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Service Animals: Partners in Independence

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Presentation on theme: "Service Animals: Partners in Independence"— Presentation transcript:

1 Service Animals: Partners in Independence
Presented by: Sherri L. Rita, J.D. - Northwest ADA Center

2 Technical Assistance about implementation of ADA Education & Training
Materials Dissemination Information & Referral Public Awareness Local Capacity Building Region X Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center, housed at Western Washington University. Funded by a federal grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Serve Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, providing: Answers to questions about the ADA and other disability-related laws Training Materials distribution. __________________ All calls are confidential There is no charge for our services All trainings or presentations are customized to the needs of the audience. What we are not: We are not an enforcement authority We are not lawyers or advocates (in most cases, we are not allowed to initiate contact).

"The Nation's proper goals regarding individuals with disabilities are to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency." -The Americans with Disabilities Act The ADA is unique in the context of civil rights legislation because it requires that businesses and governments do more than just cease discriminatory actions. They must also take proactive steps to offer equal opportunity to persons with disabilities, commensurate with their economic resources.

4 Americans with Disabilities Act
Civil Rights legislation passed in July 26th, 1990 Prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities Language is derived from earlier civil rights law and Rehab. Act of 1973 Title I Employment Title II State & Local Governments Title III Public Accommodations Title IV Telecommunications Title V Misc. legal and procedural laws

5 Under the ADA, what is the definition of disability?
The ADA definition of disability is not the same definition as is used by the Veterans Administration, Social Security or Workers’ Compensation. The ADA definition of disability is the one used in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504.

6 Three prongs of the definition of disability under the ADA:
Person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity Person with a record of such a physical or mental impairment Person who is regarded as having such an impairment

7 What does the ADA require in regard to service animals?
Employers must make reasonable accommodations to known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would be an undue hardship. The ADA requires that state & local government entities and businesses allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto the premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed. Intent of ADA is not to put in role of policing legitimate claims of disability or function, but to ensure goods & services are accessible

8 What is a service animal under the ADA
What is a service animal under the ADA? Federal Register - September 15, 2010 The rule defines "service animal" as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The rule states that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals , including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. These animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.

9 What is a service animal under the ADA?
Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals. The final rule also clarifies that individuals with mental disabilities who use service animals that are trained to perform a specific task are protected by the ADA.

10 Miniature Horses The rule permits the use of trained miniature horses as alternatives to dogs, subject to certain limitations. Assessment factors. (i) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features; (ii) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse; (iii) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and (iv) Whether the miniature horse's presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation. To allow flexibility in situations where using a horse would not be appropriate, the final rule does not include miniature horses in the definition of "service animal."

11 Training of Service Animals
Not currently regulated by Federal agencies Certification of trainers Certification of animals themselves Currently, there is no agreement within the service animal community about what minimum standards should be required. A number of states have programs to certify service animals, but a private entity cannot insist on proof of State certification (ADA). 21 States do secure the rights for access for animals in training

12 Behavior Service Animals should be under the control of their handler (leash or carrier) Service Animals are trained to behave well in public Should be clean & free of flees, ticks or other pests - A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means). - A public entity is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal. -

13 What do service animals do?
Service animals perform some of the tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself.

14 Service animals exist for many disabling conditions.
Guide Animals - visual Hearing Animals - hearing Mobility Animals - physical impairment/limitations Medical Alert Animals – mental illness, seizure or diabetic condition Psychiatric Service Animals – mental illness (major depression, panic attacks) Therapy/Comfort/Companion/Emotional Support Dogs - elderly, mental illness (may not meet definition under ADA, but may under FHA, Air Carrier Access, DOT)

15 Functions Service Animals Perform
Contact EMS in emergency Guiding people with vision impairments Provide stability for mobility & stamina issues items Household tasks – laundry Stand guard/get help Operate light switches/elevator buttons Carrying/Retrieving items Pulling wheelchairs Opening doors Alerting handler of sounds (phone, doorbell, crying infant, alarms, etc...) Alert handler of onset of seizure or symptoms of mental illness Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

16 Health Benefits Service dogs help people overcome the limitations of their disabilities and the barriers in their environments. In 1995, a 2-year study by Dr. Karen Allen, et. al., found that people with disabilities who had service dogs scored higher for psychological well-being, self-esteem, community integration, and the amount of control they could exert over their environment. In addition, the number of personal assistant (human) hours required for care decreased by an average of 78%. This represents significant potential savings in health care costs.

17 Health Benefits cont… Other studies support the findings of improved self-esteem, independence, and social acceptance. Additional research has documented benefits of companion animals: Lowered blood pressure. Moderation of stress. Improved motivation. Decreased serum cholesterol. Mitigation of the effects of loneliness.

18 ADA Factoid A service animal is not a pet.
Not all service dogs will look alike. Many breeds of virtually any type or size of dog is most common service animal you’ll see.

19 Making a determination of service animal status
Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars or harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. A person who has the animal may be asked if it is a service animal required because of a disability. Documentation of a disability generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to a customer with a service animal. Minimal inquiry is best; this acknowledges privacy issues. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, proof of state certification is not required. There is nothing under federal law that requires that a service animal be obvious in its service capacity.

20 Exclusion of Service Animal
A public entity may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if… The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it; or The animal is not housebroken. If an animal is properly excluded, it shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises. Before deciding to exclude the animal, consider and try any available means of mitigating the problem (muzzling a dog that barks frequently, allowing a reasonable amount of time to correct disruptive behavior).

21 ADA Factoid Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform.

22 What about a “no pets” policy?
Service animals would still be allowed in an establishment that does not allow pets because service animals are not considered pets under the law. The no pets policy would have to be modified in this case only.

23 Transportation ADA provides that no entity shall discriminate against an individual with a disability in connection with the provision of transportation service, if the individual is capable of using that service. Transit agencies may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability. Animal should be trained to sit under the passenger’s seat or at their feet. Aisle should remain clear for tripping hazards and so dog isn’t stepped on. In some cases, small service animals may ride on a passenger’s lap; however, service animals should not ride on bus or van seats.

24 What about other laws or local regulations?
Even if, for example the county health department has a regulation that states that seeing eye or guide dogs are the only kind of service animal allowed, the ADA would take precedence over such a regulation as it gives greater protection to people with disabilities.

25 Healthcare Restricted access would be allowed only when it can be demonstrated that the presence or behavior of that particular animal would create a … -a fundamental alteration or -a direct threat to other persons or to the nature of the goods and services provided.

26 Factors in risk Its health & hygiene Behavior & contact with others
Frequency of that contact Environment Ability of its handler to manage behavior Preventative measures (hand-washing) Other accommodations/modifications minimizing risk

27 Specific, stringent requirements for determining “direct threat:”
Significant risk of substantial harm that cannot be eliminated or reduced by a reasonable accommodation A case by case determination A high probability of substantial harm, not slight or speculative Based on facts, not generalizations or fears, stereotypes or paternalism

28 Service Animals – General guidelines
In most cases, service animals are “allowed anywhere you could take another medical device, such as a wheelchair. Service animals should be distinguished from “therapy animals,” “companion animals,” or “emotional support animals.”

29 Medical benefits Healthcare professionals utilize therapy animals as part of a treatment plan, and therapy animals do not have access protections to public places. Emotional support animals “provide companionship, relief from loneliness, and depression;” emotional support animals may be allowed in housing with “no pet” restrictions, but they do not have access to public places.

30 What about maintenance or cleaning fees for owners of service animals?
Neither a deposit or a surcharge may be imposed on a customer with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets.

31 However, A business may charge its customers with disabilities if a service animal causes damage so long as it is regular practice for the business to charge non-disabled customers the same type of damages.

32 Who is responsible for the animal while the person with the disability is in the business?
The care and supervision of the animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. The business entity is not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.

33 What if the service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?
A service animal may be excluded from a business when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. Assumptions cannot be made that a particular animal is likely to behave based on past experience.

34 However, The owner of the service animal should still be allowed on the premises without the service animal.

35 What if the service animal is not dangerous but disruptive to business?
There are only a few circumstances where this might be a reason for excluding a service animal. For example, if a service dog were to bark during a movie.

36 ADA Factoids Allergies and fear of animals are not generally valid reasons for denying access or refusing to serve people with service animals. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology – dog or cat allergies occur in approximately 15% of the population. If the allergy is severe enough to cause impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities, both the person with the allergy and the individual with the service animal are protected by the ADA. If the effects of the allergy do not meet the definition of disability, the ADA does not protect the person with the allergy.

37 Fair Housing Amendments Act
Defines discrimination as a refusal… -to permit reasonable modifications of existing premises or -to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services to afford equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

38 Fair Housing Act (FHA) Does not define “service animal” per se.
No distinction among certified service animals, non-certified animals, animals that provide psychological support, and service animals in training that live with their handler. Does not categorize service animals as “pets.” Therefore, it’s HUD’s position that no deposit may be charged for the service animal. Special tags, certification, equipment cannot be required. Requests for multiple service animals may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

39 Examples… A landlord with a “no pets” policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to have a guide dog in the residence. A person with a mobility impairment may find it difficult to walk a service dog. He and the landlord might work together to identify a mutually agreeable, and accessible, area of the property on which the dog can relieve itself.

40 Therapy/Companion animals are also allowed.
These are animals that assist tenants with disabilities in making more effective use of their housing including, but not limited to, alerting individuals with hearing impairments to intruders or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items or providing emotional support to persons with mental disabilities. HUD uses the term “assistive animal” –very broad definition. Does not require that the animal be trained or certified, just that there be a connection between the person with a disability and the need for such an animal. Emotional support animals haven’t been generally accepted under the ADA, but they are by FHA so landlords must not prohibit them.

41 Three Tests must be met for FHA
The person must have a disability. The animal must serve a function directly related to the person’s disability. The request to have the service animal must be reasonable.

42 Unlawful inquires Asking whether an individual has a disability and the nature or severity of that disability. May not request or require medical records or documentation of disability. However, limited exception is made… -to determine whether an individual qualifies for dwellings available only to persons with a disability. -when particular units are set aside for priority occupancy by individuals with disabilities. -when a person with a disability requests a reasonable accommodation such as a service animal.

43 Rights of Housing Providers
Individuals w/ disabilities are solely responsible for the conduct of their animals, and housing providers may have recourse available if the tenant fails to satisfy this obligation (chewed carpet, repeated barking disturbing residents). However, provider may first be obligated to attempt resolution of the problem before eviction proceedings are initiated. Complaints must be substantiated and not based on speculation. Direct threat to others or violations to animal control laws can be reported to the agency that enforces animal control laws. Some states exempt service animals from some animal control laws.

44 A Few Tips on How to Interact with Service Animals
Don’t pet, call out (bark, meow, or cluck) to, or otherwise distract a working Service Animal. A service animal is “on duty”, even when sitting or lying down. If in a car, don’t honk horn or call out directions. Handlers listen to traffic flow and other environmental cues to decide when it’s safe to cross the street. Dogs read traffic lights. Guide dog teams have the right-of-way. Don’t feed a service animal. Never grab the harness or leash from the handler – you can disorient and confuse the team. Ask before you provide assistance. If you believe someone is in a dangerous situation voice your concern in a calm manner, but do not push, pull or grab the person.

45 Tips continued… Speak to the person, not the dog. Some handlers may allow petting, but always ask first. Educate children that this animal is working and “on duty.” Sometimes a service animal may make a mistake, and a correction is necessary to keep up the training. This could be a verbal reprimand or a leash correction. Most handlers have been taught the proper and humane training techniques to maintain standards. When dogs are not on duty, especially at home, they are very much family dogs – playing with kids, chewing on a (dog-safe) bone or snoozing at their partners feet.

46 Website:
Thanks for attending! Please contact the Northwest ADA Center with any questions about ADA rights and responsibilities: Phone#: (800) (v/TTY) Website: OR Sherri Rita, (503)

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