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Learn how service animals can assist people with disabilities, penalties for violating service animal laws and responsibilities when using a service animal.

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Service Animal Definition

Service animals are dogs specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability. A service animal must provide significant assistance to a person with a disability, such as:

  • Guiding a person who is blind or has a visual impairment
  • Alerting a person who is deaf or has a hearing impairment
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Alerting and protecting a person who has a condition that causes seizures
  • Reminding a person with a mental health condition to take prescribed medication
  • Calming a person with post-traumatic stress disorder

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Requirements to Use Service Animals

You may use a service animal with protection under state and federal law only if you are a person with any of the following disabilities:

  • Mental health condition
  • Physical disability
  • Intellectual or developmental disability
  • Hearing impairment, including deafness
  • Visual impairment, including blindness
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Any other condition that requires special ambulatory devices or services

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Your Rights


It is your right to enter with your trained service animal all places where members of the public are normally free to enter. This includes access to:

  • Public transportation, with no additional cost for the service animal
  • Hotels, motels or other places of lodging
  • College dormitory and educational facilities
  • Businesses
  • Restaurants or other places where food is offered for sale
  • Medical facilities, including medical clinics, examining rooms, hospital cafeterias and patient rooms

Service animals in training may also enter with an approved trainer all places where members of the public are normally free to enter.


It is your right to full and equal access to housing accommodations. You are exempt from pet deposits and any policies against owning animals. An exception to this rule is made for single-family residences where only one room is rented, leased or furnished.


It is your right to not be asked about your service animal’s qualifications or certifications when attempting to enter a public place. Representatives of a public facility may ask you about the basic type of assistance the service animal provides you.

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Your Responsibilities

You are responsible for any damages to public facilities caused by your service animal and for keeping the animal properly harnessed, leashed or controlled.

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Penalties for Violating Service Animal Laws


Denying entry or service to a person with a disability who uses a service animal is discrimination and a:

  • Misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine of not more than $300 and 30 hours of community service
  • Violation of civil liberties that warrants a cause of action for damages in court if there is a presumption of damages to the person

Fraudulent Use of Service Animals

Representing an untrained animal as a trained service animal is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $300 and 30 hours of community service.

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