Frequent Questions concerning service Dogs answered by the DOJ
Q:Does the ADA require service animals to be professionally trained?
A: No. People with disabilities have the right to train the dog themselves and are not required
to use a professional service dog training program.
Q: What is a service animal?
A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.
Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:
_ Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
_ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
_ Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.
A service animal is not a pet.
Q: Can people bring more than one service animal into a public place?
A: Generally, yes. Some people with disabilities may use more than one service animal to perform different tasks. For example, a person who has a visual disability and a seizure disorder may use one service animal to assist with way-finding and another that is trained as a seizure alert dog. Other people may need two service animals for the same task, such as a person who needs two dogs to assist him or her with stability when walking. Staff may ask the two permissible questions (See Question 7) about each of the dogs. If both dogs can be accommodated, both should be allowed in. In some circumstances, however, it may not be possible to accommodate more than one service animal. For example, in a crowded small restaurant, only one dog may be able to fit under the table. The only other place for the second dog would be in the aisle, which would block the space between tables. In this case, staff may request that one of the dogs be left outside.
Q: Does a hospital have to allow an in-patient with a disability to keep a service animal in his or her room?
A: Generally, yes. Service animals must be allowed in patient rooms and anywhere else in the hospital the public and patients are allowed to go. They cannot be excluded on the grounds that staff can provide the same services.
Q: My city requires all dogs to be registered and licensed. Does this apply to my service animal?
A: Yes. Service animals are subject to local dog licensing and registration requirements.
Q: My city requires me to register my dog as a service animal. Is this legal under the ADA?
A: No. Mandatory registration of service animals is not permissible under the ADA. However,
as stated above, service animals are subject to the same licensing and vaccination
rules that are applied to all dogs.
Q: Can service animals be any breed of dog?
A: Yes. The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals.
Q: Can individuals with disabilities be refused access to a facility based solely on the breed of their service animal?
A: No. A service animal may not be excluded based on assumptions or stereotypes about the animal’s breed or how the animal might behave. However, if a particular service animal behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, has a history of such behavior, or is not under the control of the handler, that animal may be excluded. If an animal is excluded for such reasons, staff must still offer their goods or services to the
person without the animal present.
Q: What are the laws that apply to my business?
A: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.
Q: My city requires all dogs to be vaccinated. Does this apply to my service animal?
A: Yes. Individuals who have service animals are not exempt from local animal control or public health requirements.
Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?
A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.
Q: What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my business?
A: The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.
Q: I have always had a clearly posted “no pets” policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow service animals in?
A: Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your “no pets” policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your “no pets” policy altogether but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.
Q: My county health department has told me that only a seeing eye or guide dog has to be admitted. If I follow those regulations, am I violating the ADA?
A: Yes, if you refuse to admit any other type of service animal on the basis of local health department regulations or other state or local laws. The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and so it takes priority over the local or state laws or regulations.
Q: Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals into my business?
A: No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities if a service animal causes damage so long as it is the regular practice of the entity to charge non-disabled customers for the same types of damages. For example, a hotel can charge a guest with a disability for the cost of repairing or cleaning furniture damaged by a service animal if it is the hotel’s policy to charge when non-disabled guests cause such damage.
Q: If a municipality has an ordinance that bans certain dog breeds, does the ban apply to service animals?
A: No. Municipalities that prohibit specific breeds of dogs must make an exception for a service animal of a prohibited breed, unless the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. Under the “direct threat” provisions of the ADA, local jurisdictions need to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal’s actual behavior or history, but they may not exclude a service animal because of fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave. It is important to note that breed restrictions differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In fact, some jurisdictions have no breed restrictions.
Q: I operate a private taxicab and I don’t want animals in my taxi; they smell, shed hair and sometimes have “accidents.” Am I violating the ADA if I refuse to pick up someone with a service animal?
A: Yes. Taxicab companies may not refuse to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their service animals than they charge to other persons for the same or equivalent service.
Q: Am I responsible for the animal while the person with a disability is in my business?
A: No. The care or supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. You are not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.
Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?
A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions,however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually. Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.
Q: Can I exclude an animal that doesn’t really seem dangerous but is disruptive to my business?
A: There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate a service animal–that is, when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities. But when it does, for example, when a dog barks during a movie, the animal can be excluded.
Q: What happens if a person thinks a covered entity’s staff has discriminated against him or her?
A: Individuals who believe that they have been illegally denied access or service because they use service animals may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. Individuals also have the right to file a private lawsuit in Federal court charging the entity with discrimination under the ADA.
Q: Are stores required to allow service animals to be placed in a shopping cart?
A: Generally, the dog must stay on the floor, or the person must carry the dog. For example, if a person with diabetes has a glucose alert dog, he may carry the dog in a chest pack so it can be close to his face to allow the dog to smell his breath to alert him of a change in glucose levels.
Q: Do commercial airlines have to comply with the ADA?
A: No. The Air Carrier Access Act is the Federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in air travel. For information or to file a complaint, contact the U.S. Department of Transportation, Aviation Consumer Protection Division, at 202-366-2220.
Q: Do apartments, mobile home parks, and other residential properties have to comply with the ADA?
A: The ADA applies to housing programs administered by state and local governments, such as public housing authorities, and by places of public accommodation, such as public and private universities. In addition, the Fair Housing Act applies to virtually all types of housing, both public and privately-owned, including housing covered by the ADA. Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers are obligated to permit, as a reasonable accommodation, the use of animals that work, provide assistance, or perform tasks that benefit persons with a disabilities, or provide emotional support to alleviate a symptom or effect of a disability. For information about these Fair Housing Act requirements see HUD’s Notice on Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-funded Programs.
If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, please call the U.S. Department of Justice’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SPECIFICALLY regarding service dog's
OFFICE OF FAIR HOUSING AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
SPECIAL ATTENTION OF: HUD Regional and Field Office Directors of Public and Indian Housing (PIH); Housing; Community Planning and Development (CPD), Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity; and Regional Counsel; CPD, P11-1 and Housing Program Providers
FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 Issued: April 25, 2013 Expires: Effective until Amended, Superseded, or Rescinded
Subject: Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs
1. Purpose: This notice explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHAct), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities. The Department of Justice’s (DOT) amendments to its regulations’ for Titles II and III of the ADA limit the definition of “service animal” under the ADA to include only dogs, and further define “service animal” to exclude emotional support animals. This definition, however, does not limit housing providers’ obligations to make reasonable accommodations for assistance animals under the FHAct or Section 504. Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, under both the FHAct and Section 504. In situations where the ADA and the FHAct/Section 504 apply simultaneously (e.g., a public housing agency, sales or leasing offices, or housing associated with a university or other place of education), housing providers must meet their obligations under both the reasonable accommodation standard of the FHAct/Section 504 and the service animal provisions of the ADA.
2. Applicability: This notice applies to all housing providers covered by the FHAct, Section 504, and/or the ADA2.
Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services, Final Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 56164 (Sept. 15, 2010) (codified at 28 C.F.R. part 35); Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities., Final Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 56236 (Sept. 15, 2010) (codified at 28 C.F.R. part 36). Title II of the ADA applies to public entities, including public entities that provide housing, e.g., public housing agencies and state and local government provided housing, including housing at state universities and other places of education. In the housing context. Title III of the ADA applies to public accommodations, such as rental offices, shelters, some types of multifamily housing, assisted living facilities and housing at places of public education. Section 504 covers housing providers that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Fair Housing Act covers virtually all types of housing, including privately owned housing and federally assisted housing, with a few limited exceptions.
3. Organization: Section 1 of this notice explains housing providers’ obligations under the FHAct and Section 504 to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities; with assistance animals. Section II explains DM’s revised definition of “service animal” under the ADA. Section III explains housing providers’ obligations when multiple nondiscrimination laws apply.
Section I: Reasonable Accommodations for Assistance Animals under the FHAct and Section 504
The FHAct and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) implementing regulations prohibit discrimination because of disability and apply regardless of the presence of Federal Financial assistance. Section 504 and HUD’s Section 504 regulations apply a similar prohibition on disability discrimination to all recipients of financial assistance from HUD. The reasonable accommodation provisions of both laws must be considered in situations where persons with disabilities use (or seek to use) assistance animals (4) in housing where the provider forbids residents from having pets or otherwise imposes restrictions or conditions relating to pets and other animals.
An assistance animal is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the FHAct nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified(5) While dogs are the most common type of assistance animal, other animals can also be assistance animals.
Housing providers are to evaluate a request for a reasonable accommodation to possess an assistance animal in a dwelling using the general principles applicable to all reasonable accommodation requests. After receiving such a request, the housing provider must consider the following:
(3)Reasonable accommodations under the FHAct and Section 504 apply to tenants and applicants with disabilities, family members with disabilities, and other persons with disabilities associated with tenants and applicants. 24 CFR §§ 100.202; 100.204; 24 C.F.R. §§ 8.11, 8.20, 8.21, 8.24, 8.33, and case law interpreting Section 504. 4 Assistance animals are sometimes referred to as “service animals,” “assistive animals,” “support animals,” or “therapy animals.” To avoid confusion with the revised ADA “service animal” definition discussed in Section II of this notice, or any other standard, we use the term “assistance animal” to ensure that housing providers have a clear understanding of their obligations under the FHAct and Section 504. 5 For a more detailed discussion on assistance animals and the issue of training, see the preamble to HUD’s final rule, Pet Ownership for the elderly and Persons With Disabilities, 73 Fed. Reg. 63834,63835 (October 27, 2008).
(I) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?
(2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person’s existing disability?
If the answer to question (1) or (2) is “no,” then the FHAct and Section 504 do not require a modification to a provider’s “no pets” policy, and the reasonable accommodation request may be denied.
Where the answers to questions (1) and (2) are “yes,” the FHAct and Section 504 require the housing provider to modify or provide an exception to a “no pets” rule or policy to permit a person with a disability to live with and use an assistance animal(s) in all areas of the premises where persons are normally allowed to go, unless doing so would impose an undue financial and administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing provider’s services. The request may also be denied if: (1) the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation, or (2) the specific assistance animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal_ A determination that an assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct — not on mere speculation or fear about the types of harm or damage an animal may cause and not on evidence about harm or damage that other animals have caused. Conditions and restrictions that housing providers apply to pets may not be applied to assistance animals. For example, while housing providers may require applicants or residents to pay a pet deposit, they may not require applicants and residents to pay a deposit for an assistance animal.°
A housing provider may not deny a reasonable accommodation request because he or she is uncertain whether or not the person seeking the accommodation has a disability or a disability related need for an assistance animal. Housing providers may ask individuals who have disabilities that are not readily apparent or known to the provider to submit reliable documentation of a disability and their disability-related need for an assistance animal. If the disability is readily apparent or known but the disability-related need for the assistance animal is not, the housing provider may ask the individual to provide documentation of the disabilityrelated need for an assistance animal. For example, the housing provider may ask persons who arc seeking a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal that provides emotional
A housing provider may require a tenant to cover the costs of repairs for damage the animal causes to the tenant’s dwelling unit or the common areas, reasonable wear and tear excepted, if it is the provider’s practice to assess tenants for any damage they cause to the premises. For more information on reasonable accommodations, see the Joint Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Justice, Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing Act, http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/lihrary/huddojstaternent.pdf.
support to provide documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability. Such documentation is sufficient if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal in question will provide some type of disability-related assistance or emotional support.
However, a housing provider may not ask a tenant or applicant to provide documentation showing the disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal if the disability or disability-related need is readily apparent or already known to the provider. For example, persons who are blind or have low vision may not be asked to provide documentation of their disability or their disability-related need for a guide dog. A housing provider also may not ask an applicant or tenant to provide access to medical records or medical providers or provide detailed or extensive information or documentation of a person’s physical or mental impairments. Like all reasonable accommodation requests, the determination of whether a person has a disability-related need for an assistance animal involves an individualized assessment. A request for a reasonable accommodation may not be unreasonably denied, or conditioned on payment of a fee or deposit or other terms and conditions applied to applicants or residents with pets, and a response may not be unreasonably delayed. Persons with disabilities who believe a request for a reasonable accommodation has been improperly denied may file a complaint with HUD.(7)
Section II: The ADA Definition of “Service Animal”
In addition to their reasonable accommodation obligations under the FHAct and Section 504, housing providers may also have separate obligations under the ADA. Dal’s revised ADA regulations define “service animal” narrowly as 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. The revised regulations specify that “the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”8 Thus, trained dogs are the only species of animal that may qualify as service animals under the ADA (there is a separate provision regarding trained miniature horses 9), and emotional support animals are expressly precluded from qualifying as service animals under the ADA.
The ADA definition of “service animal” applies to state and local government programs, services activities, and facilities and to public accommodations, such as leasing offices, social service center establishments, universities, and other places of education. Because the ADA requirements relating to service animals are different from the requirements relating to assistance animals under the FHAct and Section 504, an individual’s use of a service animal in an ADAcovered facility must not he handled as a request for a reasonable accommodation under the FHAct or Section 504. Rather, in ADA-covered facilities, an animal need only meet the definition of “service animal” to he allowed into a covered facility.
28 C.F.R. § 35.104; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
28 C.F.R. § 35.136(i); 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(0(9).
To determine if an animal is a service animal, a covered entity shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A covered entity may ask: (1) Is this a service animal that is required because of a disability? and (2) What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform? A covered entity shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. These are the only two inquiries that an ADA-covered facility may make even when an individual’s disability and the work or tasks performed by the service animal are not readily apparent (e.g., individual with a seizure disability using a seizure alert service animal, individual with a psychiatric disability using psychiatric service animal, individual with an autism-related disability using an autism service animal).
A covered entity may not make the two permissible inquiries set out above when it is readily apparent that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person’s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability). The animal may not be denied access to the ADA-covered facility unless: (1) the animal is out of control and its handler does not take effective action to control it; (2) the animal is not housebroken (i.e., trained so that, absent illness or accident, the animal controls its waste elimination); or (3) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level by a reasonable modification to other policies, practices and procedures.1° A determination that a service animal poses a direct threat must be based on an individualized assessment of the specific service animal’s actual conduct — not on fears, stereotypes, or generalizations. The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where members of the public are normally allowed to go.”
Section III. Applying Multiple Laws
Certain entities will be subject to both the service animal requirements of the ADA and the reasonable accommodation provisions of the FHAct and/or Section 504. These entities include, but are not limited to, public housing agencies and some places of public accommodation, such as rental offices, shelters, residential homes, some types of multifamily housing, assisted living facilities, and housing at places of education. Covered entities must ensure compliance with all relevant civil rights laws. As noted above, compliance with the FHAct and Section 504 does not ensure compliance with the ADA. Similarly, compliance with the ADA’s regulations does not ensure compliance with the FHAct or Section 504. The preambles to DOD’s 2010 Title II and Title III ADA regulations state that public entities or public accommodations that operate housing facilities “may not use the ADA definition [of “service animal” as a justification for reducing their FHAct obligations.”12
‘° 213C.F.R § 35.136: 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c).
I I For more information on ADA requirements relating to service animals, visit D0J’s website at www.ada.gov.
12 75 Fed. Reg. at 56166, 56240 (Sept. 15, 2010).
The revised ADA regulations also do not change the reasonable accommodation analysis under the FHAct or Section 504. The preambles to the 2010 ADA regulations specifically note that under the FHAct, “an individual with a disability may have the right to have an animal other than a dog in his or her home if the animal qualifies as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ that is necessary to afford the individual equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, assuming that the use of the animal does not pose a direct threat.”I3 In addition, the preambles state that emotional support animals that do not qualify as service animals under the ADA may “nevertheless qualify as permitted reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities under the FHAct.”” While the preambles expressly mention only the FHAct, the same analysis applies to Section 504.
In cases where all three statutes apply, to avoid possible ADA violations the housing provider should apply the ADA service animal test first. This is because the covered entity may ask only whether the animal is a service animal that is required because of a disability, and if so, what work or tasks the animal has been been trained to perform. If the animal meets the test for “service animal,” the animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where persons are normally allowed to go, unless (1) the animal is out of control and its handler does not take effective action to control it; (2) the animal is not housebroken (i.e., trained so that, absent illness or accident, the animal controls its waste elimination); or (3) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level by a reasonable modification to other policies, practices and procedures.°
If the animal does not meet the ADA service animal test, then the housing provider must evaluate the request in accordance with the guidance provided in Section I of this notice.
It is the housing provider’s responsibility to know the applicable laws and comply with each of them.
Section IV. Conclusion
The definition of “service animal” contained in ADA regulations does not limit housing providers’ obligations to grant reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals in housing under either the FHAct or Section 504. Under these laws, rules, policies, or practices must be modified to permit the use of an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing when its use may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and/or the common areas of a dwelling, or may be necessary to allow a qualified individual with a disability to participate in, or benefit from, any housing program or activity receiving financial assistance from HUD.
13 75 Fed. Reg. at 56194, 56268.
14 75 Fed. Rcg. at 56166, 56240.
15 28 C.F.R § 35.136; 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c).
Questions regarding this notice may be directed to the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Programs, telephone 202-619-8046.
John Trasvina, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
“in loving memory of Jennifer Bunnell”