Laws & Regulations
ADA Requirements: Service Animals U.S. Department of Justice fact sheet on regulations regarding Service Animals
Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA updated July 2015
"Trained Service Dogs Only" poster/flier for businesses, with examples of acceptable Service Dog behavior
Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals: Where are they allowed and under what conditions? by the ADA National Network
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Assistance Animals and the Fair Housing Act by the Arizona Center for Disability Law
Right to Emotional Support Animals in "No Pet" Housing by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Best Friends for Life: Humane Housing for Animals and People by the Doris Day Animal League and the Massachusetts SPCA. Clear explanations of housing laws for pets, Emotional Support Animals, and Service Animals.
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a coalition of not for profit assistance dog organizations. The purpose of ADI is to improve the areas of training, placement, and utilization of assistance dogs, staff and volunteer education, as well as educating the public about assistance dogs, and advocating for the legal rights of people with disabilities partnered with assistance dogs.
Dog owners are responsible and legally liable for any damage or injury the dog causes to people, other animals, or property. Any of the following actions can result in the dog being legally declared Vicious, Destructive, or Dangerous: Baring teeth; growling, attempting to bite, biting; approaching in a threatening manner; damaging or destroying property. The dog's status as a service animal does not absolve the owner from responsibility.
Assistance Dogs International guidelines on the public appropriateness, behavior and training expected of a dog working in public places:
- Dog is clean, well-groomed and does not have an offensive odor.
- Dog does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.
- Dog does not solicit attention, visit or annoy any member of the general public.
- Dog does not disrupt the normal course of business.
- Dog does not vocalize unnecessarily, i.e. barking, growling or whining.
- Dog shows no aggression towards people or other animals.
- Dog does not solicit or steal food or other items from the general public.
- Dog is specifically trained to perform tasks to mitigate aspects of the client’s disability.
- 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, etc.
- Dog urinates and defecates only in appropriate place, and owner arranges for clean-up.
- Dog stays within 24″ of its handler at all times unless the nature of a trained task requires it to be working at a greater distance.
Reasonable accommodation does not require allowing dogs to ride in shopping carts, sit on chairs in restaurants, or eat off the table, plates, or silverware in restaurants.
The dog’s handler should always be observant of the dog’s behavior.
The dog’s handler should respect people who do not want to be near the dog
Businesses may not ask for identification or proof of whether a dog is a service dog, but they may legally ask:
1. Is the dog required because of a disability? and,
2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
For more information or questions, please visit: www.ada.gov, or call 800-514-0301 (voice), or 800-514-0383 (TTY). The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, revised 2010 defines disability and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA allows for “reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures” to provide equal opportunity to people with disabilities. The use of service animals as a reasonable modification is defined and regulated by the U.S. Department of Justice. State laws may be more lenient in granting rights to people with disabilities, but they cannot be more restrictive than federal law.