FAQ about Service Animals

Many people with disabilities use a service animal in order to fully participate in everyday life. What is a service animal?

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work on perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be clearly related to person’s disability.

Are emotional support, therapy , comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?

No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Does a hospital have to allow an in-patient with a disability to keep a service animal in his or her room?

Generally, yes. Service animals must be allowed in patient rooms and anywhere else in the hospital the public and patients are allowed to go. They cannot be excluded on the grounds that staff can provide the same services.

What happens if a patient who uses a service animal is admitted to the hospital and is unable to care for or supervise their animal?

If the patient is not able to care for the service animal, the patient can make arrangements for a family member or friend to come to the hospital to provide these services, as it is always preferable that the service animal and its handler not be separated, or to keep the dog during the hospitalization. If the patient is unable to care for the dog and is unable to arrange for someone else to care for the dog, the hospital may place the dog in an animal shelter until the patient is released, or make other appropriate arrangements. However, the hospital must give the patient the opportunity to make arrangements for the dog’s care before taking such steps.

Do apartments, mobile home parks, and other residential properties have to comply with the ADA?

The Fair Housing Act is the Federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in residential facilities. For information or to file a complaint, contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 800-669-9777

Do commercial airlines have to comply with the ADA?

No. The Air Carrier Access Act is the Federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in air travel. For information or to file a complaint, contact the U.S. Department of Transportation, Aviation Consumer Protection Division, at 202-366-2220

Do Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, have to comply with the ADA?

No. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the Federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities to participate in Federal programs and services. For information or to file a complaint, contact the agency’s equal opportunity office.

Questions? Give Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law a call at 615.824.2571.

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