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Service Animals

For Service Animals:

Pet Travel with a Service AnimalDEFINITION OF A SERVICE ANIMAL: (Guide Dogs, Leader Dogs and Signal Dogs). A service animal is defined as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal including cats and monkeys individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for them selves. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

Animals that alert or respond to a disability related need or emergency such as seizure, extreme social anxiety or panic attack can be qualified as a service animal provided that you have documentation from a medical professional.

SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS: Are generally allowed under the same rules as service animals but ONLY if they are being transported to a search and rescue emergency.

GUIDE DOGS IN TRAINING: Service animals being trained to assist people with disabilities are generally allowed. The service animal must be traveling with his/her trainer and the trainer must provide a letter written on the training school's letterhead stating "the animal is training to assist a person with a disability". Animals simply being transported to its new owner DO NOT qualify.

COMFORT & MEDICAL SUPPORT ANIMALS: These are pets that provide emotional support for the owner. They normally qualify if you can provide certification from a treating medical professional that the owner is being treated for a mental health disability and that it is necessary that you be accompanied by the animal. Comfort animals receive the same accommodation as do service dogs on flights of US flagged carriers and on many foreign carriers as well.

RULES THAT GOVERN THE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEDGES OF SERVICE ANIMALS: Americans with Disabilities Act passed in July 26, 1990 . The ADA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public businesses.

However, it is important to note that the airlines follow the Air Carrier Access Act - a law in which requirements for emotional support animals are different than they are for service dogs. Prior notice is required as is a statement of need from a licensed doctor who treats emotional disorders.

THERAPY DOGS who provide comfort and companionship to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions DO NOT qualify as Service Animals.

COMPANION DOGS that provide comfort to the sick and elderly DO NOT qualify as service animals.

People are only allowed to ask those with service dogs 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.

AIRLINES- TRAINS - TAXIS - BUSES - CRUISE SHIPS: Although animals are not generally allowed in a taxi, train, bus or on cruise ships service animals must be allowed. Transportation such as Trains, Taxis, Buses and Airlines require that the pet ride at the owner's feet.

FEES AND CHARGES: Normally a qualifying animal will be allowed to enter the premises of a business or accompany its owner on public transportation at no extra charge. However, if the owner has more than one qualifying animal there may be a charge for the second animal.

QUALIFYING AS A SERVICE ANIMAL: An animal that is providing a service to a disabled customer will be allowed and should not be charged a fee. The business or transportation company will look for physical indicators on the animal including harnesses, vests, capes or backpacks. The markings on these items should identify the animal as a service animal. In some cases, documentation may be required to prove certificatation.

They will seek verbal assurances from the customer and ask questions such as:. "Is this your pet?" or "What tasks or functions does this animal perform for you?" or "What has it been trained to do?" If you can provide a reasonable explanation of how the animal was trained or how it performs the function for which it is being used it will generally be accepted however, you may be asked for certification papers verifying the training the animal has received.

NOTE: This information primarily applies to travel in the United States as rules on service animals vary from country to country. Many countries do not recognize service animals/


Service Animals must be permitted into any privately owned businesses that serves the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities.

The law requires all businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, you may call the U.S. Department of Justice's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

*NOTE: In certain cases monkeys, cats and even miniature horses may qualify as service animals; however, the airlines may not permit in-cabin transport of service animals other than cats and dogs. Additionally, there may be restrictions if the service animal is recognized as a dangerous breed.

To order a 28 page instruction booklet on traveling with a service animal, visit the Pet Travel Store.

The FAA rules and comments can be found here:

Service animal relief areas in airports