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ADA Service Animals

Americans suffering from disabilities occasionally need additional assistance in everyday life. Service animals are animals that are specifically trained to help disabled individuals perform tasks such as guiding the blind, pulling wheelchairs, alerting the deaf, etc. In 2010, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was revised and changed the definition of a service animal to:

“Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition." C.F.R. § 35.104 and § 36.104 (2010)

This revision eliminated all other animals off the service animal list besides the miniature horse, which has it’s own new, separate provision in the ADA. However, some states such as Florida have exceptions and their own laws that state a service animal is any animal that is specially trained to assist a disabled person.


How Service Animals Can Help

The ADA lists examples of work and tasks that are performed by service animals in section § 35.104 and § 36.104 (2010). Emotional and criminal support are not considered “work or tasks” under the ADA.

Service animals are able to:

  • retrieve objects and items
  • pull a wheelchair
  • guide individuals who are blind or have poor vision
  • alert people who are deaf or have bad hearing
  • provide non-violent protection
  • remind a person with mental illness to take their medications
  • help an individual during a seizure
  • inform individuals in the presence of allergens
  • give balance and stability support to individuals with mobility impairments
  • comfort an individual with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.