Service Animal Information and Frequently Asked Questions

A service animal is any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.  Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication or pressing an elevator button. 

Emotional support animals or comfort animals and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA.  Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either.  The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support.  A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Question: What types of animals fit under the ADA’s definition of “service animal”?
    • Answer:  The following animals have been specifically trained to perform a task for the person with a disability:
      • Guide Dog or Seeing Eye® Dog is a carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool for persons who have severe visual impairments or are blind.
      • Hearing or Signal Dog is a dog that has been trained to alert a person who has a significant hearing loss or is deaf when a sound occurs, such as a knock on the door.
      • Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and lessen their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine; providing safety checks or room searches, or turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders; and keeping disoriented individuals from danger.
      • SSigDOG (sensory signal dogs or social signal dog) is a dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the handler to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping).
      • Seizure Response Dog is a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. How the dog serves the person depends on the person’s needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure or the dog may go for help. A few dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance to sit down or move to a safe place. Under the Title II and III of the ADA, service animals are limited to dogs. However, entities must make reasonable modifications in policies to allow individuals with disabilities to use miniature horses if they have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.
  • Question: Can service animals be any breed of dog?
    • Answer:  Yes. The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals.  A service animal may not be excluded simply because it is a certain breed.
  • Question: What questions can a covered entity’s employees ask to determine if a dog is a service animal?
    • Answer: In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.  UCA cannot require any type of documentation as proof that the animal has been certified or trained.
  • Question: Do service animals have to wear a vest or patch or special harness identifying them as service animals?
    • Answer: No. The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.
  • Question: The City of Conway requires all dogs to be vaccinated. Does this apply to my service animal?
    • Answer: Yes. Individuals who have service animals are not exempt from local animal control or public health requirements.
  • Question: The City of Conway requires all dogs to be registered and licensed. Does this apply to my service animal?
    • Answer: Yes. Service animals are subject to local dog licensing and registration requirements.  It is not legal to require a person to register their service dog.
  • Question: Who is responsible for the care and supervision of a service animal?
    • Answer: The handler is responsible for caring for and supervising the service animal, which includes toileting, feeding, and grooming and veterinary care. Covered entities are not obligated to supervise or otherwise care for a service animal.
  • Question: Can people bring more than one service animal into a public place?
    • Answer: Generally, yes. Some people with disabilities may use more than one service animal to perform different tasks. For example, a person who has a visual disability and a seizure disorder may use one service animal to assist with way-finding and another that is trained as a seizure alert dog. Other people may need two service animals for the same task, such as a person who needs two dogs to assist him or her with stability when walking. Staff may ask the two permissible questions about each of the dogs. If both dogs can be accommodated, both should be allowed in. In some circumstances, however, it may not be possible to accommodate more than one service animal. For example, in a crowded small restaurant, only one dog may be able to fit under the table. The only other place for the second dog would be in the aisle, which would block the space between tables. In this case, staff may request that one of the dogs be left outside.
  • Question: Can a service animal be removed if a student has allergies or has a fear of dogs?
    • Answer: Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access of refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible to different locations within the same room or different rooms in the facility.
  • Question: In what situations can a service animal be asked to be removed from the premises?
    • Answer: A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control (i.e. the dog is barking or the animal poses a direct threat to others) and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken.  When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
  • Question: What if a service animal is disruptive in my classroom?
    • Answer: Ask the student to remove the service animal from the classroom and complete the Assistance Animals Complaint Form.  If the student wishes to appeal your request to remove the service animal, the student can submit an appeal to the Assistance Animals Appeals Committee.
  • Question: What areas are off limits to Service Animals?
    • Answer: The University may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions (e.g. where the animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research). Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, the following: custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, motor pools, and rooms with heavy machinery and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to animals. Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting DRC and the appropriate department representative; however, the person directing the restricted area has the final decision.
  •  Question: Are miniature horses considered service animals?
    • Answer: In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.)  Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.

References:

  1. Southwest ADA Center (2014).  Service animals and emotional support animals.  Retrieved from https://adata.org/sites/adata.org/files/files/Service_Animal_Booklet_2014(2).pdf
  2. U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section (2015, July 20).  Frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA. Retrieved from https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html
  3. U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section (2011, July).  ADA requirements: Service animals. Retrieved from https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.pdf
  4. W. Readnour. (personal communication,  September 12, 2019)

Please note:  Service animal processes may vary from state to state.  The information provided in this Service Animal Information and Frequently Asked Questions document is supported by Federal Law and Arkansas State Law.