People With Disabilities

What is a service animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA, regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal most people are familiar with. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their daily activities. Some examples include:

  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

A service animal is not a pet.*

*"Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals in Places of Business, " U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section