New state law opens doors for service dogs - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

New state law opens doors for service dogs

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VAN, TX (KLTV) -

On Friday, Governor Rick Perry signed a bill that will allow people with disabilities to keep their service animals with them when they enter businesses. This will include both retail stores and restaurants. However, this raises some concern for the health code violations of businesses. 

Ruby is the service dog for four-year-old Faith Wilson, who has had type one diabetes since she was 9 months old. 

Ruby can detect high blood sugar or low blood sugar before it happens so her mother can give her insulin or sugar before she is in danger.

Faith's mother, Sarah Wilson, is hoping the new law will make it easier for them to enter public businesses.

"When I walk into a store with Ruby, people say, 'Oh you can't bring a dog in here. Why do you have a dog? What's wrong you? You're not blind'", Wilson said. 

Ginger Wood, the assistant director of the environmental department at North East Texas Health in Tyler, Texas explains the health hazards animals carry with them when entering businesses.

"The food business has been a little bit tricky when having animals around because of the extra dust and germs and filth that can be tacked on their skin and it could pose contaminating hazards and risks to the food products if they're exposed", said Wood. 

Wilson argues that sanitation is not an issue with these service dogs. 

"Legitimate service dog teams are very well maintained and kept clean", said Wilson.

It's important for business owners to know that they can only ask two questions about these canines and their handlers. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, they can ask if the service animal is required for a disability and what work or task the dog has been trained to perform. 

Access for people with service dogs to public businesses is right already covered by federal law, but Wilson hopes the signing of this bill will inform others on the issue. 

"Ruby is a life saver for my child and service dogs are life savers for their handlers", said Wilson.

It's important to note that this bill is strictly for canines. The bill goes into effect on September 1.  

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