Americans with Disabilities Act's Rules for Service Dogs

"For some people, their service animal is the most important accommodation they have in their lives," said Tom Stentson, an Attorney with the Portland nonprofit Disability Rights Oregon.

Posted: Oct 13, 2017 6:12 PM
Updated: Oct 13, 2017 6:12 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Americans with Disabilities Act is what protects people living with a disability from any type of discrimination.

"For some people, their service animal is the most important accommodation they have in their lives," said Tom Stentson, an Attorney with the Portland nonprofit Disability Rights Oregon.

Stentson said if you have a service animal, generally speaking, that animal is allowed to go with you anywhere a person would be allowed to go. He said that's because they're trained to perform a specific task, that can be life-saving.

He says under the ADA, a person is able to bring a service animal, which is either a dog or a miniature horse, into a public place.

"Generally speaking, you cannot refuse service to somebody because they have a service animal with them or force them to leave their dog or animal outside," said Stentson.

Coordinator Eugene Organ at Lane Independent Living Alliance said people can ask two questions: "Under the ADA, there are two questions you can be asked. You can ask a person 'is the dog necessary for a disability?' Secondly, you can ask 'what takes has the dog been individually trained to provide?'"

Beyond that, the person has to be taken by their word.

Unlike companion animals, service animals are trained to provide a specific task like guiding someone who's blind, but not all disabilities are visible.

There are also psychiatric service animals.

LILA's Access and Training Associate Erycka Organ said service animals are "trained to to notice certain repetitive behaviors in a person when they're building to an anxiety attack, and alert them ahead of time."

They said if a dog is misbehaving, then people can ask for the animal to be removed. 

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