Sara Austin Interviewed on Service Animals v Emotional Support Animals

Sara Austin was interviewed by ABC 27 News on the difference between Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals. Sara, who has represented people on both sides of the issue, explains the year-old Pennsylvania law Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act and how it impacts people’s rights.

Support animals and housing: People trying to ‘game the system’

In her interview, Sara explains how the new law broadens the types of animals that are covered but also punishes those who falsely claim their animal is necessary. “The Assistance and Service Animal Integrity Act makes it a criminal offense to misrepresent an animal as a service or emotional support animal for use in housing or provide false documentation. A person who commits fraud can face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine.”

Sara, who handles many cases related to planned communities or homeowner/condominium associations, notes that there are often animal restrictions in this type of housing community. The Federal Fair Housing Act provides the right for people with disabilities to have animals in certain types of apartments and homes, regardless of those restrictions. However, the animal must serve a legitimate purpose due to a disability. “Disability can only be an actual physical or mental impairment. It is not a record of having an impairment. It is not regarded as having an impairment.”  Sara explains that for those with disabilities that are not obvious, the association “can also request specific written information as to why the person needs that particular animal”

Contact Sara for Assistance

If you are being denied the right to keep your service animal or ESA in your home, or are a landlord/HOA/Association wondering about your obligations, Sara Austin can help. Reach out to Sara to learn more.

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