Service animals – know your rights

service-dog

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability

This is the difference between a service animal and a therapy, emotional support or companion animal. A service animal must be individually trained to perform work or tasks directly related to the handler’s disability, while a therapy and emotional support animal merely provides comfort to an individual in some fashion.
Service animals are more than a pet. Most service animals are dogs, and can be of any size or breed (or mixture of breeds). Service animals are not legally required to wear special equipment or tags. Federal law prohibits requiring proof of disability or “certification” of the service dog’s training, or inquiring about the nature of the person’s disability. A person with a disability may not be charged admission for their service animal.

Service animals cannot be denied access to taxis, buses, trains, airports, airplanes, stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices and hospitals, schools, courthouses, polling places, government buildings, parks, zoos, housing and other places. Service animals and their access to all public places and commercial carriers is protected under Federal and State Law.

Under the ADA Title III regulations issued by the Dept. of Justice, there are only two questions that police, a business or other public accommodation may ask to determine if an animal qualifies as a service animal:

(1) Is the animal required because of a disability?
(2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

For questions regarding the ADA and service animals, please contact the United States Department of Justice at 1-800-514-0301