The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples include guiding the blind, alerting the deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who’s having a seizure, reminding a mentally ill person to take prescribed medications, calming someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets – and the task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide therapy through comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has compiled a helpful Service Animals Laws Comparison Chart that should be of interest to all employers. Although the chart compares how the ADA and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) match up with California state laws, the federal information alone is helpful.
For more information on the difference between ADA support animals and companion animals, go to http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm or http://www.iaadp.org/iaadp-ada-training-requirements.html.
For more information on the contents of this newsletter, please contact your attorney or Employer Advisors Network, Inc., a resource for employment law attorneys, insurance agencies, and their clients (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.employeradvisorsnetwork.com).