

“An untrained animal creates a disturbance or creates some liability, then they think twice about letting someone in legitimately,” said John Capra, whose medical alert dog helps him with spacial control.

Emotional support animals also help many people struggling with things like PTSD.

Not all are on board with tightening up this law. Civil rights attorneys feel it would hurt people in need who can't afford a doctor's appointment, or people moving from out of state.

The bill received bipartisan support in a subcommittee. It will now need to move through two more committees before reaching the house floor.