Project Chance
Project Chance

Service Dogs and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Know your rights.

The  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal regulation which took  effect March 15, 2011, states simply that a person with a disability  that substantially limits one or more major life activities and can  benefit from a service dog trained to perform tasks to mitigate those  disabilities, has the right to use a service dog for social and  emotional assistance.

Unfortunately, some establishments are  unfamiliar with the legal rights of people with disabilities who have  service dogs and refuse them service or entry. As the summer vacation  season approaches, it is important to understand the law so that your  family and service dog can enjoy access everywhere the public is  welcome.

Under the ADA, state and local governments, businesses,  and nonprofit organizations that serve the public must allow service  animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the  facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a  hospital service dogs are allowed in patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias,  or examination rooms.

When it is not obvious what service a dog provides,staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because  of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to  perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical  documentation, or require a special identification card or training  documentation for the dog.

Sometimes people who have allergies or  a fear of dogs believe that allows them to request a service dog be  removed. However, those are not valid reasons for denying access or  refusing service to people using service dogs. In those situations,  accommodations must be made by assigning them to different locations  within the room or different rooms in the facility.

A person with  a disability cannot be asked to remove his service dog from the  premises unless the dog is out of control or the dog is not housebroken.

Project Chance has created a list to ensure that your family and service dog are welcomed wherever you go.

Public appropriateness

  • Dog is clean, well-groomed and does not have an offensive odor.
  • Dog does not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations.


  • Dog does not solicit attention, visit or annoy any member of the public.
  • Dog does not disrupt the normal course of business.
  • Dog does not vocalize unnecessarily, i.e. barking, growling or whining.
  • Dog shows no aggression towards people or other animals.
  • Dog does not solicit or steal food or other items from the general public.


  • Dog is specifically trained to perform three or more tasks to mitigate aspects of the client's disability.
  • Dog works calmly and quietly onharness, leash or other tether.
  • Dog is able to perform its tasks in public.
  • Dog must be able to lie quietly beside the handler without blocking aisles, doorways, etc.
  • Dog  stays within 24" of its handler at all times unless the nature of a  trained task requires it to be working at a greater distance.

Knowing the facts lets the world be your playground!