JACK DURA Bismarck Tribune
North Dakota lawmakers have held back a state cosmetology rule for animals in salons after one representative raised concerns about cleanliness and potential abuse of a law banning impostor service animals.
The Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee last month reviewed rafts of new state agency rules, but halted the revised, 34-word “pets” rule brought by the state Board of Cosmetology from taking effect.
The revision would clarify only service or companion animals and aquarium fish are permitted in licensed salons, and that the former must be under control by the handler or owner at all times.
The current rule reads: “No animals, birds, or other pets, except assistance animals for the disabled and fish in aquariums, shall be permitted in any licensed salon.”
Rep. Bernie Satrom, R-Jamestown, expressed concerns about people misrepresenting their pets as service animals. He also wondered about salons’ cleanliness if they allow animals, such as dogs who lick and jump on people. He also mentioned hair and dander as “a minor component.”
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He said his concerns are based in testimony on the 2019 bill that became a law penalizing service animal fraud. He said service animals have been attacked by pet impostors.
Board of Cosmetology President Tenalee Tangen told the rules committee that the board’s attorney advised the panel that salon inspectors cannot ask an animal owner what their disability is, based on how the rule had been written.
“We were advised by legal counsel that we don’t want to push any further about ‘what is your disability,’ so the compromise that we felt was as long as that animal is under the care of that individual and under the handler of the individual, then we can’t particularly say you can’t have an animal with you,” Tangen told the committee.
The board office had received letters from doctors about people with disabilities eligible for service animals, she said.
“Is there a concern? Yes. There’s a major concern for me because as an inspector, I have dogs running up to me when I come into the salon, but now (under the proposed revision) I have the right to write them up because that dog came charging at me and it’s not under the control of the handler of the animal,” Tangen told lawmakers.
Satrom said he’s in favor of a solution such as signs noting “service animals only, no pets allowed.” He said he’s reached out to the Board of Cosmetology and also put them in touch with a service dogs group.
The Tribune contacted Tangen with questions regarding the rule, which she said the state board would discuss at a recent meeting. Board Administrator Sue Meier the next day said the panel “decided not to answer any questions or make a statement to the Bismarck Tribune” regarding the halted rule.
Sen. Nicole Poolman, R-Bismarck, who chairs the rules panel, said the committee will revisit the rule at a future meeting “if the Cosmetology Board wants to have a policy revision in relation to pets in salons.”
The panel next meets June 1.
Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.