Over 12,000 people with disabilities use the aid of service animals. Although the most familiar types of service animals are guide dogs used by people who are blind, service animals are assisting persons who have other disabilities as well. Many disabling conditions are invisible. Therefore, every person who is accompanied by a service animal may or may not "look" disabled. A service animal is NOT required to have any special certification.
What is a Service Animal?
A service animal is NOT a pet!
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
A service animal is any animal that has been individually trained to provide assistance or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits one or more major life functions.
Service Animal Access
The civil rights of persons with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in all places of public and housing accommodations is protected by the following Federal laws:
- Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA (1990)
- Air Carrier Access Act (1986)
- Fair Housing Amendments Act (1988)
- Rehabilitation Act (1973)
Service Dog Etiquette
- Do not touch the Service Animal, or the person it assists, without permission.
- Do not make noises at the Service Animal, it may distract the animal from doing its job.
- Do not feed the Service Animal, it may disrupt his/her schedule.
- Do not be offended if the person does not feel like discussing his/her disability or the assistance the Service Animal provides. Not everyone wants to be a walking-talking "show and tell" exhibit.