By: Lisa Richards
What is a Service Animal?
“Service animal means any dog 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purpose of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability. Examples of work or tasks performed include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purpose of this definition.” (Service animal as defined by the ADA, Title III, subpart A 36.104 definitions, July 2010)
All service dogs are granted access by federal and state laws.
Service Dog Categories
Service dog which assists an individual who has a mobility impairment with tasks including, but not limited to, providing balance and stability, retrieving items and pulling wheelchairs.
Dog Guide which assists an individual who is blind or visually impaired with tasks such as, but not limited to, aiding in navigation and alerting the individual to dangers such as moving cars.
Hearing Dog which assists an individual who is deaf or hearing impaired by alerting the individual to the presence of sounds or people.
Alert/Response Dog which alerts an individual to a seizure or other medical condition.
Psychiatric Service Dog which aids an individual with a cognitive, psychiatric or neurological disability.
Service Animal Behavior (standards as set forth by ADI)
Under the ADA, a service dog may be removed from a public place for disruptive behavior.
A service dog must be under the control of the handler at all times.
A service dog must be on a leash at all times (some allowances are made under certain circumstances).
A service dog must not show aggression towards people or other animals.
A service dog does not bark, growl or whine. (However, a service dog may be trained to bark in the case of an emergency affecting the handler.)
A service dog does not solicit attention, food or other items from the general public, nor annoy any member of the general public.
A service dog’s work does not disrupt the normal course of business.
Service Dog Etiquette
DO NOT pet, talk to, make eye contact or distract the dog in any way.
DO allow the dog to work without distraction.
DO NOT speak to the dog when greeting a service dog team, speak only to the handler.
DO ask for permission to pet the dog. Under certain circumstances, the handler may permit it.
DO NOT be insulted if your request to pet the dog is denied.
DO realize that allowing the dog to greet you may distract the dog from its work.
Because these are friendly dogs, they enjoy attention; however, such distraction may interrupt the dog’s work and could cause injury to the dog’s handler. Keep this in mind when tempted to pet or speak to a service dog.
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.
Staff is not required to provide care or food for a service animal.
The dog is clean, well groomed, does not have an offensive odor and does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.
A service dog is not required to wear something identifying it as such. However, most service dogs wear a vest/cape or harness identifying it as a service dog or dog guide. Service dogs may be of any size. Certification cards are not required. A vest or other identifying clothing is not required.
Where Service Animals are Allowed
Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.
Service Dog Training
ADI (Assistant Dog International) requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:
The dog is specifically trained to perform 3 or more tasks to mitigate aspects of the client’s disability.
Dog demonstrates basic obedience skills by responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting, staying in place, lying down, walking in a controlled position near the handler and coming to the handler when called.
Dog works calmly and quietly on harness, leash or other tether.
Dog is able to perform its tasks in public.
Dog must be able to lie quietly beside the handler without blocking aisles, doorways when possible.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) revised in July 2010
Federal Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. The act requires air carriers to permit service animals to accompany persons with disabilities on flights (14 CFR 382.55 (a))
Fair Housing Act of 1988 (FHA)
- The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Resource website, www.ada.gov
- www.dot.gov, Guidance Concerning Service Animals in Air Transportation
- Delta Society (n.d.) Service animals basics. https://www.deltasociety.org.Page.aspx?pid=303
- Department of Justice (n.d). Title III regulations. http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleIII_201/titleIII_2010_withbold.htm
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2002). Reasonable accommodation and undue hardship under the ADA. http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accomoodation.html
- International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) http://www.iaadp.org/IAADP – Public Access Test http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/standards/public-access-test/