Florida Service Dog Laws

No Comments

Definitions

“Service animal” means an animal that is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work done or tasks performed must be directly related to the individual’s disability and may include, but are not limited to, guiding an individual who is visually impaired or blind, alerting an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, assisting with mobility or balance, alerting and protecting an individual who is having a seizure, retrieving objects, alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to an individual with a mobility disability, helping an individual with a psychiatric or neurological disability by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors, reminding an individual with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming an individual with posttraumatic stress disorder during an anxiety attack, or doing other specific work or performing other special tasks.

Specifically states: “A service animal is not a pet.”

Service animal is also limited to a dog or a miniature horse.

West’s F. S. A. § 413.08

Accommodation Law

An individual with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas of a public accommodation that the public or customers are normally permitted to occupy.

  • The service animal must be under the control of its handler and must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability
  • no documentation is required
  • a public accommodation  may ask if an animal is a service animal required because of a disability and what work or tasks the animal has been trained to perform.
  • can remove or exclude service animal if the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it, the animal is not housebroken, or the animal poses direct threat to the helath and safety of others (“allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to an individual with a service animal”)

Denial or interference with these rights is misdemeanor of second degree and must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months.

Any trainer of a service animal, while engaged in the training of such an animal, has the same rights and privileges with respect to access to public facilities and the same liability for damage.

West’s F. S. A. § 413.08

Harassment of/Interference with Service Dogs

Reckless interference with service dog:

A person who, with reckless disregard, interferes with, or permits a dog that he or she owns or is in the immediate control of to interfere with, the use of a service animal by obstructing, intimidating, or otherwise jeopardizing the safety of the service animal or its user commits amisdemeanor of the second degree for the first offense and a misdemeanor of the first degree for each subsequent offense.

Reckless injuring or killing of service dog:

A person who, with reckless disregard, injures or kills, or permits a dog that he or she owns or is in the immediate control of to injure or kill, a service animal commits amisdemeanor of the first degree.

Intentionally killing service dog:

A person whointentionally injures or kills, or permits a dog that he or she owns or is in the immediate control of to injure or kill, a service animal commits a felony of the third degree.

A person who is convicted must make full restitution for all damages

West’s F. S. A. § 413.081

Driving Law

If mobility-impaired pedestrian is using a guide dog or service animal to cross a public street, driver must bring vehicle to a full stop and take precautions to avoid injuring pedestrian.

West’s F. S. A. § 316.1303

Fraudulent Representation

A person who knowingly and willfully misrepresents herself or himself, through conduct or verbal or written notice, as using a service animal and being qualified to use a service animal or as a trainer of a service animal commits a misdemeanor of the second degree and must perform 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than 6 months.

West’s F. S. A. § 413.08