Service Dog Laws Connecticut – Epic Guide & FAQ [2022]

Published Categorized as Northeast
Connecticut Service Dog Laws

Service Dog Laws Connecticut – Epic Summary

Welcome to our service dog laws Connecticut guide and FAQ page, updated for 2022.

Service dog laws Connecticut require that a specially trained service dog (sometimes called assistance dog, especially in housing) be allowed to accompany a person with a disability to all public accommodations and public carriers, with a few exceptions. 

There are multiple laws that govern the use of these special animals. Fake service animals are simply pets that people attempt to take into public places, posing as service dogs.

American Cocker Spaniel Service Animal
American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog “Bartek” @bartek_spaniel_wspanialy

In this detailed guide, we’ll go through some of the most common questions about service dogs in the state of Connecticut. This includes where they are allowed in public, housing information, employment, what businesses need to know, plus much more.

Feel free to also read about the federal ADA service dog laws (easy guide, summary & FAQ) or our federal ADA workplace accommodation laws summary.

What Service Dogs Can Do
Service dogs can help people with a wide variety of different visible and invisible disabilities.

In brief, service animals may go with their (legally disabled) handler wherever the public can go. There are a few exceptions, like sterile hospital environments and religious organizations.

Service dogs of any breed may go to malls, restaurants, grocery stores, movie theatres, community centres, schools, buses, taxis, hotelsAirbnb, amusement parks, doctor’s offices, hospitals, trains, and National Parks, just as a few examples.

Jump to a section:

  1. Summary of Service Dog Laws
  2. Registration and Certification
  3. What is the ADA?
  4. Connecticut & ADA Laws
  5. Connecticut Dog Licensing Info
  6. Service Dog Definitions
  7. Work or Tasks
  8. Documentation
  9. Miniature Horses
  10. Therapy Dogs
  11. Fees
  12. Control of Service Animals
  13. Where Does the ADA Apply?
  14. Info For Businesses
  15. Employment
  16. Psychiatric Service Dogs
  17. Training & Service Animals in Training
  18. How To Make Your Dog a Service Dog
  19. Does Connecticut Recognize Emotional Support Animals?
  20. Connecticut ESA Laws

 

 

Service Dog In Training Connecticut
Service Dog in Training “Bishop”

1. Summary of Service Dog Laws

Part of the reason why service dogs can be so confusing is that there are multiple laws around them. Things can seem confusing fast. Here is a summary of the different laws relevant to Connecticut and their main purpose in general.

Blue Heeler Dog
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

In summary:

  • The ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act – is a federal law. It governs the use of service animals when public access rights are concerned. This law is also referred to for housing situations and employment situations with service animals.
  • The FHA – Fair Housing Act – is another federal law that governs the use of service animals – or what is known in this context as “assistance animal” when housing situations are concerned.
  • The ACAA – Air Carrier Access Act – is what is used when service animals will be taking to the skies with their handler. Fully trained service animals are allowed in the cabin of air planes with their handler as long as the meet the ACAA requirements, and fill out any required paperwork or documents prior to their flight.
  • State-specific service animal laws. Even though we have the federal ADA laws, each individual state may or may not have additional or “state-specific” service dog laws for their own area. Check with individual states for anything that may be different from the ADA laws. 
    • A common example is that under the ADA, service dogs in training are not allowed public access rights. However, certain states extend the same rights to service dogs in training, as fully trained animals have
  • Connecticut State Laws
  • Section 504 – is similar to the ADA, and protects the rights of students with disabilities in educational settings.

Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – Summary & FAQ

service dog laws Connecticut
Border Collies @celestialbordercollies

2. Registration & Certification

The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in Connecticut or any other state in the U.S. Service dogs are protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition, there is no state registration system in place for Connecticut.

Registration and certification done online from non-government websites does not convey any legal rights under the ADA or the Department of Justice. Buying a piece of paper from the internet does not turn a dog into a service dog. 

Service Animal Registration Not Necessary
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Service Animal registration and/or certification are simply not required for public access rights. A legitimate federal or state system does not exist.

3. What is the ADA?

The ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is a federal wide-ranging civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination based on disability.

Under the ADA, the following “covered entities” that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the business or facility where the public is normally invited or allowed to go.

  • Businesses
  • State governments
  • Local governments
  • Nonprofit organizations
Psychiatric service dog Connecticut
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

4. Connecticut State Laws & The ADA

Connecticut law requires businesses and other public accommodations to permit people who are blind, deaf, or mobility impaired to use service dogs.

The ADA has similar provisions, but it covers a wider range of disabilities. Some of these include mental and psychiatric disabilities.

Proof of Service Animal

Connecticut service dog laws do not require someone using a service dog to prove that the purpose of the service dog is to help with disabilities. People with disabilities are permitted the protections allowed to people using service dogs.

Connecticut service dog laws
Goldendoodle Medical Alert Service Dog “Koda” @thatlilbearkoda

5. Connecticut Dog Licensing Info

Dog Licensing, Dog Health and Control of Dogs

Dog owners in Connecticut need to be aware of the rules and regulations about dog ownership in Connecticut. Service dogs, under the ADA laws, are not exempt from local or state dog licensing laws.

If all dogs require a license, then service dogs do, too. However, forcing a service dog to be licensed as a service dog merely because it is a service dog is prohibited by the ADA.

Service Dog GoldenDoodle Connecticut
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piper
  1. Dogs six months of age or older must be licensed in Connecticut. 
    Download Dog License Application (in Spanish)* or Dog License Application (in English)*. *NOTE: This application must be mailed to your Town Clerk, with fees and required documents.
  2. All dogs three months of age or older and must be vaccinated against rabies. Rabies vaccinations need to be kept current.  
  3. No dog under 8 weeks old can be sold or imported into Connecticut without its dam.
  4. Dogs imported into Connecticut that are over 3 months of age and staying more than 30 days need to have a health certificate. And, a current rabies vaccination certificate.
  5. Dogs imported into Connecticut between the age of 8 weeks and 3 months, and staying more than 30 days, must be accompanied by a health certificate.
  6. All dogs must be under control and must not be allowed to run at large.
  7. It is illegal to transport a dog in the back of a pick-up truck… unless the dog is secured in a cage, container or otherwise secured. 
  8. Breeders of two or more litters of dogs per year must apply for a “town kennel license”.
service dog laws Connecticut
Tandem Medical Alert and Response Service Dogs @cricket_n_saraphena

6. Service Dog Definitions

Since there are different service animal definitions depending on context, we’ll go through the different ones right now. As you’ll see, they are similar, but the differences are important to understand.

The ADA Service Animal Definition for Public Access Rights

The federal ADA law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in:

  • Employment
  • State and local government
  • Public accommodations
  • Commercial facilities
  • Transportation
  • Telecommunications
  • United States Congress

Under the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act federal laws, “Service animal means any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for purposes of this definition.”

The work or tasks that the dog does must be directly related to a specific person’s disability. In addition, the work or tasks must help to mitigate at least some of the effects of that disability.

It’s important to note that while dogs are the only animal defined here, there is a separate ADA provision for the use of a miniature horse as a service animal.

Siberian Husky Service Dog
Syncope Alert Service Dog “Kylie’s Lucy On Duty” @lucytheservicesibe

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) Definition of Assistance Animal

Under the FHA, “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.”

service animals are not pets
Service animals are not pets – they are working animals – even though they might look like pets, kind of like this flaming sun and juicy orange.
Service dog laws Connecticut
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

The Air Carrier Access Act Definition of Service Animal

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.

Read more: American Airlines Service Dog Info – The Easy Guide

English Conversation About Law
English Conversation About Law
Psychiatric Service Dog Air Plane
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

7. Service Animal Work or Tasks

The work or tasks done by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability. The training must be specific to the person using the animal. A service animal is not a pet.

The disability could be:

  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Psychiatric
  • Intellectual
  • Or another mental disability

The tasks or work done by the animal may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Helping to guide someone who is visually impaired or blind
  • Alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Helping someone with mobility or balance
  • Alerting others and protecting someone having a seizure
  • Retrieving objects
  • Bringing attention to the presence of allergens
  • Providing physical support and help with balance and stability to someone with a mobility disability
  • Helping someone with a psychiatric or neurological disability by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors and/or patterns
  • Reminding someone living with a mental illness to take their prescribed medications
  • Calming someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack
  • Doing other specific work or performing other special tasks
  • SSigDOG are Sensory Signal Dogs or Social Signal Dogs. These are a service dog that has been trained to assist someone with autism. The service dog typically alerts their human handler to distracting repetitive movements which are common with people living with autism. This allows the person to stop the movement.
  • Psychiatric Service Dogs are a type of service dog that has been trained to perform “work” or “tasks” that help people with psychiatric disabilities to detect the onset of certain, specific episodes and lessen their effects.
  • Seizure Response Dogs are a type of service dogs that are trained to help somebody who has a seizure disorder. How the dog serves the person will depend on individual needs. The seizure response service dog might do a variety of tasks, such as stand guard over their human during a seizure to keep the person safe, or the dog might go and get help.
    • A few dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance to sit down or move to a safe place, but it seems like this can’t reliably be trained in just any dog.

Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus)

Siberian Husky service dog in training Connecticut
Siberian Husky Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @the.borealis.pack

8. Documentation

  • There is no formal service animal certification process or paperwork that is recognized by Connecticut or the federal government
  • Having said that, air carriers (airlines), employers, and housing providers such as landlords may require certain and specific documentation
  • Documentation may not be required for public access as a condition of entry (prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act).
Medical Alert Service Dog Connecticut
Medical Alert Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphena

The following items are not required for an animal to qualify as a service dog:

  • Service dog vest
  • Service dog markings of any kind
  • Documentation
Service Dog Connecticut
Multipurpose Working K9 “Remmi” @working.collie.remmi

Vests, service dog markings, and service dog documentation can not be used as a reliable indication of whether an animal is legally a service dog.

therapy dog/animal, emotional support animal, or another animal wearing a vest or having a special marking, does not make these types of dogs a service animal.

9. Miniature Horses

Technically speaking, only dogs are service animals under the federal ADA definition for public access rights. Other species of animal, whether that be wild animals or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of the ADA.

Service animals may or may not be other types of animals in terms of housing and employment situations. But for now, let’s talk about public access rights.

Even though dogs are the only service animal defined by the ADA, there is a separate provision in the ADA that does cover miniature horses.

Mini Service Horse
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @flirty.the.mini.service.horse

What this means is that a miniature horse that has been trained to do work or tasks for a specific disability shall have the same rights as service dogs wherever possible.

Businesses and other covered entities need to provide access for miniature horses whenever possible. Reasonable modifications need to be made in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by person with a disability.

Mini Service Horse
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @flirty.the.mini.service.horse

There are additional assessment factors for miniature horses

To determine whether to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, the business will need to consider the following:

  • The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features safely
  • Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse
  • Whether the miniature horse is housebroken
  • Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation
service mini horse
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @flirty.the.mini.service.horse

10. Therapy Dogs

Let’s just briefly discuss what therapy dogs are and aren’t, since many people aren’t sure and it can be confusing as there are so many amazing types of dogs in the world! Lucky humans we are indeed.

A therapy dog is not a service dog, and that’s because therapy dogs aren’t trained to do “work or tasks” for an individual’s disability. Plain and simple.

What is a therapy dog
Therapy dogs are not considered service dogs.

A therapy dog is usually someone’s pet that enjoys meeting a large number of different people in different settings.

The people who are fortunate enough to spend time with a therapy dog receive great benefits, such as reduced anxiety and added joy.

They often visit places such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other settings where the stress in people may likely be high.

Therapy Dogs
Therapy Dog “Eddie” with “Boomer” @eddieandboomer

11. Service Animal Fees

Fees, extra charges, or pet deposits may not be charged for service animals. This is true whether we are talking about the ADA, ACAA, FHA, or Connecticut laws.

A service animal is not considered a pet. Someone using a service animal must not be turned away or denied access because of a “no pets” rule or policy.

In the case where a public entity usually charges people for damage caused by an animal or pet, a person with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by their service animal.

Service Dog
Service Dog “Kodiak” @dog.human.duo

12. Control of Service Animals

  • Service animals must be under control at all times & should not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others
  • Service animals must comply with state and local animal control laws

Service animals should be kept at a person’s side quietly, unless they are performing a specific task.

Service animals must be leashed, harnessed, or tethered unless this may interfere with the service animals’ work. Or, if a disability prevents using them. In those cases, service animals still need to be controlled through voice, hand signals, or another effective way.

Labrador service animal
Canadian Multipurpose Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelle

13. Where Does the ADA Apply?

  • Places of public accommodation which include…
  • Places of lodging
  • Places serving food or drink
  • Places of entertainment
  • Places of public gathering
  • Sales or rental establishments
  • Service establishments
  • Stations used for specified public transportation
  • Places of public display or collection
  • Places of recreation
  • Places of education
  • Social service center establishments
  • Places of exercise or recreation
  • Public services, programs, and activities, which include: schools, and state and local government offices
  • Public transportation
  • Private transportation, like Greyhound bus service
  • The workplace
  • Airport terminals
Border Collie Service Dog Connecticut USA
Border Collie Service Dog @celestialbordercollies

14. Info for Businesses

It’s obviously important for businesses and other “covered entities” to be aware of service dog laws Connecticut as well as the federal laws. If not, they could be accused of discrimination.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the following:

  • Asking about a disability
  • Requiring medical documentation
  • Requiring a special identification card or training documentation for the dog (or mini horse)
  • Ask that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task
  • Charge an extra fee because of the animal
  • Segregate the customer with a disability from other customers

Permitted Questions to Ask

If the reason for the service dog is obvious, then businesses and other covered entities may not inquire about the use of the animal.

When it’s not obvious – and many disabilities are invisible – businesses may only ask two questions to someone using a service dog. That’s it. By the way, service dogs can be any breed, even breeds that have been locally banned.

The questions are:

(1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

(2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Medical Alert Service Dog South Carolina
Medical Alert Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphena

15. Employment

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against disabled people in employment situations. In addition, it requires reasonable accommodation at the employee’s request.

Allowing someone with a disability to bring their service animal into the workplace environment is a form of reasonable accommodation.

As with any accommodation request, the employer must consider allowing the use of a service animal at work unless doing so poses an undue hardship, or could disrupt the workplace environment.

Note that an employee may also request that an employer allow a companion animal or emotional support animal in the workplace as an accommodation. Reasonable requests in this situation are not restricted to dogs only.

Read more: Federal ADA Workplace Accommodation Guide

Husky Service Dog South Carolina
“Kylie’s Lucy On Duty” (Lucy) Service Dog @lucytheservicesibe

16. Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric service dogs are a type of service dog that perform work or tasks related to psychiatric disabilities.

A few examples of these types of disabilities include:

  • Eating disorders
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression

Here are a few examples of some psychiatric service dog tasks:

  • Providing reminders to take medication at a certain time
  • Service dogs can lay across their handler and apply pressure (Deep Pressure Therapy) during a panic attack, for example
  • Provide tactile stimulation or grounding
  • Interrupting dissociative episodes or other repetitive or problematic behaviours
  • Alerting the handler to rage or other types of strong emotions
  • Interrupting self-harming behaviours
  • Retrieve an item, such as a water bottle and medication for a panic attack
  • Wake someone up from a nightmare
  • Interrupting flashbacks
  • Searching the house or home to ensure it’s clear and safe before the handler enters
  • Providing a “reality check” to help with hallucinations
  • Stabilizing a routine for someone

Read more: Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks – 17 Examples

The difference between psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs is simplePsychiatric service dogs are trained to do at least one task for a specific person’s disability, and the task is related to the disability.

Emotional support animals are not task-trained like this, and provide comfort and other benefits by their presence alone. Emotional support animals are not service dogs, but they do have some rights when it comes to housing and employment situations.

psychiatric Service Dog
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

17. Training & Service Animals in Training (SDiT) in Connecticut

Service dogs do not need to be trained by a professional service dog training program, or professional trainer (under the ADA laws). But, they do need to be trained by somebody.

Tiny service dog in training Connecticut
Service Dog in Training “Bishop”

Many people train their dog by themselves or with some help, as many service animal programs have limited resources and long waiting lists.

Under the federal ADA laws, service animals in training do not get the same public access rights as fully trained service animals.

But, most states have some kind of state laws that allow service animals in training some kind of public access rights.

Read more: Service Animal In Training – U.S. State Guide

Service Dog in Training Connecticut
“Kylie’s Where I Go, You Go” (Hugo) Service Dog In Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe
Connecticut service animal in training laws

Connecticut State Laws cover the use of service animals in training, and service animals in training have the same rights as fully trained service animals or service dogs. The following is a quote from Connecticut state law.

“(a) It shall be a discriminatory practice in violation of this section: 

Any blind, deaf or mobility impaired person or any person training a dog as a guide dog for a blind person or a dog to assist a deaf or mobility impaired person may keep his guide dog or assistance dog with him at all times in such place of public accommodation, resort or amusement at no extra charge, provided the dog wears a harness or an orange-colored leash and collar and is in the direct custody of such person.” Connecticut Code

Medical Alert Service Dog Connecticut
Medical Alert Service Dog “Koda” @thatlilbearkoda
Service Dog Labrador
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

18. How Do I Make My Dog a Service Dog in Connecticut?

Stop making that sound so easy! To make your dog a service dog in Connecticut, you must have a disability, and a disability-related need for the animal. Start your service dog training journey, and work on having your dog learn how to act properly in public, with basic socialization and obedience training, and performing specific tasks that mitigate the effect(s) of your disability. There are different avenues for getting a service animal.

Even though service animals do not need to be professionally trained by an organization or school, they do need to be trained for your disability. This is not usually an easy task, and many people need at least some help.

It’s also important to note that not just any dog can become a service dog. Dogs are like people and have individual personalities. Some personalities do great with working; others just don’t. Some dogs truly just can’t focus, don’t listen, or want to only play all day.

Read more: Service Dog Training Basics & FAQ

Autism service dog
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piper

19. Does Connecticut Recognize Emotional Support Animals?

No, Connecticut does not recognize emotional support animals (ESAs) for public access rights as it does service animals. Emotional support animals can be denied access to public places. However, it’s good to note that ESAs may have rights when it comes to a reasonable request in a housing or employment situation, under the federal FHA (Fair Housing Act) and/or ADA laws.

Shepsky Service Dog
Willow The Shepsky Service Dog @the_working_willow

The ADA Is Similar

“While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.

“Even though some states have laws defining therapy animals, these animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities and therefore are not covered by federal laws protecting the use of service animals.  Therapy animals provide people with therapeutic contact, usually in a clinical setting, to improve their physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning.” – Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network

multipurpose service dog
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedog

20. Connecticut Emotional Support Animal Laws

In Connecticut, emotional support animals are governed by various laws. Here are some facts about CT emotional support animal laws in different contexts.

Housing

  • Emotional support animals (ESAs) are not automatically exempt from a housing provider’s no-pet policies 
  • Someone with a disability can request a “reasonable accommodation” for an ESA in a housing situation, and housing providers need to be accommodating, unless they can show that allowing an ESA would be an undue burden on its operations
  • ESA’s do not need to be specially trained in order to qualify for a reasonable accommodation for a housing situation
  • Animals other than dogs may also function as emotional support, therapy or assistance animals in housing situations under the Fair Housing Act (I believe that is why ESAs are called “ assistance animals,” not “service dogs” under this Act)

Payment / fees

  • Payment may be required for any specific damage done to a premises by an ESA
  • It is illegal to charge someone with a disability an extra fee to keep a guide or service dog or an emotional support, therapy or assistance animal (ESA)

Air travel

Public access rights

  • Emotional support animals are not covered by the ADA for public access rights, so they can be denied access to public places, although individual businesses may vary
  • ESAs can still visit “pet-friendly” public accommodations with their handler

Employment

  • ESAs can be requested as a reasonable accommodation in an employment situation under the Americans with Disabilities Act

ESA Registration

  • Emotional support animals do not need to be registered or have for any reason. No legitimate ESA registration system exists. Websites selling ESA papers online are not recognized by the Department of Justice nor the ADA, and purchasing one of those piece of papers from the internet does not give someone any special rights. What is needed for housing and/or employment is a letter from a doctor or other medical professional merely stating the animal is required

Read more:

Reference:

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By Sam Nelson

Sam is an experienced writer, advocate for people with disabilities and mental health, dog lover, artist, philosopher, and generally complicated human being.