Can a Pitbull Be a Service Dog?
The answer is yes, absolutely. Pitbulls can be service dogs. And although there are various service dog laws, depending on various contexts, none of them restrict certain breeds such as Pitbulls from service dog work. This is true even if a particular breed has been banned by a community.
Pitbulls can absolutely be service dogs. Businesses, housing providers, and other public entities may not deny access to someone with a disability because their service dog happens to be a Pitbull. Let’s take a look at the actual laws.
Various service dog laws
There are multiple service dog laws and this can be confusing. The most common service dog laws to know about are:
- The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA)
- Individual State service dog laws
- The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act – Pitbulls
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas. These include employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services. According to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs can be any breed, and this includes Pitbulls.
- The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service dogs
- A service dog can not be excluded based on assumptions or stereotypes about the breed or how the animal might behave
- City, towns, counties, or municipalities that prohibit specific breeds of dogs must make an exception for a service animal of a prohibited breed, such as a Pitbull
A service dog can be excluded if:
- It behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
- It has a history of posing a direct threat to the health or safety of others
- It is not under the control of the service dog handler
Even in cities or other areas where some breeds are banned, a service animal may be any breed of dog. In fact, service animals may not be excluded due to generalized fear of the breed. There are a couple of circumstances when a service animal can be excluded, but generalized fear is not one of them. The decision to exclude a service animal must be based on actual behavior.Americans with Disabilities Act – Service Animal Resource Hub
In other words…
- Federally, businesses may not deny access to Pitbull service dogs; otherwise, discrimination against someone with a disability may occur
- This includes places such as malls, grocery stores, movie theatres, restaurants, banks, and anywhere else the public is allowed or invited to go
The Fair Housing Act – Pitbulls
According to HUD Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity Notice on Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable
Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act (Jan. 28, 2020), “housing providers may not limit the size of a dog used as a service animal just because of the size or breed” of that animal.
“Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal.”Justice.gov
The Fair Housing Act definition of “assistance animal”
An assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person’s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet.U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Air Carrier Access Act – Pitbulls
According to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), service dogs can be any breed. The ACAA is relevant whenever someone with a disability will be flying with their service dog. Service dogs of any breed may fly in the aircraft cabin with their handler.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) a service animal means a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Animal species other than dogs, emotional support animals, comfort animals, companionship animals, and service animals in training are not service animals.U.S. Department of Transportation
Cities with pitbull bans:
- Denver, Colorado: Denver had one of the most well-known pit bull bans in the U.S. Pit bulls were banned in the city and county of Denver, and they were subject to seizure and euthanasia if found within city limits.
- Miami-Dade County, Florida: Pit bull breeds were banned in Miami-Dade County, and owning them could result in fines and the removal of the dog.
- Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha had a pit bull ban in place, and pit bull owners were required to meet certain conditions to keep their dogs within city limits.
- Council Bluffs, Iowa: This city had restrictions on pit bulls, requiring owners to adhere to certain rules and regulations.
- Kansas City, Missouri: Kansas City had breed-specific regulations that affected pit bulls and other breeds deemed dangerous.
Reference & Related:
- Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development – Assistance Animals
- Air Carrier Access Act
- ADA Service Dog Laws – Jumbo Public Places Pamphlet
- Service Dog Laws by U.S. State