It’s not every day that a hearing room at the state capitol is filled with dogs and their owners, but today owners brought their service animals to the Senate to comment on Senate bill 1166.
The purposed bill would change the state requirements for service animals.
The animals assist people with disabilities. They can be trained for people who have autism, hearing impairment, and can even detect seizures.
Tim Mullen credits his life to his dog, who has saved him multiple times. “I wouldn’t be here,” Mullen said. “He’s saved me 4 times in the last two years that I had him.”
Senator Barbara McGuire (D-8), who assisted in writing the bill, said it’s the small luxuries these dogs help make possible.
“Dining out, going to theaters, doing some of the things you and I do we take for granted,” said McGuire. “They have to have this animal with the because its a life saving need and they have a disability.”
Mullen was told his only options were to either move into an assisted living home or get a service dog to deal with his frequent seizures. “I can have a life again, I don’t have to sit in my house,” Mullen said since getting his service dog. “I can go fishing I can go up in the mountains again, its pretty incredible.”
This bill would make it a class two misdemeanor for anyone who violates the rights of individuals using a service animal.
Service animal trainer Brian Daugherty says he supports what’s trying to be accomplished but doesn’t support the current bill.
“A lot of the aspects are undefined and could present a problem to users out in public and denial of access and criminal charges because of it,” Daugherty said.
Those at the hearing said people who are registering their pets that aren’t actually used as a service animal are causing problems for those who really need them, making them harder to bring service animals into businesses.
“They’re here to serve a purpose, and to work, and to save lives,” Daugherty said
After hearing from the public, Senator McGuire says amendments will be made to the bill.