NJ Legislation Would Make Sure Service Dogs Aren’t Denied From Public Spaces
Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt is backing legislation she says is needed to underscore acceptance of service dogs in public places. She says sometimes these animals are denied access because the person they serve has a disability that's not readily apparent.
It's called "Charlie's Law," named after a 16-year-old Cherry Hill boy whose dog Charlie has been denied access to public places in the past.
Ben Shore is on the autism spectrum. Shore has encountered this problem at an airport, where "Charlie" was ordered to leave before a police officer pointed out to workers that the dog had service animal credentials.
Subsequently, Shore has been lobbying with the mayor of Cherry Hill to create a local ordinance to give service dogs of those without readily-apparent disabilities the public-place access they are entitled to.
Lampitt says "the individual that has the disability may not look as though they have a disability, but they do."
The Camden Democrat's bill is similar to laws in 39 other states that "bump up" denial of service animals with criminal penalties.
"There are people who jump to their own conclusions that the dog is just there to be with them."
Lampitt says there are many purposes for service dogs that are covered by the American Disabilities Act.
"People are targeting them, thinking that they just have a dog with them in a public place," she said.
Lampitt's bill has passed the Assembly Human Services Committee. She says she hopes to get legislative leadership in Trenton behind the measure.