An overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act
concerning Service Animals
Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform
tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are
blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting
and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other
special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and
organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities
to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where
customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies
to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels,
taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and
medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.
Businesses that serve the public must allow people with disabilities
to enter with their service animal.
Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks
the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID
cards for the animal or ask about the person's disability.
People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged
extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than
other patrons. However, if a business such as a hotel normally charges
guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may
be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service
animal from the premises unless:
(1) the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take
effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly
during a movie) or
(2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
In these cases, the business should give the person with the disability
the option to obtain goods and services without having the animal
on the premises.
Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in
public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on
A business is not required to provide care or food for a service
animal or provide a special location for it to relieve itself.
Allergies and fear of animals are generally not valid reasons for
denying access or refusing service to people with service animals.
Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages
For more information on the Fair Housing Act and Americans
with Disabilities Act See:
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