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Service Animals and the ADA

A service animal is defined by the ADA as an animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If an animal meets this definition, whether or not the animal has been certified or licensed, it is considered to be a service animal under the ADA, and is subject to ADA requirements. It is important to note that the ADA supercedes state and local laws and regulations.

The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability anywhere that patients are normally permitted to enter. The animal may or may not wear a special harness or collar, and the individual is not required to have documentation of certification and/or training. It is not permissible under the ADA to require proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to enter your facility. It is a violation of the ADA to charge any maintenance or cleaning fees for patients who utilize service animals. Although it is considerate to provide water for the service animal, providing food, water, supervision, and care is the responsibility of the animal's owner.

There may be limited space for the service animal in the dental operatory. It is appropriate to bring space limitations to the attention of the person with a disability, and provide alternatives for the service animal owner. If the owner would prefer that the service animal stay outside the dental operatory for the duration of examination and/or treatment, the owner still remains responsible for the care and supervision of the animal. For answers to additional questions about service animals and other ADA requirements, the Department of Justice has provided a toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

References

Service Animal Information. (1996) Retrieved on November 21, 2005 from http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/animal.htm