Bucco Bill to Guarantee Equal Access Housing for Disabled Persons and Their Service Animals Advances
Legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) to prevent disabled persons from being separated from their retired service animal was advanced by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“We cannot in good conscience allow an individual who has spent much of their life coping with significant hardships and adversity to face the heartbreak of bidding farewell to a faithful guide dog who has become family,” Senator Bucco added. “By amending this law, people with disabilities can continue to love and care for their loyal service dog as a pet, without the fear of losing their home or being unable to find adequate housing.”
Senator Bucco’s bill, S-1359, would guarantee full and equal access housing to all disabled persons who choose to keep their service or guide dog as a pet after the animal has retired.
S-1359 amends the Law Against Discrimination to ensure that any disabled person wishing to remain with their retired service animal could do so even if a rental or lease agreement prohibits pets on the premises.
Once a service or guide dog retires from its work in service to a disabled person, it is considered a pet. This “change in status” creates a significant obstacle for a disabled person who wants to remain with their beloved service animal, but is unable to because he or she lives in housing that does not allow for pets other than service animals. In this case, the retired service animal is returned to the agency and adopted out to a new family, causing immense stress for the animal and owner.
“This discriminatory practice is stressful not only for the dog, who would lose its longtime home and companion, but also for the disabled person who has grown to love and care for the animal,” Senator Bucco said. “By passing this bill, we are upholding our commitment to protect and empower our state’s most vulnerable residents.”
The bill now awaits action in the Assembly. If signed into law, the act would take effect immediately. S-1359 is just one of the Senate Republican caucus solutions to create equal opportunities for all New Jerseyans.