Service Dog Laws and Requirements

service dog laws and requirements

In the United States, service dog laws can be separated into three areas:

  • Case Law – decisions made by courts
  • Federal Law – (both statutory and regulatory laws) and
  • State Law

Service Dog Laws and Requirements- Federal Law

The primary federal laws governing service dogs in the United States are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

In order to be classified as a service dog under Federal law, and in order to fall under the legal protections afforded to service animals, a service dog must be specially trained to perform specific tasks that will aid a person with a disability.

As with all working animals, service dogs are held to a very high standard.

If a service animal behaves inappropriately becomes disruptive or aggressive, or interferes with the rights of others, then the animal may no longer fall under the legal protections afforded to service dogs.

This is why service dogs must be highly trained, calm and collected, even under stressful circumstances.

Service Dog Laws and Requirements- ID Cards and Vests

Although there exists no shortage of websites that sell official-looking ID cards and vests for “service dogs”, therapy dogs and emotional support animals, registering or certifying an animal on such a site provides the handler with no discernible value. As an owner/handler of a service dog, you are not legally required to register or certify your animal as a service dog and there is no official Service Dog registry in the United States.

In order to determine whether an animal is a bona fide service dog, the U.S. Department of Justice allows businesses to ask the following two questions:

  1. Is this a service dog required because of disability?
  2. What is it trained to do to mitigate the disability?

In order to qualify as a “service animal” under federal law, the dog must be trained to perform specific tasks which assist an individual with his or her disability.