People with disabilities sometimes need a “service animal” to assist them with life tasks. For example, people with impaired vision might rely on guide dogs for navigation, and those who suffer from seizures may rely on dogs for seizure warnings. There are also “emotional support animals” to assist those with emotional or mental disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which apply to government buildings and public accommodations, respectively a “service animal” is defined as a dog (or a miniature horse) that is trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability. This definition, however, does not include “companion animals” (pets), or “emotional support animals.” Although these animals often have therapeutic benefits, they are not trained to perform specific tasks for their handler. Under the ADA, owners of public accommodations are only required to permit service animals, not companion or emotional support animals.