Service animals, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, are dogs that have been trained to perform a specific task, and are able to go wherever their owner goes, with very few exceptions.
Service animals perform many functions, like guiding someone who is blind, helping a person with physical limitations to walk or press automatic door openers, or helping an owner to short-circuit psychiatric symptoms associated with PTSD or Panic Disorder.
There are only 2 questions that can be asked of the owner of a service animal to determine its legitimacy:
- Do you have the animal because of a disability?
- What is the animal trained to do?
If it is readily apparent that the dog is providing a service, as in the case of helping to guide a blind person, these questions are considered inappropriate and should not be asked.
There is no requirement that service animals be “certified”, “registered” or wear a vest. Owners will sometimes use these devices to alert or educate the public, but there is no legal expectation for their use.
The owner of a service animal is responsible for cleaning up after it. A service animal can be banned if it is not housebroken or if the animal is disruptive.
A service animal cannot be excluded from a class merely because another student has a dog allergy. Our staff would work with an instructor to make sure the service animal and the student with a dog allergy keep a safe distance in the classroom.
With the owner’s permission, others may interact with a service animal.
For those interested in learning more about service animals, the following Department of Justice publications are available: one with the final regulations about service animals, and the other to a frequently asked questions page.