If you’re wondering about the service dog laws Arkansas, you’ve come to the right place. Service dogs are a unique kind of specially trained working dog that help people with disabilities to live better lives and have better access to public places and other opportunities.
While a federal service dog law does exist through the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act for public access rights and other rights, each state may have their own separate, or additional service dog laws.
People with disabilities who use service animals have a right to whichever of these laws may help them.
In addition, there are separate laws in place for when air travel or housing situations are concerned. This article will discuss all of these laws and how they relate to Arkansas specifically.
Jump to a section:
- Service Dog Arkansas Definition
- Public Access Rights
- Damages Caused by Service Animals
- Purposeful Injuries to Service Animals
- Service Dogs In Training
- Information For Businesses
- Service Animal Control
- Excluding Service Animals
- Service Dogs in K-12 Schools
Service Dog Arkansas Definition
In Arkansas, a service animal is defined as a dog that is trained specifically to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of someone who lives with a disability. This includes:
- A guide dog
- A trained dog that works as a travel assistant for someone who is blind or has a severe visual impairment
- A hearing signal dog, which is a dog trained to alert someone to certain sounds when a person is deaf or has significant hearing loss
- An assistance animal or a dog trained and used to assist someone who lives with a disability
- A seizure alert animal or a dog that has been trained to help someone with a seizure disorder, particularly when a medical event is about to occur, or, to respond to a medical event that has already happened
- A mobility animal, or a dog that is being or has been trained to assist an individual with a disability caused by physical impairments
- A psychiatric service animal, or a dog trained to help someone with a disability to detect the onset of certain psychiatric episodes or effects of psychiatric disabilities, and to lessen the effects of the psychiatric episodes
- A sensory service animal or a dog trained to assist an individual with autism or other sensory disorder
Service Dog Laws Arkansas – Public Access Rights
Any person in Arkansas who has disabilities has the rights to be accompanied by their service animal on public ways, in public places, and in other public accommodations and housing accommodations.
In addition, people with disabilities may not be required to pay an extra fee or charge because of their service animal. This includes people with the following types of disabilities:
- Physical disabilities
- Mental disabilities
- Intellectual disabilities
- Sensory disabilities
Damages Caused by Service Animals
Even though people with disabilities who use service animals in Arkansas may not be charged a fee because of their dog, this doesn’t mean it’s okay for the animal to cause damages.
Someone with a physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory disability who is with their service dog in the public, or in a housing situation, is still liable for any damages that are caused by their animal to any facility or premises.
Purposeful Injuries to Service Animals
Under Arkansas service dog laws, anyone who injures or kills a service animal on purpose will be guilty of a Class D felony.
Class D felonies are the least serious felonies in Arkansas.
They are punishable by up to six years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000. Another example of a Class D felony would be aggravated assault.
Service Dogs In Training In Arkansas
Although the federal ADA service dog laws do not cover service dogs in training, Arkansas service dog laws do include them.
This means that service dogs in training have the same rights as fully trained service dogs. Service dog trainers, when actively training a service dog, must not be charged a fee because of the dog.
But, just like regular service dogs, they can be charged a fee if the dog is responsible for any damages to the premises or facilities.
In addition, service dog trainers when training a service dog must be allowed anywhere the general public can go, including:
- Streets and highways
- Sidewalks and other walkways
- Cars and other motor vehicles
- Railroad train, bus’, streetcars
- Other types of public transportation
- Hotels, motels, and other places of lodging
- Any public government building
- Any building where the general public is allowed to go
- Any other place of public accommodation that the general public is regularly invited or allowed to go
(a) An individual with visual, hearing, or other physical disabilities and his or her guide, signal, or service dog or a dog trainer in the act of training a guide, signal, or service dog shall not be denied admittance to or refused access to the following because of the dog:Arkansas Code
Information For Businesses
Under Arkansas service dog laws, staff at businesses and other entities may not inquire about the use of a service dog if the purpose of the dog is obvious.
For example, when observing a guide dog leading a blind person across the street, it would be pretty obvious that the person clearly needs the dog for guidance.
However, many disabilities are not obvious. Many of them are downright invisible.
In the cases where there are invisible disabilities, and it’s not obvious why someone is using a service dog, staff may only ask two questions to the person using the dog:
1. Is this a service animal required because of a disability?
2. What work or task has the service animal or service dog been trained to perform?
Staff May Not:
- Ask someone about the nature or extent of their disability
- Ask for, or require any kind of medical documentation about the person’s disability
- Require a special identification card
- Require any kind of training documentation (service dogs are not required to receive professional training; people using service dogs may train the dog themselves)
- Ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform its work or task(s)
Service Animal Control
Under Arkansas service dog laws, service animals must be under control of their handler at all times. This means that:
- They must have a harness, leash, or tether
- If a harness, leash, or tether is not an available option due to the nature of the disability, or the service dog’s work, then the service animal must be under voice control, signals, or another type of control
Excluding Service Animals
A business or another entity can request that a service animal be removed from their premises or facility if:
- If the service animal is out of control, and the handler doesn’t take effective actions to control it
- If the service dog isn’t housebroken – i.e. if the service dog “goes to the bathroom” inappropriately
When a business excludes a service animal because of one of the above reasons, the business or staff at the business must still offer the person using the dog the same services, program, or activity without the dog being there.
In other words, excluding the dog does not automatically exclude the person.
Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Service Dogs in K-12 Schools
It is not uncommon that a kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12) student may need the use of a specially trained service dog while at school.
Students who need to use a service animal as an accommodation for their academic program need to submit a written request to the school disability coordinator.
This needs to be done at least 30 days before the student beings using the animal in school.
The school disability coordinator must gather a team to meet with the parent or legal guardian of the student to plan the integration of the service animal into the student’s academic program.
This meeting needs to take place within 10 school days of receipt of the written request, or possibly, after 10 school days of the written request with consent from the parent or legal guardian.
The team shall include, without limitation:
- The school principal or his or her designee
- The school counselor
- At least one teacher of the student
- A school nurse
- The parent or legal guardian of the student (optional)
- The student (if applicable)
If the student has an existing team under either:
- A plan under 29 U.S.C., 794
- Or an individualized education program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
…Then the school disability coordinator will need to meet with the existing team.
Caring For Service Animals in Schools
Under service dog laws Arkansas and under the federal ADA laws, a kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12) school does not have any obligation to hire new staff, or to assign existing staff, to care for a student’s service animal.
In other words, the student must be able to care for their animal.
- Feeding or watering
- Removing the service animal for periodic voiding
- Cleaning up after the animal