Discrimination against service animals would be prohibited under a bill up for consideration in the Missouri House. JiaoJiao Shen has the story from Jefferson City.
Some people with disabilities need animals to help them in their daily activities.
But, many public places prohibit animals in their facilities.
Most people associate service animals with blindness and deafness.
However, those are only two of the many disabilities that require service animals.
Representative Meg Harding is sponsering a bill designed to prohibit discrimination against service animals and their owners.
Prohibiting entrance, or refusing to offer services to these people and their animals are two forms of discrimination.
Representative Harding says people who need service animals are getting discriminated against in many public places.
One reason for the discrimination against the animals and their owners has to do with who is responsible for the animal.
Donna Jacobs, who uses a service dog and testified at a public hearing on the bill, says when the disabled person and their animal enter the building, the owner is completely responsible.
The issue of responsibilities is something every owner, regardless of their disability, is familiar with.
Service animals help individuals suffering from one or more disabilities.
For example, Kirsten Richards, a victim of anxiety, says her dog is trained to handle various disabilities.
Richards says her dog helps her do exercises that pull her out of her panic attacks.
There are also other ways service animals help disabled people.
Representative Harding says service dogs can assist individuals with any disability that requires medication.
Dogs are not the only service animals available, however. Service cats are becoming more common.
Harding says the bill emphasizes service animals not just service dogs. The bill applies to all animals that can be trained to help people.
A House committee recently heard testimony from many people who use service animals.
It is now up to the committee to decide if discrimination against these animals and their owners should be prohibited under state law.
No one testified against the bill at the public hearing.