ADA Guide to Service Animals

The ADA explains what businesses and state/local governments must do to make sure that they do not discriminate against a member of the public with a disability who uses a service animal.

Generally, businesses and non-profits that are open to the public as well as state/local governments must allow service animals to go most places where the public can go. This is true even if they have a “no pets” policy.

Where Service Animals Can Go

Generally, service animals are allowed to be with their person, even in places that don’t allow pets. For example, service dogs can go into:

  • Restaurants
  • Shops
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Hotels

EXAMPLE: A restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. A woman arrives at the restaurant with her service dog and asks to sit inside. The restaurant cannot require the woman to dine outside because of her service dog.

Asking if a Dog is a Service Animal

If you are working at a business or state/local government facility and it is unclear to you whether someone’s dog is a service dog, you may ask for certain information using two questions.

You may ask:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

You are not allowed to:

  • Request any documentation that the dog is registered, licensed, or certified as a service animal
  • Require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability

Because service animals are not required to wear vests, a dog that is wearing a vest is not necessarily a service animal. The dog still needs to be trained to perform a task for a person with a disability to be a service animal.

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