AN ACT TO CREATE THE OFFENSE OF ASSAULTING AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL AND TO ALLOW A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL.
Amends GS 14-163.1, which sets out the penalties for killing, assaulting, harming, or taunting, teasing, harassing, delaying, or obstructing law enforcement agency animals, assistance animals, or search and rescue animals by extending the scope of those provisions to include emotional support animals (defined as an animal that provides emotional support, well-being, comfort, or compassion for a person, but is not trained to assist a person with a disability). Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.
Makes conforming changes to GS 168-1.
Amends GS 168-4.2 to allow a person with a disability to be accompanied by an emotional support animal in places listed in GS 168-3 (common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, streetcars, boats, or any other public conveyances or modes of transportation; hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusements or resorts to which the general public is invited), and have the right to keep the animal on any premises the person leases, rents, or uses. Requires registering the animal with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) before being accompanied by or keeping an emotional support animal. Requires showing the specified tag in order to be qualified to keep or be accompanied by the animal. Provides that a person is qualified to keep or be accompanied by an emotional support animal upon showing an official copy of the registration from DHHS.
Amends GS 168-4.3 to require DHHS to adopt rules for registering emotional support animals and requires issuing the person at least three official copies of the registration. Requires that registration is renewed annually. Prohibits charging a registration or renewal fee but allows a $10 charge for each replacement registration when the original is lost.
Amends GS 168-4.4 to provide that a person with a disability accompanied by an emotional support animal is not required to pay extra compensation for the animal. The person has all the responsibilities and liabilities placed on any person when that person owns or uses any animal.
The above provisions in Part II are effective December 1, 2019.
Amends GS 168-4.5 to make it a Class 3 misdemeanor to (1) disguise an animal as an emotional support animal or (2) deprive a person with a disability of any rights or privileges granted under the specified statutes or granted to the general public with respect to being accompanied by an animal or to charge any fee for the use of the emotional support animal. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.
Appropriates $200,000 in recurring funds, beginning in 2019-20, from the General Fund to DHHS, to hire additional employees and cover other costs incurred in implementing new GS 168-4.3.
Effective July 1, 2019, unless otherwise indicated.