DOJ Issues FAQ - July 2015
UPDATE 07/20/15: On July 20, 2015, the Department of Justice issued an FAQ about service animals and the ADA. To our dismay, the DOJ essentially ignored the massive amount of press that has accumulated since 2010 regarding service dog fraud and failed to take any action against the online sellers of fake service dog identification. Moreover, to the delight of the many abusing the ADA, the DOJ clarified that individuals with disabilities may use more than one service dog.
Enjoy a future bus or subway ride with two fake service pit bulls in the seat behind you!
07/23/10: ADA Revisions Signed
Washington D.C. - On July 23, 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder signed the final regulations revising the Department’s American with Disabilities Act (ADA). These revisions began during the Bush administration. Persons who continue to insist that a monkey, iguana or other creature is a "service animal" may only do so for about another year-and-a-half. Under the revised rules, a service animal only applies to dogs and qualifying miniature horses (See: Section (i) of § 35.136).
Definition of a Service Animal
"Service animal means 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."
"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."
The failure of the new ADA revisions is that no certified training or licensing (documentation) for a service dog is required. Despite this, and/or in light of this, non-government funded websites, such as, Bring Your Dog Anywhere and the National Service Animal Registry exist to provide such documentation for a fee.1 In true Internet "shopping cart" style, via a few mouse clicks and a payment, a dog owner can register his pet as a service dog and receive an identification kit.
"Skirters" of the Law Benefit
The lack of certified training or licensing will continue to cause confusion amongst public and private entities regarding, "What is an authentic service animal?" As recently demonstrated by pet iguana owner Wayne Short, who registered his iguana with the National Service Animal Registry after authorities banned the animal, city officials are confused. The revised ADA regulations will at least clarify that iguanas cannot be service animals. But what about dogs who supposedly qualify?
Removal of a Service Animal
While it is possible for the owner of any dog to call it's pet a service animal due to the lack of requiring certified training and licensing, there are some exclusion factors. Exceptions (1) and (2) will eventually snag non-legitimate service animal owners. Our concern at DogsBite.org is the "confusion loophole" left in the revised ADA regulations and that owners of pit bulls and other potentially dangerous dogs will take advantage of it by flashing an ID card purchased online.2
§ 35.136 Service Animals
(a) General. Generally, a public entity shall modify its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.
(b) Exceptions. A public entity may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:
(1) The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it; or
(2) The animal is not housebroken.
(f) Inquiries. A public entity shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A public entity may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public entity shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, a public entity may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability)."
2In August 2009, Isaiah Kalebu, showed up in a King County courtroom with his pit bull service animal. Officials allowed the dog because they believed they had to under the ADA.
02/11/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: 'Visiting' Child Killed by PTSD Service Dog in Kentucky
09/27/10: 'Fully Vetted' Pit Nutters and Their Service Dogs
02/05/09: Pit Bull "Service Dog" Kicked Off American River College Campus
07/20/08: Service and Therapy Animals: Changes to the ADA