Service Animal Laws in All 50 States: What You Need to Know

(Last Updated On: January 4, 2019)

If you have a service animal or an emotional support animal, you should probably have an understanding of the service animal laws in your state. Here’s some information we’ve found for each of the states to help you learn more about the laws in your area!

Keep in mind that local laws may vary. Some states may allow cities and counties to set certain obligations for service and emotional support animals. Always make sure you check with your county to find out if they follow state laws or set their own!

Here are federal service animal laws.

The ADA protects service dogs and their handlers. There are some service animal laws that are federal and all 50 states must uphold them. While many of the laws apply to working with disabilities, the one that applies most often for people who have a service animal or an ESA is the “2 Questions” law. This law states that the only two questions staff are allowed to ask about a service animal are:

  • “Is the animal required because of a disability?”
  • “What work or task does the animal perform?”

They cannot ask for a demonstration of the task, ask you to show documentation or any other information about the animal. They may only ask these questions if the dog or other animal is not clearly a service animal. (For example, you should never ask a blind person with a seeing eye dog who has an optional clearly marked vest either of these questions)

Another law that applies to everyone who has a service animal: cities and states cannot require you to get certification for your service animal, but you must still register, vaccinate and license your dog unrelated to the service it performs!

These are exceptions to service animal laws.

Here are some institutions that do not have to comply with ADA laws that allow service animals in different situations where pets are not allowed:

  • Churches and other religious areas (your state or city might have specific laws that do require religious institutions to allow service animals).
  • Federal agencies like the VA.
  • Shopping carts (you can bring your animal in any store, but they must remain on the floor and must walk or be in your personal wheelchair).
  • Restaurant chairs (your animal may be in the restaurant with you, but they cannot sit at a chair and they cannot eat food off of the table).
  • Swimming pools (your service animal can be on the deck or in any area surrounding the pool, but they cannot swim with you. If you are in distress, the animal will have ADA protection to jump in the pool and save you).
  • Airplanes (airlines have a variety of rules for service animals flying. While the ADA does not protect animals on airlines, most airlines have policies to allow service animals).

What’s the difference in service animals and emotional support animals?

The ADA covers service animals, but it does not cover emotional support animals. While there is no “official” registration process and employers, businesses and the general public cannot ask you to “prove” your service animal. The ADA only protects true service animals. If you have an emotional support animal, you might receive protection under the fair housing act.

A note:
this list includes information on service animals for all states. Some states have special verbiage and accommodations for emotional support, comfort animals and general support animals. We have included information about these laws in states that have them.

Alabama

Alabama follows the ADA requirements for service animal laws. Your service animal must perform a specific function or task directly related to your disability. An additional law that in Alabama requires a disabled person to be liable for damage to people or property by a service animal.

Alaska

If you’re in Alaska and have a service animal, your animal will have to go through specific training to perform a task. The law does not specify who has to train your animal. You might also have to have certification for your service animal. Alaska does not require you to have medical documentation for your service animal.

Arizona

Arizona has some service animal laws that require your animal to be trained. You do not need to have the animal certified in Arizona, but you will need to have medical documentation for your service animal. Arizona law doesn’t protect emotional support animals, training service dogs or comfort animals. Despite not having protection, your animal may still be able to go to different establishments.

Arkansas

Service animals in Arkansas are protected under the same protections as the ADA offers. In addition to the ADA requirements and exceptions, people in Arkansas who have a service animal have a responsibility under the law to make sure their service animal is within compliance of emergency responders and law enforcement professionals. There is no specific information on what “compliance” means.

California

If you’re in California, the service animal laws might protect you with reasonable accommodation for employment and housing. You might also get protection for travel and even for visiting stores. California follows the ADA but also makes an exception for animals that are used for psychiatric purchases.

Colorado

Cities in Colorado follow the ADA service animal laws. They also have specific verbiage on companion animals and ESAs. This states the companion animals are not protected under ADA in the same way as service animals, but they are protected under housing laws. Businesses don’t have to allow ESAs.

Connecticut

If you’re in Connecticut, there are service animal laws that might protect you. The public must make accommodations to protect people who are blind, deaf or mobility impaired. Even though Connecticut doesn’t require you to register your dog as a service animal, you must license your dog and have the appropriate tags and vaccines.

Delaware

Delaware follows the same guidelines as the ADA put into place. There are additional service animal laws that protect people from having their animals interfered with in various situations. Service animals in Delaware must be able to perform specific tasks. Emotional support animals don’t receive the same protection as service animals, but may be protected under fair housing acts.  

Florida

If you have a service dog in Florida, you have a right to have the dog in public and in places where pets are typically banned. The law follows closely with the federal ADA laws but does have some additional verbiage to protect people if a service dog is out of control. Service dog trainers receive the same protection as people with disabilities.

Georgia

Georgia’s state service animal laws follow the same laws like the ADA, but they also include information on how the dog should be trained. Service dogs in Georgia must be trained by a certified professional even though the dog does not have to be certified. The law does not protect people who have emotional support animals, but federal housing laws allow them in homes that don’t allow pets.

Hawaii

The laws in Hawaii are in line with ADA guidelines and they also include some further accommodation for companion and comfort animals. As long as the companion or comfort animal is trained to do work or perform tasks, they will receive protection under the ADA laws and Hawaii service animal laws.

Idaho

In addition to the ADA laws, Idaho state law also makes accommodation for people using public transportation facilities, housing and other public spaces in Idaho that might not be covered under ADA. The Idaho law also protects service animals by making it illegal for people and businesses to interfere with the service animal.

Illinois

Illinois laws for service animals protect people in the same way as the ADA laws do. The state of Illinois takes it one step further by specifically mentioning schools. Aand that all students with a service animal will be allowed to have their animal with them at all times whether they are inside or outside of the classroom. Illinois also allows service animals in public swimming pools. As long as the animals do not pose a direct threat to the sanitary conditions. This means your service dog can swim in the pool as long as it doesn’t relieve itself in the pool.

Indiana

In addition to the ADA service animal laws, Indiana also has their own laws that include service dogs for people with specific conditions including psychiatric ones, autism and seizure disorders in addition to blindness and hearing impairment. Indiana protects these animals in housing situations, in the public and in instances where businesses might charge a fee for the animals. The laws in Indiana also allow people to bring their service animals into the polls.

Iowa

Iowa’s state laws closely mirror the ADA laws. They also include “assistive animal” in their laws which allows people to receive protection if their animal supports, provides a service or is being trained to do either of those things.

Kansas

If you’re in Kansas and you have a service animal, you’ll receive state protection in addition to the ADA service animal laws. Dogs who are trained as service dogs, hearing or seeing dogs will all receive the same protection. Professional therapy dogs will also receive that protection. Comfort dogs are not included in the protection, but the state does not require the dog to be certified as a therapy dog.

Kentucky

Kentucky laws are the same as the ADA laws. They also provide accommodation for service dogs that are used in public services like search and rescue and bomb dogs. If a business or person denies entry, housing or accommodation to a person with a service animal, they can face a fine between $250 and $1,000.

Louisiana

Louisiana’s service animal guidelines and laws follow the ADA rules. They also make accommodations for people who have service animals and are in need of housing. People cannot be denied housing and must be able to have a home that has reasonable accommodations if they have a service animal.

Maine

If you’re in Maine, you have the same protections under state law as you do under the ADA law. Maine also makes accommodations to ensure people with service animals have access to fair housing situations. You and your animal are also protected from attacks or infringements on the services the animal is able to perform.

Maryland

The Maryland laws on service animals mirror the ADA laws. Additionally, Maryland makes accommodations for people who are training service dogs. Parents of minor children who use service animals also receive the same protection and adults who use service animals.

Massachusetts

If you have a service animal in Massachusetts, you’re entitled to have your dog at public places, in restaurants and in any home regardless of pets being allowed. The state follows the same laws as ADA but also includes laws that allow people and their service animals to receive protection from infringements on the service animal’s job.

Michigan

If you’re in Michigan and have a service animal, you have protection for you and your service animal. Michigan state law follows the same rules as the ADA laws. You could also get housing protection for your service animal. Michigan has laws that could protect you for housing with an emotional support animal despite it not being covered under the ADA laws.

Minnesota

In addition to the same service animal laws as the ADA has, Minnesota offers protection in the event someone or something hurts your service animal. You could get compensation. The person or the owner of the thing that hurt your animal will receive a fine. Minnesota also has laws preventing people from interfering with your service animal’s duties.

Mississippi

Even though Mississippi follows the ADA guidelines for service animals, emotional support animals are not included in this. Therapy and support animals that are trained to do a specific task receive protection. In addition, trainers receive the same rights and accommodations as those who need the animals.

Missouri

Missouri makes special accommodations for people with professional therapy dogs and other service animals. These do not include certified or uncertified dogs that are used in visitation therapy although many institutions make accommodations for those. You may also receive protection from anyone interfering with your service animal under Mississippi law.

Montana

Montana service animal laws mirror the laws the ADA has in place. Service animals and their handlers receive protection and accommodations. Service animals that are in training will receive the same type of protection, but they must have clear notifications that they are in training to be a service animal.

Nebraska

Even though Nebraska follows the same laws as the ADA has in place, they do not make special accommodations for animals other than dogs. Only dogs who are trained for physical disabilities, psychiatric and intellectual disabilities receive protection under the Nebraska state service animal laws.

Nevada

Nevada follows the same service animal laws that are in place with the ADA. In addition to the laws for service animals, there are laws in place that protect service animals in training.

New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, a service animal is only a dog that is trained to perform a specific task. The state follows the same laws and guidelines as the ADA has put into place. If you have a service animal that is not a dog, though, these laws won’t protect you.

New Jersey

Service animals and guide dogs receive protection both under the ADA and New Jersey service animal laws in New Jersey. If you have a service animal, you get protection for housing, in restaurants and in stores. You may also be able to take your animal on public transportation and accommodations will be made for people using a service animal.

New Mexico

New Mexico follows the same service animal laws as the ADA laws. In addition to the laws, they also make special exceptions and have specific verbiage protecting people who use a qualified service miniature horse. This law ensures service miniature horses have the same protection as service dogs.

New York

If you’re in New York and have a service animal, you will receive protection under the ADA and New York service animal laws. Not only can you take your service animal into establishments that traditionally ban pets but you also receive discrimination protection. You will get help if something happens to your service animal through no fault of your own.

North Carolina

North Carolina makes it clear that assistance and service animals are not limited just to dogs but that other animals may also be included. You may be able to get a permanent registration you can show to get your service animal in different places. Service animals in training receive the same rights as service animals.

North Dakota

If you’re in North Dakota, you have the same rights as you do under ADA protective laws for your service animal. You might also be able to receive protection if someone harasses, taunts or provokes your service animal. Additionally, North Dakota service animal laws include service animals who are training.

Ohio

Ohio has service animal laws that protect service and assistance dogs. People who have these animals receive protection for housing, for buildings and for restaurants. Ohio laws closely mirror ADA laws.

Oklahoma

If you’re in Oklahoma, the state has service animal laws that make it clear a landlord cannot deny or terminate your rental agreement just because you have a service dog. You also have the same protection under state laws as you do under the ADA laws.

Oregon

The Oregon service animal laws are similar to the ADA laws in that they protect you from discrimination for using a service animal. They also include additional accommodations for housing and other situations. Another benefit of Oregon service animal laws is that your city or county cannot charge you a fee to license your service dog. You can get a free license for your service animal in Oregon.

Pennsylvania

Service animals in Pennsylvania are protected under PA laws which are similar to the ADA laws. Pennsylvania also has laws in place that help a service animal owner replace their animal. This protection is available if something happens to it because of another person or entity.

Rhode Island

If you’re in Rhode Island, you might be able to get protection for your service animal if it’s a guide dog, service dog or personal assistance animal. A landlord cannot refuse housing to you if you have a service animal.

South Carolina

South Carolina protects handlers and service animals the same way as the ADA does. They also have verbiage in their service animal laws that have specific punishments for people who interfere with or harm a service animal while working.

South Dakota

People who have service animals are protected under the ADA and under South Dakota law. South Dakota laws also make it clear that landlords may not prohibit people from renting because of a service animal.

Tennessee

In addition to having service animal laws that are similar to the ADA laws, Tennessee offers protection for service animal trainers. They are able to have the same rights as handlers.

Texas

Texas includes transportation laws in their service animal laws! In addition to the protection you receive that is similar to ADA laws, you also get protection on public transportation. The protection includes airplanes, trains, streetcars, boats and any other transportation! You will not be denied entry into public transportation. Also, you will not be required to pay an extra fee to bring your service animal onto public transportation!

Utah

Animals in Utah that are trained specifically as service animals receive the same protection under the ADA guidelines. Only dogs that are trained service dogs receive protection under Utah service animal laws. You won’t receive the same type of protection if your animal is an emotional support or companionship animal whether it’s registered or not. You may, however, receive protection under the fair housing act if you have an ESA.

Vermont

Service animals and their handlers in Vermont receive the same protection as they do under federal ADA laws. The service animal laws in Vermont apply to animals trained to do a specific job.

Virginia

In addition to making the same accommodations and protections as the ADA laws, Virginia law also protects a “tthree-unitteam.” This means a service dog, the person with the disability and the dog handler all receive the same protection under VA service animal laws. You don’t have to have a three-unit team, but if you do it’s protected.

Washington

Laws for service animals in Washington follow all the ADA laws and guidelines. They are protected at food establishments, in housing situations and in all public places. There may also be some protection for service dogs on public transportation.

Washington DC

The laws for service animals in Washington DC follow the same structure as the ADA service animal laws. Landlords cannot discriminate against you if you have a service animal. You will also receive employment protection if you have a service animal.

West Virginia

West Virginia law protects service animals in the same way as the ADA service animal laws. Additionally, West Virginia law prohibits entities from collecting a head tax on a service dog.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin service animal laws follow the same guidelines as the ADA laws. Wisconsin also makes provisions for trainers. As long as a trainer has the service animal with them, they receive protection. The service animal in training must have a cape and a leash or harness that identifies it as a service animal in training.

Wyoming

In addition to the protection from the ADA, people with service animals in Wyoming may also be able to get protection on public transportation including motor vehicles, airplanes and trains. You don’t have to certify your animal, but it must perform a specific task.

Want to learn more about getting an emotional support animal? Click here!

We found resources in all 50 states…check them out here!



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