There’s a lot of misunderstanding, misinformation, and misrepresentation attached to the label of service dogs. Because I believe that a person who is disabled and benefits from their service dog(s) should have easy access to the laws that regulated everyday life with a service dog, I have complied a simpler, modified list for quick reference. Please refer to the ADA, for complete information.


Under the ADA, American Disability Act, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Service dogs enable a person with a disability to function better and enhance their daily life experience. A few examples of what service dogs may provide are to provide physical support for a person who has difficulty walking, assisting a person who uses a wheelchair by opening doors or picking up items, or alerting a person who has hearing loss when someone is approaching from behind.


Service dogs are not required to be trained professionally. A disabled person can train their service dog. Some states and local laws also consider dogs-in-training to be service dogs.


When a disability such as loss of hearing, is not obvious, employees of an entity are permitted by law to ask only two questions of the disabled person: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what service has the dog been trained to perform?


The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices,
or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities This includes their service dogs.


Additionally, any business including housing, that has a “no pets” policy must allow service animals into their facilities. Any housing accommodations that charge a fee for dogs, initially or monthly, are prohibited from charging a fee for service dogs.


It is not permitted by law for anyone to request documentation for the dog, nor is it permitted to require that the dog demonstrate its training. It is also not permitted to inquire about the nature of a person’s disability.


The ADA does not require that service animals be certified or registered as service animals. No entity may require proof that the service dog has been certified, registered, or trained as a condition to enter or acquire accommodations.


The ADA does not require service dogs to wear ID tags, vests, or harnesses. Online companies selling these particular identification items for service animals are not doing so through the ADA. 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. However, entry into otherwise restricted areas may be less complicated when your dog is easily recognized as a service dog. This may be especially beneficial if your handicap is not immediately obvious. People who tend to be over-anxious to pet strange dogs may think again before approaching.


Hotels may not restrict guests with service dogs to specific dog designated rooms and may not charge additional fees. Only damages to a room for accommodation can be charged, but additional fees for hair removal due to shedding are not allowed.


More than one service dog is not restricted by any law. Some disabilities may benefit from the use of more than one dog as each dog may provide a different service to the disabled person.


Service dogs must be allowed to accompany their handlers in an ambulance or hospital as long as the dog does not interfere with administered medical care. If the ambulance cannot accommodate the service dog, the staff must make alternate arrangements for the service dog to be transported to the hospital.

The patient must be able to care for the service dog or make arrangements for someone else to care for the service dog while they are hospitalized. Service dogs are allowed to go anywhere the patient/handler goes and may not be restricted on the basis that the hospital staff can provide the same service as the dog.


Service dogs must be vaccinated and registered/licensed according to local laws. In some states, the rabies tag also serves as a license.


Service dogs are not breed restricted and no service dog can be refused access due to breed unless that particular service dog poses a threat.


Service dogs are not to be placed in a shopping cart and must remain on the floor or be carried depending on the situation and use of the service dog.


All service dogs are to be permitted to accompany a disabled person in a restaurant but not permitted to be seated or fed at the table. Service dogs must be allowed to accompany their handlers through self-service food lines, and preparation areas, such as shelters or dormitories.


The ADA yields to public health rules that prohibit dogs in swimming pools
but service dogs must be allowed on the pool deck.


Religious institutions are exempt from the ADA service dog regulations. However, check your state laws that apply to religious organizations.


Service dogs are still permitted to travel on commercial flights. Additionally, psychiatric service animals are considered to be service dogs.  Emotional support dogs are not considered to be service dogs and are not permitted to travel under the guise of being a service dog.

Multiple rules, regulations, and required forms are still in place so check with your department of transportation.

check back for Emotional support dog information


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