Proposed Florida bill cracks down on misuse of emotional support animal policies

Florida state lawmakers want stricter regulations on emotional support animals. To some, emotional support animals can seem like a whole dog and pony show. 

"We’ve seen people abuse this issue time and time again, people bringing their animals into places just because they like their animal," said State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont.

He's talking about people who buy certificates online, claiming their pets are emotional support animals when they're not.

"They are trying to get animals into housing that don’t allow animals or they don’t want to pay the pet deposit," said animal trainer Stephanie Roberts, who owns Procyon Training.

That's why Rep. Sabatini is co-sponsoring a bill cracking down on fake emotional support animals, protecting property owners by allowing them to require a doctor's note before a person can have an emotional support animal on their property.  Animal trainers say any bill that brings up emotional support animals is good but there is some question as to whether this bill would be effective.

"The legislation is good but until we really educate all the parties involved, we’re just going to keep passing the same laws," said Roberts.

Roberts says similar bills already exist federally and often times property owners are too nervous to ask for a doctor's note.

"I think sometimes business owners and landlords are just so afraid that they say no, they’re going to get sued."

Sabatini hopes this bill will offer protection and clarity.

"This will make it easier for them to understand the law. We need more uniformity in the law."

If the bill passes, it would go into effect July 1, 2020.