A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Angela McKnight and Vince Mazzeo to guarantee 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, is now law.
“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 the new law (A-4096), the state’s “Law Against Discrimination” guarantees 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.
“Service and guide dogs often retire eventually due to age or infirmity,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “That does not mean they’re not still in need of care and companionship. The natural fit is for them to remain with the companion who has grown attached to them over the years.”
“When a service dog retires, this change in status can be an obstacle for a disabled resident who wants to keep their dog as a pet, yet still needs to obtain a new service dog, if their housing situation prohibits or limits animals,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This new law rectifies that.”
Additionally, the new law prohibits the payment of extra compensation for the retired pet.
The measure gained unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature before being signed into law by the governor on Monday.