Are there laws that protect individuals with disabilities and their service dogs?

Yes, in the United States, there are both federal and state laws that mandate access for Service Dogs.

Public Accommodations

Section 36.302(c) of the The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) requires public accommodations generally to modify policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate the use of service animals in places of public accommodation.

Place of public accommodation means a facility, operated by a private entity, whose operations affect commerce and fall within at least one of the following categories:

  • Places of lodging
  • Establishments serving food or drink
  • Places of exhibition or entertainment
  • Places of public gathering
  • Sales or rental establishments
  • Service establishments
  • Stations and facilities used for specified public transportation
  • Places of public display or collection
  • Places of recreation
  • Places of education
  • Social service center establishments
  • Places of exercise or recreation

Section 36.104 of the ADA defines a service animal as

“any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.”

According to Wisconsin State Statute 106.52:

“No person may refuse to permit entrance into, or use of, or otherwise deny the full and equal enjoyment of any public place of accommodation or amusement to a person with a disability or to a service animal trainer because the person with a disability or the trainer is accompanied by a service animal; charge a person with a disability or a service animal trainer a higher price than the regular rate, including a deposit or surcharge, for the full and equal enjoyment of any public place of accommodation or amusement because the person with a disability or the trainer is accompanied by a service animal; or directly or indirectly publish, circulate, display, or mail any written communication that the communicator knows is to the effect that entrance into, or use of, or the full and equal enjoyment of any of the facilities of the public place of accommodation or amusement will be denied to a person with a disability or a service animal trainer because the person with a disability or the trainer is accompanied by a service animal or that the patronage of a person with a disability or a service animal trainer is unwelcome, objectionable, or unacceptable because the person with a disability or the trainer is accompanied by a service animal.”

Airline Access and Housing

The first Federal legislation to directly address public access rights of people with disabilities who have service animals was the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. The act amended the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 to provide that prohibitions of discrimination against handicapped people apply to air carriers. Regulations clarify that air carriers must permit “dogs and other service animals used by handicapped people to accompany the people on a flight.” As a result of these 1986 stipulations regarding air transport, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act does not reference air carriers in its Title II and III transportation requirements.

Dog License Tax Exemptions in Wisconsin (Chapter 174.055: Exemptions of dogs for blind, deaf, and mobility impaired)

“Every dog specially trained to lead blind or deaf persons or to provide support for mobility-impaired persons is exempt from the dog license tax and every person owning such a dog shall receive annually a free dog license from the local collecting officer upon application.”