Did you know that if you utilize an assistance animal, you and your animal both have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
People with disabilities may use service animals for a variety of reasons. To be categorized as a service animal, and therefore protected under the ADA, the animal must be trained to do a specific task for its owner. The most common example is a guide dog.
The ADA states that service animals are allowed in public facilities and accommodations. Even if the business has a “no pets” policy, it may not deny entry to a person with a service animal. The law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, which can include allowing an individual to have a service animal accompany them to work. Likewise, the ADA permits students with disabilities to bring service animals to school.
Additional protections under the ADA cover transportation—a person traveling with a service animal cannot be denied access to transportation, including subways, buses, taxicabs, shuttles and limousine services. The law states that people with a service animal cannot be forced to sit in a particular spot, cannot be charged additional fees, and does not need to provide advance notice. The Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to allow service animals to accompany their handlers in the cabin of the aircraft.
In contrast with service animals, assistance animals more broadly work, assist and perform tasks and services to help a person with a disability, or they may also provide emotional support that improves the symptoms of a disability. Assistance animals can be a cat, dog or other types of companion animal, and do not need to be trained to perform a service. While assistance animals are not fully protected by the ADA, their owners do have rights under the Fair Housing Act and others.
The Fair Housing Act, a federal law that protects a person with a disability from discrimination in obtaining housing, requires landlords to make a “reasonable accommodation” to allow pets who serve as assistance animals—even if a lease says “no pets.”
Because assistance animals are in a different legal classification than typical pets, pet restrictions and fees do not apply for them. Service and assistance animals are not technically pets and owners do not have to pay pet fees, although they may be charged if there is any damage caused by the animal to the home.
Looking for more info on the Fair Housing Act? Check out 10 Things You Should Know About the Fair Housing Act