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Here’s what the law says about service animals and their handlers

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is “a guide dog, signal dog, or other animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”

Under the ADA’s rules, if the service animals meets this definition, it is irrelevant if the animal is licensed or certified by the state or local government.

It is illegal to be denied access to hotels, restaurants, airports and other public accommodations because of the use of a service animal.

If landlords attempt to tack on extra fees because of a service animal, they are breaking the law.

Service animals are not considered pets as they perform important jobs for the people they work with such as alerting to sound, pulling wheelchairs, picking things up and more.

There are two questions that someone is legally allowed to ask if questioning whether or not an animal is a service animal:

  • Is the animal service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work task has the animal been trained to perform?

While those questions are allowed, it is not required of the service animal’s handler to answer questions about their specific disability, provide medical or training documentation, or show a special ID card. It is also illegal to insist that the service animal demonstrates its abilities.

Service animals are allowed anywhere that their owners are as long as they are harnessed, leashed, or tethered. They all must be well-behaved and housebroken.

If you believe ADA rights have been violated, you can file a formal complaint. For more information, click here.  

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