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How a Service Animal is defined by the ADA

How a Service Animal is defined by the ADA

How “Service Animal” Is Defined

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

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the
Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier
Access Act.

Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does.
Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.
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