Colorado Springs

Is a boa constrictor a service animal?

WATCH Is a boa constrictor a service...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Imagine walking into a grocery store to find a person inside with a boa constrictor. 

That's what a KRDO NewsChannel 13 viewer said happened to her Tuesday night. 


The person with the snake claimed it was their service animal. 

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center said more and more people are trying to pass average pets off as service animals, or are giving their emotional support animals more access than they are allowed. 

But those with legitimate service animals, aren't exactly happy to hear that. 

Serina Gilbert has a vision impairment. She has had her yellow lab service dog, Weston for five years. During that time she's found she has more trouble taking him in public. 

"Since the increase of emotional support animals or "service animals" I'm asked a lot more even when he has his harness on," Gilbert said. 


Gilbert said once, a host at a restaurant in Keystone, Colorado was questioning her and Weston's legitimacy so much that she and her friends ended up leaving the restaurant. 

Emotional support animals provide comfort or support. 

"I might be able to have a boa constrictor in my apartment complex as a reasonable accommodation but I can't bring him to the grocery store," ADA Center Project Manager, Maggie Sims said. 

Sims said the ADA doesn't recognize emotional support animals, but service animals are. 

Service animals can be dogs, or in special cases, miniature horses that have been trained to perform a very specific task. 

With the increase of people trying to pass off their animals as "service animals," it means dogs who aren't properly trained can be a public nuisance as well. 

"He's (Weston's) trained to behave very well. He's not going to bark at somebody, he's not going to be aggressive, he's not going to make a mess in somebody's restaurant. But an animal that is not trained might do those things and be aggressive when they are not supposed to be," Gilbert said. 


Which is why Gilbert hopes people will start respecting dedicated service animals. 

"I just ask that people respect the role of a service animal," Gilbert said. "The person that has them really does have a legit disability need that's being met." 

A new Colorado state law took affect this year that will now make those who try to pass off a non-qualified animal as a service animal pay a fine. 

 

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