A service animal is 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.
The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to:
assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks
alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
providing non-violent protection or rescue work
pulling a wheelchair
assisting an individual during a seizure
alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities
helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship are not considered work or tasks for purposes of the definition of a service animal.
To determine if an animal is a service animal, a public entity or a private business may ask two questions:
Is this animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?
These questions may not be asked if the need for the service animal is obvious (e.g., the dog is guiding an individual who is blind or is pulling a person's wheelchair). A public entity or private business may not ask about the nature or extent of an individual's disability or require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal, or require the animal to wear an identifying vest.
Links for more information about service animals and the ADA:
Check out this video of our intern, Jessica, talking about service dog etiquette:
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