What Laws Exist Regarding Where Service Dogs Are Allowed?


Quick Answer

Under Title II and Title III of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs are allowed in government offices, nonprofit organizations and businesses that serve the public, according to the ADA. Service animals are allowed in areas of those locations that are typically open to the public.

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Full Answer

As of 2015, only dogs are legally recognized as service animals, notes the ADA. A service animal is defined as a dog trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities. Examples include calming a person with post-traumatic stress disorder, alerting those who are deaf, guiding blind people and pulling wheelchairs. States are required to adhere to the federal definition of a service animal, although local laws may define service animals more broadly.

Unless a control device interferes with the work of a service dog, a harness or leash is required in public at all times, instructs the ADA. If a dog is not under the physical control of the individual, then signal, voice or other controls are permissible as long as they are effective.

The ADA prohibits exclusion or harassment directed at individuals with service animals. A business may not ask a person to remove his service animal from the establishment unless the dog is not under the handler's control or the dog is not housebroken. Even if a business sells or prepares food, service animals are allowed in the same areas as the general public. A business may not sequester or separate an individual with a service dog, and persons with service dogs are exempt from having to pay deposits charged to pet owners.

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