What is a service animal?

The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments
  • A service animal is not a pet

Show All Answers

1. What are the laws that apply to my business?
2. What is a service animal?
3. How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?
4. What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my business?
5. I have always had a clearly posted "no pets" policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow service animals in?
6. My county health department has told me that only a seeing eye or guide dog has to be admitted. If I follow those regulations, am I violating the ADA?
7. Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals into my business?
8. I operate a private taxicab and I don't want animals in my taxi? Am I violating the ADA if I refuse to pick up someone with a service animal?
9. Am I responsible for the animal while the person with a disability is in my business?
10. What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?
11. Can I exclude an animal that doesn't really seem dangerous but is disruptive to my business?