Service Animals

Service Animals

The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the ADA on Sept.15,2010. These revisions state that beginning on March 15, 2011 only dogs are recognized as service animals under Titles II and III of the ADA. There is also a special provision for miniature horses that have been trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Key points:

A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as a service animal.

Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices.  In any case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

When it is not obvious what service the animal provides, staff may ask two questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

Staff may not ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card for training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

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. To view the complete document from the Office for Civil Rights, Department of Justice, click here.