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Proposed bill could clamp down on 'fake service animals' in Georgia

The measure has passed a Senate committee.

ATLANTA — There's a move afoot at the state capitol to clamp down on what a piece of legislation calls "fake service dogs." It's become a problem – especially for people who rely on service dogs to help live their lives.

While it's not exactly a bill that proposes any solutions, the measure, which has passed a Senate committee, does acknowledge a problem and seeks to appoint a committee to possibly find a solution.

Dawn Alford is a lobbyist with the Georgia Council on Development Disabilities. She uses a motorized wheelchair to get around with the help of her service dog, Kab. While she's at the state capitol, Kab helps her navigate through doorways and around people in the crowded building.

"I’m very grateful for the laws in this country that protect that right," Alford told 11Alive's Doug Richards. But she said she's seen people try to abuse that right in order to get their pets into places that otherwise wouldn't allow them.

A new Senate resolution asks "whether there is a need to criminalize the use of a 'fake service animals'" and calls for a Senate study committee to perhaps answer that question. "And I really genuinely don't know what the answer is," Alford said.

While she's not sold that the laws need to be changed, she said the issue is real.

"I am concerned. I do want to make sure that people who [– are not –] do not have a legitimate need for a service dog to not put [the rights] – my rights – in jeopardy," Alford concluded.