Service Animal Policy


Many people with disabilities use a service animal to fully participate in everyday life. Dogs can  be trained to perform many important tasks to assist people with disabilities, such as providing stability  for a person who has difficulty walking, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, preventing  a child with autism from wandering away, or alerting a person who has hearing loss when someone is  approaching from behind. 

The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit  organizations (covered entities) 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. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a  “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities. 


  1. What is a Service Animal? 

Under the ADA, 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. (Grandfathered miniature horses also apply) 

  1. What does “do work or perform tasks” mean? 

The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a  disability. For example, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the  onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure. NEKOCON STAFF  MAY NOT ASK TO SEE THE ANIMAL PERFORM THE TASK. 

  1. Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals  under the ADA? 

No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person.  Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as  service animals under the ADA. 

  1. If someone’s dog calms them when having an anxiety attack, does this qualify it as a service  animal? 

It depends. The ADA makes a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emotional  support animals. If the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen  and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a  service animal. However, if the dog’s mere presence provides comfort, that would not be  considered a service animal under the ADA. IF THE ATTENDEE CLAIMS THE ANIMAL IS A SERVICE  ANIMAL, NEKOCON STAFF MUST ACCEPT THIS AS TRUE. 

  1. Are service-animals-in-training considered service animals under the ADA? 

No. Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places.  However, some State or local laws cover animals that are still in training. NEKOCON WILL ALLOW  DOGS IN TRAINING AS SERVICE ANIMALS.



What questions can a covered entity’s employees ask to determine if a dog is a service  animal? 

In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two  specific 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 are not allowed to request any  documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the  nature of the person’s disability. Only a Shift Captain or above may ask these two questions if they feel it necessary. 

Do service animals have to wear a vest or patch or special harness identifying them as service  animals? 

No. The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.

Can people bring more than one service animal into a public place? 

Generally, yes. Some people with disabilities may use more than one service animal to perform  different tasks. For example, a person may use one service animal to assist with way-finding and  another that is trained as a seizure alert dog. Other people may need two service animals for the  same task, such as a person who needs two dogs to assist him or her with stability when  walking. Staff may ask the two permissible questions (See Question 6) about each of the dogs. 

Can service animals be any breed of dog? 

Yes. The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals.

What does under control mean? Do service animals have to be on a leash? Do they have to  be quiet and not bark? 

The ADA requires that service animals be always under the control of the handler. In most  instances, the handler will be the individual with a disability or a third party who accompanies  the individual with a disability.  

The service animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in public places unless these  devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the person’s disability prevents use of these  devices. In that case, the person must use voice, signal, or other effective means to maintain  control of the animal.  

For example, a person who uses a wheelchair may use a long, retractable leash to allow her  service animal to pick up or retrieve items. She may not allow the dog to wander away from her  and must maintain control of the dog, even if it is retrieving an item at a distance from her.  Alternatively, a person who has great difficulty entering unfamiliar spaces may have a dog that is  trained to enter a space, check to see that no threats are there, and come back and signal that it  is safe to enter. The dog must be off leash to do its job but may be leashed at other times.  Under control also means that a service animal should not be allowed to bark repeatedly in a  lecture hall, theater, library, or other quiet place.  

Service dogs should not be running about or display aggressive or threat behavior or acting ill behaved.  

However, if a dog barks just once, or barks because someone has provoked it, this would not  mean that the dog is out of control. 

A disruptive person reacting to a well-behaved dog is not considered as the dog causing a  disruption, and that person may be asked to leave. 

Mere presence will not be considered a disruption.


What can my staff do when a service animal is being disruptive? 

If a service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it,  staff may request that the animal be removed from the premises. This is only to be done by a  Department Head or Division Head. 

What happens if a person thinks a covered entity’s staff has discriminated against him or her?

Individuals who believe that they have been illegally denied access or service because they use  service animals may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. Individuals also have  the right to file a private lawsuit in Federal court charging the entity with discrimination under  the ADA. IF AT ANY TIME, A STAFF MEMBER HAS A NEGATIVE INTERACTION WITH AN ATTENDEE  WITH A SERVICE ANIMAL THAT STAFF MUST IMMEDIATELY DOCUMENT THAT INTERACTION  WITH HUMAN RESOURCES AND THE DIVISION HEAD OF LOGISTICS. 


For more information about the ADA, please visit their website or call their toll-free number. 


To receive e-mail notifications when new ADA information is available, visit the ADA Website’s home  page and click the link near the bottom of the right-hand column. 


800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY) 

M-W, F 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Th 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) to speak with an ADA  Specialist. Calls are confidential. 

For people with disabilities, this publication is available in alternate formats.