Where are Service Dogs Allowed?

People with disabilities have the right to use service dogs anywhere the general public is allowed to go.

Under Title II and III of the ADA, state and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. This includes movie theaters, restaurants, retail stores, parks, recreation facilities, courthouses.

Service dogs may only be excluded from areas when their presence would cause:

  • A direct threat to health and safety
  • A fundamental change to the nature of a program or activity.

For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as  cafeterias, clinic waiting areas or routine examination rooms.

However, it would be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.

Definition of a Service Animal.

A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Examples of  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.

Miniature Horses

Although miniature horses are not included in the definition of a service animal.  Title II and III regulations do include miniature horses as an exception to a service dog.  Entities covered by Title II and III of the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. This fact sheet provides more information about miniature horses as service animals. Miniature Horses.pdf

This information is from the U.S. Department of Justice ADA 2010 Revised Requirements.