Thursday, January 8, 2015

Getting to Know... Service Animals

What is the legal definition of a service animal?

Therapy Animals are not legally defined by federal law but there is a legal definition for service animals in the Americans With Disabilities Act. Service animals are specifically trained to help the disability-related needs of their handlers and are not considered 'pets'.

Is using a service animal protected in public places?

Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals in public places.

Does a guide dog have to be certified by the State to be an “official” guide dog?

No. Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.

Can a business owner insist on proof of state certification before letting a service animal into the business?

No. ADA regulations only allow animals to be excluded from a facility if it is a direct threat to the health or safety of other people or will disrupt the regular operation of the business. Local laws may restrict pets from restaurants, housing, and theaters, but these rules do not apply to service dogs. However, handlers of service animals must obey local leash and vaccine laws and must have their dogs under control at all times.

Are therapy animals protected in the same way?

Therapy animals are considered pets and do not fall under the regulations provided by the ADA.

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