The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), along with other federal legislation and many state laws, brought new protections regarding the use of service dogs by people with disabilities. But how does the law distinguish between a service dog and other kinds of dogs, and is the use of certain breeds of dog protected while the use of other breeds is not?
Sniffing Out the Differences: Service Dogs vs. Other Dogs
The sections of the federal regulations applying to service animals for public entities and for places of public accommodations (Title II and Title III of the ADA, which can be found at 28 C.F.R. § 35.104 and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104, respectively) both define service animal in the same way: any dog 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. The work or task performed by the service animal has to be directly related to the handler’s disability and may (the use of the term “may” strongly, if not conclusively, suggests that the list is not exclusive) include: