Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
Many people, including health care professionals and other service providers, may be unsure of how to interact with an individual with a disability using a service animal. This fact sheet is intended to provide policy guidance when interacting with an individual using a service animal, with a particular emphasis on the health care setting during a disaster or emergency.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has developed the following definition of Service Animals: Service animals are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.
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 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, health care facilities must permit the use of a service animal by a person with a disability, including during a public health emergency or disaster.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document does not constitute legal advice.
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