Guidelines established by the ADA:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for title II (State and local government services) and title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities) on September 15, 2010, in the Federal Register. These requirements, or rules, clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 20 years and contain new, and updated, requirements, including the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards).
This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s new regulations.
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.
Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.
Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.) Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.
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Duplication of this document is encouraged. July 2011
last updated: July 12, 2011
There are many and I mean many thoughts on the subject of service animals from what breed, who is training them and even if they should be licensed with state depending on your state and local laws. It can be an overwhelming process when you are trying to make a decision on a service animal while managing a health issues.
In the state of NC where we reside it is strictly voluntary to have your animal registered with Department of Health and Human Resources. In your state these rules may be different so please check with the department in your area.
Beware of the of websites that offer certificates,tags and other printed materials certifying your animal as a service dog for a fee! This unforunately is only a scam to get money from you.
We were fortunate enough to be connected with a wonderful trainer in our area that trained our animal with our daughter so there was a great working relationship and bond between them immediately. As our daughters health issues change and she requires more assistance from her service animal we can go back and work with her trainer to teach them new techniques! Our service animal happens to be a greyhound that came from our local rescue. Some do not agree with the use of rescues for service but in our case and a few others in our area it has been a wonderful connection.
Some tips when starting the process:
Do your research and understand the breed you will be paired with as your service partner. You will be together all the time so it is helpful to know the breed well.
Talk to your doctor regarding your needs. In our case, the physician suggested a service animal.
You will need a Doctors letter or Prescription to start the process indicating your health issues.
Visit trainers if possible and talk to them about their philosophy on training techniques, breeds,requirements etc...
Be prepared for the cost required to obtain your helper and the cost to meet the needs.
Your service animal is not a PET but still requires your love and attention.