Service Animals and ADA Compliance at Your Business
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law enacted in 1990, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the public.
The ADA requires businesses 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.
What is a Service Animal?
The American with Disabilities Act says: “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. ”
Further, it states what the term “do work or perform tasks” means: “The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, 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” (July 20, 2015).
So, for the animal to qualify as a service animal under ADA, it must be trained to perform tasks for the disabled. Also note, beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs (and miniature horses) are recognized as service animals under Titles II and III of the ADA.