WDW Service for the Dogs

A growing area for concern amongst WDW regulars is the perception of abuse of disability assistance programs. Disney has recently revamped their assistance programs, ostensibly in part to deter abuse like that reported by mainstream news outlets. See this article in the Atlantic for more about the original reports.

Now, service dogs are at issue. Regulars report seeing what they believe to be pets, rather than genuine service animals, having free rein in the parks. However, people note that it is difficult if not impossible to determine at a glance whether a service dog is ‘legit’ and it’s clear that enforcement of animal policies is difficult in such an environment. To that end, the Florida House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill making it a misdemeanor to misrepresent an animal as a service animal, and also makes it a misdemeanor to harass a disabled person about their need for the animal.

The introductory summary of the bill is below:

“An act relating to service animals; amending s.413.08, F.S.; providing and revising definitions; requiring a public accommodation to permit use of a service animal by an individual with a disability under certain circumstances; providing conditions for a public accommodation to exclude or remove a service animal; revising penalties for certain persons or entities who interfere with use of a service animal in specified circumstances; providing a penalty for knowing and willful misrepresentation with respect to use or training of a service animal; providing an effective date.” (Full text)

The goal most everyone is trying to accomplish seems clear: accommodate those with genuine need and prevent those without need who would abuse such accommodations from doing so.