Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
The Department of
revised final regulations
Disabilities Act (ADA) for
This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s revised regulations.
Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized
as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.
A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to
do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
Generally, title II and title III entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all
areas where members of the public are allowed
title II (State and local
and title III (public
on September 15, 2010,
in the Federal Register.
These requirements, or
How “Service Animal” Is Defined
rules, clarify and refine
issues that have arisen
over the past 20 years
and contain new, and
including the 2010
Standards for Accessible
Design (2010 Standards).
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually
trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to
take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack,
or performing other duties. Service animals are working
animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained
to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional
support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
(continued, page 2)
Revised ADA Requirements: Service Animals
This definition does not affect or limit the
broader definition of “assistance animal”
under the Fair Housing Act or the broader
definition of “service animal” under the Air
Carrier Access Act.
Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges,
and Other Specific Rules Related
to Service Animals
When it is not obvious what service
an animal provides, only limited
inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask
t wo questions: (1) is the dog a service
animal required because of a disability,
and (2) what work or task has the dog
been trained to perform. Staff cannot
ask about the person’s disability,
require medical documentation, require
a special identification card or training
documentation for the dog, or ask
that the dog demonstrate its ability to
perform the work or task.
Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid
reasons for denying access or refusing
service to people using service animals.
When a person who is allergic to dog
dander and a person who uses a service
animal must spend time in the same
room or facility, for example, in a school
classroom or at a homeless shelter,
they both should be accommodated by
assigning them, if possible, to different
locations within the room or different
rooms in the facility.
A person with a disability cannot be
asked to remove his service animal
from the premises unless: (1) the dog
is out of control and the handler does
not take effective action to control
it or (2) the dog is not housebroken.
When there is a legitimate reason to
ask that a service animal be removed,
s taff must offer the person with the
disability the opportunity to obtain
goods or services without the animal’s
Some State and local laws also define
service animal more broadly than the ADA
does. Information about such laws can be
obtained from that State’s attorney general’s office.
Where Service Animals...