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The Americans with Disabilities Act, as of 2020, has granted Service Dog Teams more access and opportunities to train at a substantially lower cost to the person in need. 

Are there restrictions on where Service Dogs are and are not allowed?

Service Dog (SD) teams are able to go into most places without restriction of access. There are a few places where a SD might not be welcome. For Example:

  • The kitchen of a restaurant (Health Code Ordinances are one of the few items that will overrule ADA Laws)

  • A sterile operating room

  • "At a zoo, service animals can be restricted from areas where the animals on display are the natural prey or natural predators of dogs, where the presence of a dog would be disruptive, causing the displayed animals to behave aggressively or become agitated."

  • A Boarding School with dorm areas set aside specifically for students with pet allergies - this means there are dorm areas where service animals are allowed.

  • If the presence of a service animal fundamentally alters how a business is conducted

  • A Service Dog that is out of control:

    • Barking for no apparent reason​

    • Defecating on the floor

    • Lunging at other people or another Service Dog team

Are there breed restrictions on Service Animals?

No. Any dog that has the correct temperament and disposition can be trained to be a Service Dog. The same goes for miniature horses, the only other recognized service animal by the ADA. Local breed restrictions do not apply to Service Dogs. 

Do Service Dogs need to be "registered" or "certified"?

In the United States, no. The ADA does not recognize any registries or certifications as proof of a service animal.

My team has been asked for "papers". Isn't that illegal?

Yes and No.  If the requestor is asking for registry or certification proof of being a service dog that is against the law. Local municipalities can require that the dog be registered (have city issued tags) and minimal vaccination requirements. As a matter of everyday health, your Service Dog should be current on all vaccinations and have been issued a Rabies Tag that is attached to your Service Animal's collar. We recommend that you keep a digital copy of your Service Animals Vaccinations along with having your Service Dog microchipped in case of separation from you during an emergency.

If they can't ask for papers, what can they ask?

  1. Is that a Service Animal?

  2. What task is it trained for?

  3. That is it!

I feel like it is an invasion of my privacy when they ask what task(s) my Service Animal is trained for. What is the best way to answer that?

Trust us, we know how humiliating it is to have to answer that question, so we give generic responses such as:

  • Medical Alert

  • Medical Response

  • Guide Dog

  • Mobility Assistance

We avoid the following terms as they create the temptation for the person to ask more question or insist that you have an emotional support animal:

  • Psychiatric Dog

  • PTSD Dog

I have been denied access with my Service Animal, what should I do?

  1. Remember that you do represent all Service Animal Teams when out in public

  2. Remember to remain calm and do not make any threats

  3. Be polite in your education of ADA Public Access Laws

  4. Take a moment, before going out, to have a business size cards that has the ADA website along with the two questions they can ask (yes, you can find them on Amazon and Ebay - pay close attention to insure the card does NOT state the dog is "registered" or "certified").

  5. Members of Service and Working Dog Handlers Guild have access to a card specific to the working dogs that have been trained by our program.

  6. If you are still denied access, do NOT argue with them. Ask the person for corporate contact information and contact them to request the employees of that store be retrained in Service Dog Access Laws.

  7. If the corporate, or business owner does not respond, or responds in a negative manner, complete this form found on the ADA Website

I live in a state other than Texas, where can I find laws for where I live?

Michigan State University’s Animal Legal and Historical Center has the most comprehensive listing of state regulations in regards to service animals that they regularly update. That information can be found here.

Can a state or city make laws that are more restrictive than ADA Laws?

Short answer is no. States and cities can only create laws that are more permissive than then ADA. A common local ordinance in regards to service dogs is to grant a service dog in training the same access rights as a fully trained service dog. 

Sources:

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