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New rules regarding service animals begin in 2019

Washington state legislators passed new regulations regarding service animals. Beginning in 2019, service animals are restricted to dogs and small horses. Emotional support and comfort animals are excluded from the definition of service animals.

The intention of the legislation is to "penalize the intentional misrepresentation of a service animal, which delegitimizes the genuine need for the use of service animals and makes it harder for persons with disabilities to gain unquestioned acceptance for their legitimate, properly trained, and essential service animals.”

Service animal" means any dog or miniature horse, as discussed in RCW 49.60.214, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing nonviolent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks. This subsection does not apply to RCW 49.60.222 through 49.60.227 with respect to housing accommodations or real estate transactions.

More information can be found on http://mrsc.org/Home/Stay-Informed/MRSC-Insight/December-2018/New-Laws-Change-Rules-for-Service-Animals.aspx

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