Service Animals

Conducting Business When Accompanied by a Service Animal

What Is A Service Animal?

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Animals which meet this definition are considered service animals whether or not they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. Service animals, usually dogs of any breed or size, are working animals and are not considered pets. A service animal:

  • guides people who are blind
  • alerts people who are hearing impaired
  • pulls wheelchairs
  • alerts and protects a person who may have seizures
  • performs other special tasks

The Americans With Disabilities Act

The ADA is a federal law which requires businesses and organizations that serve the public to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. Examples of these businesses and organizations include:

  • restaurants or hotels
  • taxis and shuttle buses
  • grocery and department stores
  • hospitals and medical offices
  • theaters
  • health clubs
  • parks and zoos
  • government offices that serve the public

Conducting Business With Service Animals

Businesses and organizations that serve the public have a responsibility to serve all their customers equally well. However, most business owners and office workers have little experience interacting with people who have disabilities and are accompanied by their service animals. If this is the case, you may be asked questions about your animal since most businesses do not allow animals in the building.

Businesses are not required to provide care or food for a service animal or to provide a special location for the animal to relieve itself. You are required to be responsible for your animal’s actions. You may be liable for damage caused by your animal.

Questions You May Be Asked

You should be prepared to answer either of the following questions:

  • Is your animal a service animal?
  • What tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

Questions You May Not Be Asked

These questions may not be asked:

  • Does your service animal have an ID card?
  • Has your animal been certified as a service animal?
  • What is your disability?

Although some service animals wear identifying harnesses or special collars, there is no requirement that service animals be identified.

How Should You Be Treated?

You should expect to be treated with the same care and concern as any other customer. You may not be charged a deposit or surcharge so your animal may accompany you. You cannot be segregated from other customers because you are accompanied by your service animal. You should not expect faster or better service because you are accompanied by your service animal.

You should not be asked to remove your animal from the office unless:

  • the animal is out of control and you are not trying to control it, or
  • the service animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other people. If this happens, you have the option of conducting your DMV business without having your animal on the premises.

County/city ordinances regarding leash laws apply to service animals as well as pets. Service animals must be leashed when inside a DMV field office if local county/city ordinances require it.

Helpful Websites

Here are some websites for additional information about service animals in places of business: