Service Animals

There have been staff at institutions who have denied access to visitors because they were accompanied by a service animal. Attached is an informational sheet you may want to share with staff to educate them on the appropriate protocol of service animals.

Service Animals Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Service Animal?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a “service animal” as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability, including but not limited to guiding individuals with impaired vision, alert individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items. While most service animals are dogs, people sometimes train moneys, cats and other small animals to perform these valuable services.

What if other visitors object to the animal? What if they have allergies or religious objections?
First, explain to the visitor that the law requires you to allow service animals access and because unlike “pets,” these animals perform vital tasks for their disabled owners. Second, explain that these animal are highly trained to behave properly in public, and are as clean and healthy as most people. Third, you can offer to move the objecting visitor (NOT the disabled visitor) to another part of the visiting room, if he or she would be more comfortable.

What if a service animal growls at or bites another visitor or staff?
If a service animal becomes aggressive or destructive, you have the right to ask that the service animal be removed from the premises.

How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?
Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of disability. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

Questions You May Ask

  • Is your animal a service animal?
  • What tasks have the animal been trained to perform?

Questions You May NOT Ask

  • Does your animal have an ID card?
  • Has your animal been certified as a service animal?
  • What is your disability?

Is the CDCR responsible for the animal during the visit or required to provide special services to the service animal, such as food or water?
No. The care or supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. CDCR is not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal. The law only requires that the service animals and their owners are allowed access to any areas where “customers” are normally allowed. In fact, most disabled guests would prefer that you not feed or in any way distract their service animals.

Can I designate a specific area in the visiting room for visitors accompanied by service animals?
The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where visitors are normally permitted to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other visitors.

What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?
You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards staff or visitors may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal based on your personal experiences. Each situation must be considered individually.

If you have additional questions concerning the ADA and service animals, please call the ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY) or visit the ADA Business Connection at (http://www NULL.ada

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