Service Animals in Pinellas County
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
28 CFR Part 35
CRT Docket No. 105; AG Order No.
Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services
Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
1) Service Animals defined as dogs only:
The Department´s final rule defines "service animal" as "any dog 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
In the NPRM, the Department used the term "common domestic animal" in the service animal definition and excluded reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including horses, miniature horses, ponies, pigs, and goats), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents from the service animal definition. 73 FR 34466, 34478 (June 17, 2008). However, the term "common domestic animal" is difficult to define with precision due to the increase in the number of domesticated species. Also, several State and local laws define a "domestic" animal as an animal that is not wild. The Department agrees with commenters´ views that limiting the number and types of species recognized as service animals will provide greater predictability for State and local government entities as well as added assurance of access for individuals with disabilities who use dogs as service animals. As a consequence, the Department has decided to limit this rule´s coverage of service animals to dogs, which are the most common service animals used by individuals with disabilities.
2) “Emotional Support Animals” not Service Animals:
The difference between an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service animal is the work or tasks that the animal performs. Traditionally, service dogs worked as guides for individuals who were blind or had low vision. Since the original regulation was promulgated, service animals have been trained to assist individuals with many different types of disabilities.
In the final rule, the Department has retained its position on the exclusion of emotional support animals from the definition of "service animal." The definition states that "[t]he provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship, * * * do[es] not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition."
3) Service Dogs cannot be excluded by local restrictions on breed:
Breed limitations. A few commenters suggested that certain breeds of dogs should not be allowed to be used as service animals. Some suggested that the Department should defer to local laws restricting the breeds of dogs that individuals who reside in a community may own. Other commenters opposed breed restrictions, stating that the breed of a dog does not determine its
propensity for aggression and that aggressive and non-aggressive dogs exist in all breeds.
The Department does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks. Such deference would have the effect of limiting the rights of persons with disabilities under the ADA who use certain service animals based on where they live rather than on whether the use of a particular animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Breed restrictions differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have no breed restrictions. Others have restrictions that, while well-meaning, have the unintended effect of screening out the very breeds of dogs that have successfully served as service animals for decades without a history of the type of unprovoked aggression or attacks that would pose a direct threat, e.g., German Shepherds. Other jurisdictions prohibit animals over a certain weight, thereby restricting breeds without invoking an express breed ban. In addition, deference to breed restrictions contained in local laws would have the unacceptable consequence of restricting travel by an individual with a disability who uses a breed that is acceptable and poses no safety hazards in the individual´s home jurisdiction but is nonetheless banned by other jurisdictions. State and local government entities have the ability to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal´s actual behavior or history--not based on fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave. This ability to exclude an animal whose behavior or history evidences a direct threat is sufficient to protect health and safety.
Registration, ID cards, vest or special patches for service animals are not required by the ADA, but they do help the public in distinguishing between a working service animal and a personal pet. Vest, registration, special patches and ID cards can be found/ purchased through private businesses (several are listed on the internet).
Pinellas County does require all service animals to have proof of current license (county tag) and rabies vaccination- and “shall be subject to inspection upon demand by any animal control code enforcement officer” Ch 14.61 Pinellas County Code.
If you have additional questions concerning the ADA and service animals, please call the Department's ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY) or visit the ADA Business Connection at ada.gov.
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Business owners may ask “Is your dog a service animal?”
And “what task has the service animal been trained to perform?”
* This response is important- if the answer is companionship then the animal is a pet and not a service animal. Service animals must perform a task for the disabled person. For example, a small dog may lick someone’s hand/face if person is experiencing an anxiety attack (mental disability) or brace a person’s leg (mobility disability).*
Business owners may not ask for the disabled person to provide proof of disability or ask what kind of disability they have, require special ID Cards or vest to be worn by the animal. Service animals are not required to have a certification or documentation of training. Service animals may be individually trained by the owner.
A business may refuse to provide food for a service animal not the disabled person.
ADA regulation states, “A business is not required to provide care of food for a service animal or provide a special location for it to relieve itself.” For example, providing a sample to the dog per the disabled person’s request - like in a grocery store or restaurant setting.
A business owner may request the removal of a service animal if the dog becomes a public nuisance (such as excessive barking or a danger to public health and safety- such as growling or aggression.
The owner is responsible for their service animal at all times and is responsible for any damages made by their animal.
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