Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples include guiding a person who is blind, alerting a person who is deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, and calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an attack of anxiety. Many more tasks and duties also apply.
Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. (Thus, Helping Paws service dogs who work with someone who has a disability or a veteran with PTSD qualify within ADA guidelines. Dogs trained as Facility Dogs do not qualify.)
The ADA definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act. Some state and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from each state attorney general.
Read more about the rights of service animals and questions about service animals in places of business.
In Minnesota, the access privileges of Assistance Dogs are also granted through laws passed by the Minnesota Legislature. A service dog-in-training is granted the same access privileges as a fully trained Assistance Dog. Trainers can work with their dogs in realistic settings before they are placed with people who have disabilities.
Additional information on Minnesota state laws includes: