“They lack training.” Tennessee measure might prohibit emotional support animals from eateries

“They lack proper training:” Proposed Tennessee bill may prevent emotional support animals from entering restaurants

A new bill in Tennessee aims to address the issue of emotional support animals entering restaurants without proper training. The bill, if passed, would prohibit individuals from bringing their emotional support animals into eateries unless the animals have undergone specific training.

The motivation behind the bill is to ensure that emotional support animals are well-behaved and properly trained. Supporters argue that untrained animals can pose a risk to other patrons and restaurant staff. They believe that having trained animals would help avoid any potential incidents or disruptions caused by uncontrolled animals.

Critics of the bill, however, argue that emotional support animals play a crucial role in providing comfort and support to individuals with mental health conditions. They believe that denying access to restaurants would be discriminatory and could have negative impacts on those who rely on these animals for their well-being.

One of the main challenges in implementing this bill would be determining the specific criteria for training emotional support animals. Supporters of the bill suggest that certain standards and certifications should be established to ensure that animals are adequately trained before being allowed into restaurants.

This proposed legislation in Tennessee has sparked a larger conversation about the role of emotional support animals and their place in public spaces. As discussions continue, it remains to be seen how the state will navigate this complex issue and strike a balance between ensuring public safety and accommodating individuals with emotional support animals.

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Mary-Beth Mangrum is the author of this article.

A loyal dog patiently waits outside a restaurant. (Image: Josef Timar via Getty Images)

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, something remarkable is happening.

A proposed legislation in Tennessee may prevent emotional support animals from entering restaurants.

The primary objective of this bill is to create a more defined differentiation between service animals and emotional support animals.

A photo of a service dog.

According to this legislation, restaurants would only permit specific types of service animals, excluding emotional support animals.

Senator Page Walley and Representative Kirk Haston have sponsored a bill with the objective of eliminating live animals from food service establishments, unless they satisfy specific criteria.

Patrol dogs that accompany law enforcement officers and trained service animals are excluded from the bill.

“This bill does not restrict trained service animals remaining in a restaurant. It does restrict animals that are not service animals from entering a restaurant,” Rep. Haston says.

Emotional support animals that are not trained or in the process of being trained do not meet the criteria.

Friends with a dog sitting inside a restaurant. (Image source: Ika84 via Getty Images)

On Friday, we had a conversation with Rory O’Connell, a Clarksville dog trainer affiliated with Jay’s friends, who specializes in training service animals.

“Dogs will not be able to become service dogs if they cannot train in an environment that’s very similar to the real thing,” O’Connell says.

O’Connell also clarified the distinction between service animal training and emotional support animal training, emphasizing the importance of both types of training.

“Support animals are there for the comfort of their owner. They’re not trained to do anything. They may act up in public. You know, there’s no training to prevent that,” O’Connell says.

A service animal, as stated in the bill, is described as “an animal that is personally trained or undergoing training by an employee or puppy raiser from a recognized training agency or school to assist an individual with a disability.”

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According to the ADA’s website, they adhere to a similar definition of the information provided.

Image via Dawn Thompson.

The provided image is credited to Dawn Thompson.

Dawn Thompson, a resident of Iowa, is visually impaired and relies on her service dog Millie for assistance. Together, they frequently embark on trips to Pigeon Forge.

“It was a ritual for me to miss a step or run into a door, and now I don’t even have to worry about that because I have Millie,” Thompson says.

According to Thompson, untrained dogs not only cause distractions but also pose a threat to Millie’s work and safety.

Image via Dawn Thompson.

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“Because if my dog, who is trained, gets bit well, then there goes my independence,” Thompson says.

The Senate successfully passed this bill during the current week, and it is now awaiting approval from the House.

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