Service Dogs Part 2 – FAQs

My previous post on service dogs covered the basics but since this is such a fascinating and counterintuitive topic, I’ve provided a sequel. The FAQs I chose to share here include some of the more interesting exceptions and considerations for those who need to know more about service dogs. A link to the full list of FAQs on the American Disabilities Act webpage can be found at the end of this post.

Q13. Can people bring more than one service animal into a public place?
A. Yes. 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.

Q17. Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?
A. No. Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.

Special Note – There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.

Q18. My city requires all dogs to be vaccinated, registered, and licensed. Does this apply to my service animal?
A. Yes. Individuals who have service animals are not exempt from local animal control, public health, and local dog licensing and registration requirements.

Q20. 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.

Q21. My city (or college) offers a voluntary registry program for people with disabilities who use service animals and provides a special tag identifying the dogs as service animals. Is this legal under the ADA?
A. Yes. Colleges and local governments may offer voluntary registries. Communities maintain a voluntary registry that serves a public purpose, to ensure that emergency staff know to look for service animals during an emergency evacuation. Some offer a benefit, such as a reduced dog license fee, for individuals who register their service animals. An entity may not, however, require that a dog be registered as a service animal as a condition of being permitted in public places. This would be a violation of the ADA.

Q23. Can individuals with disabilities be refused access to a municipality (or 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.

Q26. When might a service dog’s presence fundamentally alter the nature of a service or program provided to the public?
A. For example, at a boarding school, service animals could be restricted from a specific area of a dormitory reserved specifically for students with allergies to dog dander. 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. They cannot be restricted from other areas of the zoo.

Q29. Are hotel guests allowed to leave their service animals in their hotel room when they leave the hotel?
A. No, the dog must be under the handler’s control at all times.

Q31. Are stores required to allow service animals 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.

Q33. Are gyms, fitness centers, hotels, or municipalities that have swimming pools required to allow a service animal in the pool with its handler?
A. No. The ADA does not override public health rules that prohibit dogs in swimming pools. However, service animals must be allowed on the pool deck and in other areas where the public is allowed to go.

Q34. Are churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship required to allow individuals to bring their service animals into the facility?
A. No. Religious institutions and organizations are specifically exempt from the ADA. However, there may be State laws that apply to religious organizations.

Q35. 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 disability, or provide emotional support to alleviate a symptom or effect of a disability.

Q37. 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 US Department of Transportation, Aviation Consumer Protection Division, at 202-366-2220.

Featured photo – Nitro wasn’t “officially” an emotional support dog, but I can’t say enough about Nitro. He was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime dog for sure.

For the full list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the Department of Justice, please link to the URL below:

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