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.
DEFINTION OF A SERVICE ANIMAL
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
GENERAL RULES FOR DEALING WITH 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.
THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN MODIFIED FROM THE ORIGINAL AVAILABLE FROM: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html
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