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Service Animals

You must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of your business where customers are normally allowed to go. Service animals are dogs that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. If your business has a "no pets" policy, you must typically make an exception to the policy when a customer has a service dog.

A service animal  gives a can of soda to a young man using a wheelchair.

You must also consider making a reasonable policy modification to allow an individual with a disability to use a miniature horse that is trained to provide assistance to the individual. Factors to consider include the type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether your facility can accommodate these features; whether the individual has sufficient control of the animal; whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and whether legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation will be compromised.

You do not need to allow species other than dogs or miniature horses (for example, monkeys, rats, ferrets, snakes, cats, pigs, full-sized horses, ponies) in your facility, regardless of whether the animal performs tasks for an individual with a disability (unless you allow other customers to have such animals in your facility as pets).

If you are not sure whether an animal is a service animal or a pet, you may ask the person if his or her animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform. However, you should not expect the person to show a special ID card for the animal and should not ask about the person’s disability. Many uncomfortable situations can be avoided by educating staff about the rights of people who use service animals. The U.S. Department of Justice’s publication ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Service Animals external-link.gif provides additional information on this subject.

Most people are familiar with guide dogs that help people who are blind to get around safely. But there are many other services that animals are trained to provide for people with a wide range of disabilities. Animals can be trained to pull a wheelchair or retrieve objects for people who use wheelchairs, alert people who are deaf to sounds in the environment, alert people with epilepsy to an impending seizure, help people with autism to stay focused, and perform many other tasks. Most people with disabilities who use service animals find the animals essential for coping with situations in everyday life.

If a service animal is out of control and presents a direct threat to others, you may ask the customer to remove it from the premises.