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Service Animals

With so many people with disabilities in Arizona, many people use a resource that helps them DAILY in maintaining their lives. This resource is as crucial to their livelyhood as any other resource: their Service Animal.

We have found that while this should be a very simple topic, it seems different people's attitude on a service animal varies. The stigma is "you have to be blind" to need a service animal, however a service animal (which is professionally trained) can do a lot more than most people know.

Service Animals Defined

To completely understand what qualifies as a service animal under the ADA Laws as well as the State of Arizona, here are their definitions under Title II (state and local government programs), III (places of public accommodation, such as restaurants or retail merchants) and ARS 11:1024:

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division,Disability Rights Section

"Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Special Note: "Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the relevant State attorney general's office."

In addition, the DOJ also distributes has stated:

"Miniature Horses

In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s ADA regulations have a separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.) Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility."

Arizona Revised Statues 11:1024

"Any person or entity that operates a public place shall not discriminate against individuals with disabilities who use service animals if the work or tasks performed by the service animal are directly related to the individual's disability. Work or tasks include 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 nonviolent 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 individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks."

Where Service Animals Are Allowed

Under Arizona’s service animal law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in ALL AREAS OF THE FACILITY where the public is allowed to go.

Some examples that have been quoted are as follows:

  • in a hospital it usually would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms;
  • restaurants;
  • grocery stores;
  • theaters;
  • businesses;
  • schools;
  • motels, and more.

Inquiries of the Service Animals Allowed

Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals

If there is an OBVIOUS question to what service the animal provides, staff are ONLY allowed to ask two questions;

  • Is this animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?

Special Note: Staff ARE NOT allowed to ask about a person's disability, require any medical documentation or identification card or any other type of "proof" including requiring the animal to wear an identifying vest. In addition; Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken.

Who to File Whey You Have Been Discriminated Against

If you believe that you have been illegally denied access or service due to your service animal(s), individuals may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. Individual also have the right to file a private lawsuit in Federal Court charging the entity with discrimination under the ADA.



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