“Finally, maybe the ESA Wild West days are coming to an end.” – Chaz Stevens, ESAD Intl. Co-Founder & CEO
On January 1, 2022, the State of California took a long overdue crackdown on fraudulent emotional support animals.
Sponsored by Guide Dogs for the Blind and Canine Companions for Independence, California’s AB-468 legislation targets fraudulently registered dangerous dogs, counterfeit registrations, and dishonest mental health and medical providers.
Analyzing California’s AB-468.
Service animal training typically runs northward of $25,000, while taking a year or two to complete. Conversely, a quick search of the web reveals myriad fraudulent $25 certificates and the outright misrepresentation of “registering” emotional support dogs as service dogs.
Highlights from AB-468 include:
1) Service animals are individually trained to perform a task on queue or work directly related to an individual’s disability, whereas emotional support animals require no training and merely provide a sense of wellbeing, fulfillment, companionship, or lessened anxiety for their handler.
2) With few legal rights under Federal and California law, ESAs are not allowed to accompany their handler in public places.
3) The fraudulent misrepresentation of an animal as a guide, signal, or service dog is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months, by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
4) Well-defined and improved standards combating the blatant false advertising.
Key Points And Penalties Under New CA ESA Law
Creaking down on ESA fraud, AB-468 has three main components:
1) A person or business that sells or provides a dog for use as an emotional support dog must provide written notice – in at least 12-point bold type, on the receipt or a separate paper – to the buyer or recipient of the dog stating that (1) the dog does NOT have the special training required to qualify as a guide, signal, or service dog; (2) the dog is NOT entitled to the rights and privileges accorded by law to a guide, signal, or service dog; and (3) knowingly and fraudulently representing oneself to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a guide, signal, or service dog is a misdemeanor.
2) A person or business that sells or provides a certificate, identification, tag, vest, leash, or harness for an emotional support animal will also be required to provide the same written notice to the buyer or recipient.
3) Violation of these written notice requirements or knowingly and fraudulently representing, selling, or offering for sale, or attempting to represent, sell, or offer for sale, an emotional support dog as being entitled to the rights and privileges accorded by law to a guide, signal, or service dog, is subject to a civil penalty of $500 for the first violation, $1,000 for the second, and $2,500 for third and subsequent violations.
4) Also, under the new CA law, health care practitioners are prohibited from providing documentation relating to an individual’s need for an emotional support dog unless the health care practitioner (1) holds a valid, active, license to provide professional services within the scope of the license in the jurisdiction where the documentation is provided; (2) establishes a client-provider relationship with the individual for at least 30 days prior to providing the documentation, (3) completes a clinical evaluation of the individual regarding the need for an emotional support dog, and (4) provides notice to the individual that knowingly and fraudulently representing oneself to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a guide, signal, or service dog is a misdemeanor. Violating these requirements subjects the health care practitioner to discipline from the licensing board.
CEO Chaz Stevens Speaks Out
“Googling emotional support animals reveals countless pages of questionable business and therapeutic practices offering products that outrightly deceive consumers, individuals with disabilities, and landlords,” said Chaz Stevens, co-founder of ESAD Intl. “California did the right thing here, wish this was done five years ago. Count us in for any reasonable future legislation that follows suit.”
Since 2015, Stevens’ Boca Raton, FL-based ESAD Intl. has been connecting clients with local licensed clinicians who provide animal-assisted therapy and emotional support animal recommendations.
“The next step? Really cramp down of clinical ethics and standards. Get some serious skin in the game, weed out the provider riff-raff. This must be about strictly helping only those truly in need.”
ESAD Intl. strongly suggests that clients do not seek counseling or assessment for the sole purpose of obtaining an ESA dog letter for housing.
Company Name: ESAD Int’l (ESADoggy)
Contact Person: Chaz Stevens
Email: Send Email
Address:980 N. Federal Highway, Ste. 110
City: Boca Raton
State: FL 33432
Country: United States