(WXYZ) — A new bill in the Michigan House of Representatives looks to crack down on emotional support animals in the state.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Matt Hall, would regulate how emotional support animals are prescribed in the state while also giving tougher penalties to those who falsify them for the needs.
It would create the Misrepresentation of Emotional Support Animals Act, and clarify the eligibility process for the animals and install protections against property owners, renters, and people who need the animals.
“There is no clarity within the rules regarding qualifications for an emotional support animal, and because of that, the process is much like the Wild West,” Hall said in a release. “This has led to much abuse within the process from those who are only looking to have an emotional support animal for personal gain. It couldn’t be more important we clarify the process and install protections to ensure those who actually have a legitimate need for an emotional support animal are receiving them.”
Under the bill, someone who wants to get an emotional support animals would need valid documentation from a health care provider to prove their prescription in credible. That provider would also certify that he or she treated the person with a disability for at least six months, and if requested, give a notarized letter or completed questionnaire certifying an emotional support animal is necessary.
According to Hall, there has been an increase in people falsifying the need for an emotional support animal.
“Every day, people are going online and getting fake certificates from unknown health care providers to obtain an emotional support animal,” Hall added in the release. “This common-sense legislation requires authentic patient-health care provider relationships, as well as valid diagnoses, to ensure emotional support animals are only going to those who have a legitimate need for a service animal. Only health care providers that have held licenses to practice in Michigan for the past several months would be allowed to issue prescriptions for emotional support animals.”
The bill would also make it a misdemeanor to falsify the need for an emotional support animal, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine or community service.
It also gives protections to landlords, saying that if someone leasing or renting falsely represents an animal is an emotional support animal, the landlord can terminate the lease.