In addition to federal laws there are state laws that protect service dogs and sometimes service dogs in training depending on where you live. I’ll be discussing Kansas laws, as that’s where I live, but there will be a link for all state laws at the bottom of this article.
K.S.A 39-1109: “Any professional trainer, from a recognized training center, of an assistance dog, while engaged in the training of such dog, shall have the right to be accompanied by such dog in or upon any of the places listed in K.S.A. 39- 1101, and amendments thereto, without being required to pay an extra charge for such dog. Such trainer shall be liable for any damage done to the premises of facilities by such dog.“
Unfortunately, based on my interpretation of how this is written, Kansas does not grant service dogs in training public access rights if they are being owner trained. This definitely makes training more challenging and it makes for a harder transition from in training to full service dog.
When working with my own dog or a client’s dog I’ve found two things helpful when trying to work on public access training.
First, there are several places that are pet friendly but do a good job providing an environment that feels like a non-pet friendly store. Academy Sports, Orscheln Farm and Home, and Sutherlands are all good options. Make sure to double check if individual locations are pet friendly. For example, not all Joann Fabric stores are pet friendly, neither are all Home Depots.
Second, if a store isn’t pet friendly, sometimes I’ll talk with a store manager to see if it’s ok to bring a service dog in training into the store to practice public access work. I’ve had good luck doing this especially at stores that are sometimes pet friendly like Home Depot.
K.S.A 21-6416: “(a) Inflicting harm, disability or death to a police dog, arson dog, assistance dog, game warden dog or search and rescue dog is knowingly, and without lawful cause or justification poisoning, inflicting great bodily harm, permanent disability or death, upon a police dog, arson dog, assistance dog, game warden dog or search and rescue dog.
(b) Inflicting harm, disability or death to a police dog, arson dog, assistance dog, game warden dog or search and rescue dog is a nonperson felony. Upon conviction of this subsection, a person shall be sentenced to not less than 30 days or more than one year’s imprisonment and be fined not less than $500 nor more than $5,000. The person convicted shall not be eligible for release on probation, suspension or reduction of sentence or parole until the person has served the minimum mandatory sentence as provided herein. During the mandatory 30 days imprisonment, such offender shall have a psychological evaluation prepared for the court to assist the court in determining conditions of probation. Such conditions shall include, but not be limited to, the completion of an anger management program.”
To simplify this means that if someone harms your service dog, they have committed a nonperson felony. If convicted they shall be sentenced to no less than 30 days and no more than one year of imprisonment and be fined no less than $500 and no more than $5,000.
A legal battle is costly and draining. It’s best to avoid conflict whenever possible. I do not recommend confronting people or escalating situations because “the law is on your side”. It’s just not worth it. In the event of an attack make sure to contact authorities immediately. Try to get information from anyone who saw the incident happen and if you are inside an establishment try to find out if they might have security footage that the police can review.
K.S.A 39-1112: It is a class A nonperson misdemeanor for any person to
(a) Represent that such person has the right to be accompanied by an assistance dog in or upon any place listed in K.S.A. 39-1101, and amendments thereto, or that such person has a right to be accompanied by a professional therapy dog in or upon any place listed in K.S.A. 39-1110, and amendments thereto, unless such person has the right to be accompanied in or upon such place by such dog pursuant to this act; or
(b) represent that such person has a disability for the purpose of acquiring an assistance dog unless such person has such disability.
This means that misrepresenting your dog as a service dog, if in fact they are not one, is a nonperson misdemeanor. While I do not advocate trying to spot “fake” service dogs, it is important to understand that if you are not disabled, and your dog is not trained to mitigate that disability, they are not a service dog and misrepresenting them as one is a crime.
It’s also important to remember that ESAs and therapy dogs do not have public access rights. If you have questions about what the differences between ESAs, therapy dogs, and service dogs are check out this article for some clarification.