INDIANAPOLIS - WISH- Emotional support animals help a lot of people in need.
But, lawmakers believe some people are flat out lying, and abusing the system. One state Senator hopes to change that with a bill that's getting a lot of support at the Statehouse.
Sally Irvin, the Director of the Indiana Canine Assistance Network said
"Service dogs are very important. Therapy dogs are important. Emotional support dogs are important. It's just the way they provide that healing and that work."
As Founder and Director of the Indiana Canine Assistance Network or ICAN, they don't deal directly with emotional support animals, but she's heard tales of people claiming some...unusual...animals.
Irvin explained "The peacock, rattle snakes, pythons, tarantulas, turkeys, pigs...yeah."
State Senate President, David Long, a Republican from Fort Wayne, said "There's a peacock somebody tried to bring on a United Airlines flight last week, said it was an emotional support animal. It's getting absurd."
Which is why state Senators passed a bill this week, that tries to cut down on emotional support animal fraud. Republican State Senator Jean Leising's bill states a landlord could ask a perspective tenant for written proof from a health care provider, saying they need an emotional support animal. There'd be a violation if their disability isn't true.
Sen. David Long explained "We need some verification system to say this is legitimate, and part of their medical treatment for whatever ails them. So that's what that bill did."
Irvin said there really aren't regulations about emotional support animals.
We did a quick online search of 'emotional support animals. In the shopping tab, we found dozens of real looking things you can buy right now. Thirty bucks for a legit-looking emotional support animal ID, dog vests for $50 bucks. You can even buy emotional support animal certificates that claim to prove your animal is registered after you send your info somewhere.
Irvin explained "When you start talking about emotional support dogs, you start talking about dogs that have received no training. Not necessarily any obedience training and certainly no task training."
For her, the bill is barking up the right tree.
Irvin explained "Senator Leising's bill that's looking at creating some regulations for emotional support animals is terrific."
That bill now makes its way through the House. It already has two Representative co-sponsors.
To read the bill for yourself, click here
To read the vote sheet, click here