The following statutes comprise the state’s relevant assistance animal and guide dog laws.
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A new definition was added to Maine’s Human Rights Act for “assistance animal:”
1-H. Assistance animal. “Assistance animal” means, for the purposes of subchapter 4:
A. An animal that has been determined necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability by a physician, psychologist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or licensed social worker; or
B. An animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical or mental disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds, providing reasonable protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or retrieving dropped items.
5 M. R. S. A. § 4553
As a result, 5 M. R. S. A. § 4582-A, the law prohibiting unlawful housing discrimination on the basis of disability was amended to change the term “service animal” to “assistance animal.”
However, in the law on unlawful public accommodations, the following sentence was added in subsection 8 on “service animals:”
This subsection does not apply to an assistance animal as defined in section 4553, subsection 1–H unless the assistance animal also qualifies as a service animal.
5 M. R. S. A. § 4592
The state also amended its law on misrepresentation of a service animal to include provisions for misrepresenting an assistance animal. Previously, the 2011 version referred to misrepresentation of a service dog:
A person who fits a dog with a harness, collar, vest or sign of the type commonly used by blind persons in order to represent that the dog is a service dog or commonly used by persons with disabilities to represent that the dog is a service dog when training of the type that guide dogs normally receive has not been provided or when the dog does not meet the definition of “service dog” as defined in section 1312, subsection 7 commits a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $500 may be adjudged.
The law effective in 2016 applies to both service animals and assistance animals.
Misrepresentation as a service animal or an assistance animal can include the following:
1. False documents. Knowingly creating documents that falsely represent that an animal is a service animal or an assistance animal;
2. Providing false documents. Knowingly providing to another person documents falsely stating that an animal is a service animal or an assistance animal;
3. Harness, collar, vest or sign. Knowingly fitting an animal, when the animal is not a service animal, with a harness, collar, vest or sign of the type commonly used by a person with a disability to indicate an animal is a service animal; or
4. Falsely representing animal as service animal. Knowingly representing that an animal is a service animal, when the animal has not completed training to perform disability-related tasks or do disability-related work for a person with a disability.
A civil violation under this law can lead to a fine of up to $1000.
17 M. R. S. A. § 1314-A
The law making it a civil violation for a person’s dog to attack, injure, or kill a service animal was expanded to include assistance animals in 2016.
7 M.R.S.A. § 3961-A