LANSING (AP) – A new Michigan law will update service animal rules and give veterans and others with disabilities the option to register for a state ID along with a patch to be affixed to their animal’s vest, easing their entry into businesses and other public accommodations.
State civil rights officials and lawmakers promoted the law, which takes effect Monday, at a Wednesday news conference in Lansing. The ID card and patch are voluntary, and federal law protects the use of trained service animals.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Impacting Health & Well-Being Across Metro Region
“But with registration comes the peace of mind of knowing that when you enter a public accommodation, the state of Michigan is by your side,” said Agustin Arbulu, director of the state Department of Civil Rights.
The law aligns Michigan with newer federal rules, provides a free ID and patch, requires the state to receive reports from people who encounter problems using a service animal or who suspect others of falsely saying they have a service animal and allows violations to be referred to law enforcement.
“It better informs and equips our Michigan officials and communities to ensure that both the spirit and the letter of the (Americans with Disabilities Act) is followed,” Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said.READ MORE: Detroit Police Department To Host Drive-Up Candy Stations On Oct. 31 At All Precincts
Supporters said there have been instances of people, including veterans, wrongly being turned away due to confusion. The law is intended to make it easier for establishments to determine who is legally entitled to an accommodation.
The legislation was initiated to help veterans with “invisible” wounds from war like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury but was expanded to consider others with disabilities, too, said one of the sponsors, Sen. David Knezek. The Dearborn Heights Democrat fought with the Marines in Iraq.
“So many veterans … find comfort, they find solace through the use of a service animal,” he said.
Officials said there is little to no data on how often people with service animals are denied entry into restaurants, hospitals and other places. They said the law will help them get a better handle on how many service animals are in Michigan and educate business owners and the disabled about the rules.MORE NEWS: Metro Detroit Woman Files Lawsuit Against Walmart, Says Discriminated Against By Managers
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.