Service Dog Laws
Dogs have been regarded as “man’s/woman’s best friend” long before there was ‘BFF’. As our best friend, we have provided food and shelter to them and they have served us well in return. But, it literally took an act of Congress to allow disabled citizens to have the right to bring their dogs into public areas to assist them. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provided numerous legal rights for disabled citizens and their canine companions.
Even the Service Dog of the Year gets turned away. fox59
It is vital that business owners and service dog owners/trainers know and abide by these important points about service dogs:
- A service animal may be a dog or other animal, for example, small horses have recently been used to pull wheelchairs.
- A service dog is NOT a pet.
- Service dog requirement: Be individually trained to assist its owner with a specific disability.
- A service dog is NOT required to wear a vest or tag designating it as a service dog.
- A service dog owner/trainer is NOT required to carry documentation designating the dog as a service dog.
- A business owner may only ask the service dog owner 2 questions about the dog:
1. Is the dog required due to a disability?
2. What work/task has the dog been trained to do?
- A service dog may accompany the disabled individual into any place the public has access.
- A business may NOT segregate the disabled individual and service dog from other customers.
- A business’ “no pets” policy does not apply to service dogs because it is not a pet.
- A hotel, apartment, etc. may not charge a “pet fee” for the service dog.
- The service dog owner/trainer must keep the service dog under control (no barking, aggressive behavior, etc.) or be subject to removal from the premises.
Note: An emotional support animal (ESA) is not the same as a service dog. In short, an ESA has not received individualized training to assist its owner for a specific disability. While an ESA may provide comfort to a person, the ADA has not given the ESA the same rights as a service dog. A major distinct in the rights is that ESA are very restricted regarding their access to public places such as restaurants, shopping venues, etc.
Emotional Support Animals 10/30/15
Dogs are commonly used to assist individuals with a disability as well as those who derive comfort and emotional support from their companionship. The law classifies them into two categories, Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals, with different rules for each. Here’s an overview of the rules that apply:
- Service dogs and Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are NOT pets
- Service dogs: Have been individually trained to assist their owner with a specific disability.
- ESA Have NOT been individually trained to assist its owner with a specific disability.
- ESA may be a dog, cat or other animal which gives comfort and emotional support to their owner.
- Service dogs and ESA are NOT required to wear a vest or tag designating it as a service dog or an ESA.
- Service dogs are allowed access to areas open to the public, e.g. restaurants, malls, movie theatres, etc.
- ESA are NOT allowed access to areas open to the public.
- Housing: Service dogs and ESA are allowed in housing/lodging facilities that otherwise exclude pets.
- ESA owners must provide a physician’s statement of ESA necessity to use housing/lodging facilities.
- Airlines: Service dogs and ESA are allowed to travel in the passenger compartment of an aircraft that would otherwise exclude pets.
- ESA owners only must provide a physician’s statement of ESA necessity to travel in the passenger compartment of an aircraft that would otherwise exclude pets.
The laws on service dogs and emotional support animals are complex and often difficult to apply in a real world setting. For further information or questions, please contact me at staff@TennDogBiteLaw.com.
Watch this space for a continuation of this article on the legal rights and responsibilities of owners of emotion support animals as compared with service dogs. cnycentral
The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Contacting an attorney does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific legal advice for a case or potential case, you should retain an attorney directly rather than relying on this article.