Preventing the Abuse of Service Animal Regulations

27 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2017

See all articles by Sande Buhai

Sande Buhai

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Date Written: September 14, 2017


Federal and state rules governing service animals, ostensibly for the protection of people with disabilities, are confusing and uncoordinated. At least five different sets of federal laws or administrative rules apply to the use of service, emotional support, or assistance animals. State laws vary greatly and may be at odds with the federal laws. The net effect of this confusion is to create a legal climate in which abuse of the rules is easy, enforcement lax, and backlash inevitable. As a result, rather than protecting people with disabilities, the rules have created an environment where service animal fraud is rampant and the backlash has created more discrimination against people with disabilities.

This article reviews the relevant law and its problems. Part I outlines existing federal law; Part II, state law. Part III then explores the extent to which federal law may preempt inconsistent state rules. Part IV, finally, suggests possible solutions to the problem of service animal fraud and its detrimental impact on people with disabilities.

Suggested Citation

Buhai, Sande, Preventing the Abuse of Service Animal Regulations (September 14, 2017). New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2016, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-35, Available at SSRN:

Sande Buhai (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-1156 (Phone)
213-380-3769 (Fax)

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