An Assembly panel has approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle that guarantees full and equal access to all housing for disabled individuals who retain their retired service or guide dog as a pet, even if they obtain a new service or guide dog.
Vainieri Huttle noted that service and guide dogs often retire eventually due to age, infirmity, or other reasons. This change in status can be an obstacle for a disabled person who wants to keep their retired dog as a pet, yet still needs to obtain a new service dog, if their housing situation prohibits or limits animals.
"Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that they become much more than that over their lifetime. They become family. This is all the more true when it's a pet that someone depends on for vital support," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This is a compassionate and practical change to help ease the lives of those dependent on service dogs."
Under her bill (A-4096), the state's "Law Against Discrimination" would guarantee full and equal access to all housing to disabled persons who retain their retired service or guide dog as a pet, and who also obtain a new service or guide dog to replace the retired dog.
Additionally, the bill would also prohibit the payment of extra compensation for the retired pet.
The bill was approved Thursday by the Assembly Human Services Committee, chaired by Vainieri Huttle, and now awaits final legislative approval from the full Assembly. It would take effect immediately upon enactment.