Essential Information About Service Dogs & Service Dog Laws in the State of Georgia


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In Georgia, a person with a disability – someone who is blind, has a visual disability, is deaf, or has another physical disability – who is accompanied by a service dog has rights under the law.

 

Public facilities, as well as common transportation carriers, are required to admit and assist the person. This also includes dogs-in-training who are accompanied by a trainer for training purposes. The trainer must be identified as an employee/agent of a school for a service dog, guide dog, hearing or seeing eye dog.

 

Further, the law requires that in the case of a disaster, service animals are provided with transportation, temporary shelter, and evacuation if necessary.

 

People with service dogs can not be charged extra fees due to their dog. However, if their dog causes damages, the dog user is liable.

 

If, for some reason, a service dog poses a direct threat to the health and safety of other people; of if he is out of control and/or not housebroken, like growling or lunging at people for example, the dog can be asked to leave.

 

  • People with disabilities and their service dogs also have legal rights to full and equal access to housing.  This includes access to renting, leasing, and purchasing of houses/homes
  • *Service animals are exempt from pet deposits. Service animals are not pets. 
  • Even a property with a ‘no animals’ policy must allow a person with a disability who uses a service dog to keep the dog
  • The only exception is single family homes where the occupants lease, rent or furnish for compensation only one room.
  • People with disabilities must not be charged extra because of their dog
  • In the case that there are any damages caused by the service dog, this will become the responsibility of the person using the animal

 

Definition of Service Animal under the ADA

 

A service animal means any dog that is 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. Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button.

Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA.

ADA Service Animals BookletOpens in a new tab.

 

ADA & Housing Laws Are Different

 

This means that while a person with a service dog is allowed access to basically any other place that the general public may be invited, the same can not be said for people who have an emotional support dog, comfort animal, or therapy dog with them. 

Establishments might allow these animals, but they are not required to by law, since the animal has not been specifically trained for a specific individual to perform a specific task. However, the rules are different in regard to housing situations.  Emotional support animals, therapy dogs and comfort dogs may be allowed into housing situations pending a written doctor’s note.

Emotional support animals that do not qualify as service animals under the ADA may nevertheless qualify as reasonable accommodations under the FHA (Fair Housing Act).

Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing ActOpens in a new tab.

 

So, where are service dogs allowed?

 

Under the law, a person with a disability does not have to be separated from their service dog when they are using a public service or public facility.  This means they are allowed to go most anywhere that the general public is normally allowed or invited to go.

 

This is fairly self explanatory, however here are some examples:

 

  • hotels and other lodging establishments
  • public transportation terminals, depots, and stations
  • restaurants and other places that serve food and drink
  • sales or rental establishments
  • service establishments
  • any place of public gathering, such as an auditorium or convention center
  • places of entertainment and exhibit, like theaters or sports stadiums
  • gyms, bowling alleys, and other places of exercise or recreation
  • recreational facilities, such as zoos and parks
  • libraries, museums, and other places where items are collected or displayed publicly
  • educational institutions
  • social service centres

 

Proof of Certification Not Required by Law

 

Certified

People with disabilities are not required under the law to show proof of certification for their service dog.

Public establishments may only ask two things to a person with a disability using  a service dog, and those are:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What type of work is the dog trained to perform?

 

Establishments May Not:

  • ask about the person’s disability
  • require medical documentation
  • require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog
  • ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task

 

Housing

Blind persons, visually disabled persons, physically disabled persons, and deaf persons shall be entitled to rent, lease, or purchase, as other members of the general public, all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or other compensation in this state, subject to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons

Register & Certify Your Service Dog in Georgia

 

The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in Georgia or any other state in the US. (*exception: New York City service dogs must be licensed by the city’s Department of Health). Service dogs are protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. Registration and certification is possible – but completely optional – and does not convey any legal rights under the ADA or the Department of Justice.  Read more here:

 

Service Dog Registration & Certification in the US – The Truth Opens in a new tab.

ADA – Service Animals Booklet

ADA – Service Animals FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

 

Sam Amy Nelson

Sam Amy Nelson (she/her) is an advocate for people with disabilities and mental health.

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