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story.lead_photo.caption Thomas Jefferson's statue graces the south side of the Missouri Capitol. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Lying about a service animal would be a misdemeanor in Missouri under legislation that was partly inspired by stories of emotional support snakes and a peacock.

The Columbia Missourian reports that Republican Sen. Denny Hoskins, of Warrensburg, says his proposed bill would protect landlords who prohibit pets from tenants who falsely claim their pets are service or emotional support animals. He also says illegitimate service animals could be disruptive to other tenants.

Support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act. But Hoskins said "it's getting out of control" during a meeting of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday. Opponents, however, raised concerns that the bill could bring legitimate use of animals into question.

Hoskins says 22 states have passed similar laws.

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