New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to help make sure people with disabilities are permitted to exercise their federal right to take a service dog into public places.
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said her bill calls for fines up to a thousand dollars for denying that access.
“The American Disabilities Act allows for service dogs to be with their owner in various locations, be it a restaurant, be it department store,” said Lampitt, D-Camden. “However, those within the general population don’t always understand where service dogs can reside.”
Cherry Hill resident Ben Shore, 16, urged lawmakers Friday to pass “Charlie’s law,” named for the service dog that helps him deal with panic attacks and other problems.
“If I wasn’t able to have Charlie, I would be very limited in what I could do every day, and just having Charlie has been a big difference to me,” he said. “Right now, it’s very hard to go certain places because most people will look at him and just say no.”
Ben has been prevented from taking the dog to school.
“Unfortunately, the only thing I can do at this point is wait months and months for any action to happen,” he said. “But if I can just have a single law enforcement officer say, ‘The law is the law, please do this,’ I know that they would cooperate and do the right thing.”
Money from the fines would be used for programs to raise public awareness about the rights of people with service dogs.