Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
Americans with Disabilities Act
ADA Business BRIEF: Service Animals
Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks
for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting
people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person
who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals
are working animals, not pets.
Under the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow
people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas
of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal
law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants,
hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and
medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.
Caption: Businesses that serve
the public must allow people with disabilities to enter with their service
- Businesses may ask if an
animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained
to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask
about the person's disability.
- People with disabilities
who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from
other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons. However,
if a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that
they cause, a customer with a disability may be charged for damage caused
by his or her service animal.
- A person with a disability
cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless:
(1) the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take
effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly
during a movie) or (2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health
or safety of others.
- In these cases, the business
should give the person with the disability the option to obtain goods
and services without having the animal on the premises.
- Businesses that sell or
prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state
or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
- A business is not required
to provide care or food for a service animal or provide a special location
for it to relieve itself.
- Allergies and fear of animals
are generally not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service
to people with service animals.
- Violators of the ADA can
be required to pay money damages and penalties.
Caption: Service animals are
individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities.
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.
Duplication is encouraged.