Welcome To Service Dog Laws Hawaii – The Epic Guide for Humans
Welcome to our service dog laws in Hawaii guide and FAQ page, updated for 2023. Service dog laws in Hawaii require that a specially trained service dog (sometimes called an assistance dog, in housing situations and in Europe) 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. Unfortunately, there are people who put a vest on their pet and call it a service dog to try and get public access to non-pet-friendly places. These fake service dogs are harmful to the legitimate service dog community. For a related article, check out my guide to Emotional Support Animals in Hawaii.
In this detailed guide, we’ll go through some of the most common questions about service dogs in the state of Hawaii. This includes where they are allowed in public, housing information, what businesses need to know, plus much more.
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 centers, schools, buses, taxis, hotels, Airbnb, amusement parks, doctor’s offices, hospitals, trains, and National Parks, just as a few examples.
Laws & Definitions
Part of the reason why service dogs can be so confusing is that there are multiple laws around them. Here is a summary of the different laws relevant to Hawaii and their main purpose in general.
- 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 taken to the skies with their handler. Fully trained service animals are allowed in the cabin of airplanes with their handler as long as they 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
- Hawaii State Laws
- Section 504 – is similar to the ADA, and protects the rights of students with disabilities in educational settings.
- IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – is yet another law that is in place for students with disabilities in the United States.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the employment division of the ADA.
Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – Summary & FAQ
There are multiple definitions for service dogs, which can make things confusing. The ADA has a definition for public access rights. The FHA has another definition for housing. And the ACAA has yet another definition for air travel with service dogs.
Of course, Hawaii has another definition for service dogs, but it’s practically identical to the definition by the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act for public access rights. Let’s take a closer look.
“Service dog” 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.State of Hawaii, Hawaii Law
The service dog work or tasks include but are not limited to:
- Helping people who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other related tasks
- Alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Helping someone during a seizure
- Providing physical support and help with balance and stability to people with mobility disabilities
- Helping people with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behavior
- Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus)
What doesn’t count as a service dog:
- The crime deterrent effects of a dog or animal’s presence, such as dogs with “protection training”
- Emotional support animals, animals for well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition
Hawaii Fake Service Animal Laws
Unfortunately, fake service animals are a real problem. This is when someone puts a vest on their pet and tries to pass off the pet as a service animal so that they can take their pet anywhere they want. This makes life harder for people with real service dogs who are merely trying to go about their lives. In Hawaii, misrepresentation of a service animal now carries a civil penalty.
It shall be unlawful for a person to knowingly misrepresent as a service animal any animal that does not meet the requirements of a service animal as defined in section.Hawaii Law
- First violations will cost $100 – $250
- Subsequent violations will cost $500 each
Service Animals in Public Accommodations
According to Service Dog Laws Hawaii (Hawaii State law),
Unfair discriminatory practices that deny, or attempt to deny, a person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation on the basis of race; sex, including gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; color; religion; ancestry; or disability, including the use of a service animal, are prohibited.Hawaii State Law
- Under the ADA laws, service dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers anywhere that an individual with a disability is allowed to enter
- In other words, nearly anywhere that the general public is allowed or invited to go (there are a few exceptions)
- This includes grocery stores, malls, movie theatres, restaurants, buses, taxis, community centers, government buildings, etc.
In other words, businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service dogs into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go.
This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including:
- Grocery stores
- Department stores
- Medical offices
- Health clubs
- + more
- Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Register & Certify Your Service Dog in Hawaii
The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in Hawaii or any other state in the U.S. Service dogs are protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws. In addition, there is no state registration system in place for Hawaii.
Registration and certification done online from non-government websites do 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. Check out our detailed blog about service dog registration and why it’s not required.
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.
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.
What are the Requirements for a Service Dog in Hawaii?
In order to be eligible for a service dog in Hawaii, a person must have a disability. Their service dog must be individually trained to do work or tasks for that specific person. Additionally, the work or tasks must be directly related to the disability, and help to mitigate their effects.
Can I Take My Emotional Support Dog to Hawaii?
You can certainly take your emotional support dog to Hawaii, but it will likely need to travel as a pet if you’re traveling there by air. The ACAA definition of service animals does not include emotional support animals.
Emotional support animals do not have the same public access rights as service animals. So while outdoor environments probably won’t be a problem, the same can not necessarily be said for public places, although some are welcoming to animals and pets. Read more on our blog about ESAs: Emotional Support Animals – The Ultimate Guide.
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
Can I Take My Service Animal to Hawaii?
Yes, you can take your service dog to Hawaii. To enter Hawaii without having to quarantine, certain conditions and requirements must be met. The Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Oahu is the only port of entry for all dogs and cats entering Hawaii unless a valid Neighbor Island Inspection Permit has been issued by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
Service Dog Requirements for Entering Hawaii
- The service dog or guide dog must have a current rabies vaccination. You need documentation of the vaccination, and it must include the product name, the lot or serial number, and the expiration date
- The dog must have an electronic microchip implanted for identification
- Before your arrival, every service dog and guide dog must have passed the OIE-FAVN test with a level of 0.5 I.U. rabies antibody or greater. Your passing test result will be valid for 3 years and must be repeated every 3 years if you continue to travel to Hawaii. The test should be conducted after 12 months of age
- Animals in training do not qualify as service animals because, under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places
- The service dog or guide dog must have a standard health certificate issued not more than 30 days prior to your arrival in Hawaii. This needs to attest that the dog was treated within 14 days of arrival with a product containing Fipronil or an equivalent long-acting product labeled to kill ticks. A valid health certificate is required for every entry into Hawaii
- The work or specific task(s) the animal has been trained to perform needs to be disclosed
- The service dog or guide dog must be traveling with the disabled person when arriving in Hawaii
- In order to prevent delays on your arrival, it is strongly recommended that all required documents be sent to the Rabies Quarantine Branch well ahead of time. Information can be mailed to the Animal Quarantine Station, 99-951 Halawa Valley Street, Aiea, HI 96701 or faxed to (808) 483-7161. Staff may be contacted by telephone (808) 483-7151 or (808) 837-8092 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to help you with preparing
- The Rabies Quarantine Branch must receive notification at least 24 hours in advance of arrival information and the location where the dog will be staying. Information can be faxed to 808-483-7161
- When you arrive in Hawaii, your dog must be brought by the airline to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility for verification of compliance with the above requirements and examination of the dog for external parasites. If everything is good, the dog will be released at that point
Service Dogs in Training
Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) service dogs in training do not have the same rights as fully trained service animals. Service animals must be finished training before public access is permitted. Most states have some kind of their own service animal laws that in some way or another include service animals in training. However, Hawaii does not. Therefore, the ADA laws apply.
Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, some State or local laws cover animals that are still in training.ADA FAQ
Info For Businesses
It’s obviously important for businesses and other “covered entities” to be aware of service dog laws in Hawaii as well as 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.
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?
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 on our blog: Federal ADA Workplace Accommodation Guide
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
- Anxiety disorders
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 behaviors
- Alerting the handler to rage or other types of strong emotions
- Interrupting self-harming behaviors
- 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 simple: Psychiatric 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.
As we’ve already talked about, service animals perform various work or tasks to help someone with a disability to live safely and independently. U.S. Department of Transportation Americans with Disabilities Act regulations define a service animal as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to:
- Guiding individuals with impaired vision
- Alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds
- Providing minimal protection or rescue work
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Fetching dropped items
When riding transit, customers with disabilities who use service animals are responsible for maintaining control over their animals (and caring for them) at all times. Riders are also responsible for knowing the best way to board and position their service animal on the vehicle, especially if the service animal may be required to provide assistance (“tasking”) during the transit trip. Service animals may not block aisles or exits.
According to ADA regulations, every transportation employee or operator who serves people with disabilities needs to be trained so that they know how to provide non-discriminatory service in an appropriate and respectful way.
When serving passengers who are blind, operators should:
- Identify themselves
- Speak directly to the customer instead of through a companion
- Use specifics such as “there are five boarding steps and a 10-inch drop to the curb” when giving directions
Transit agencies should be aware of the following rules under ADA:
- Operators must allow all service animals on board
- Operators may not ask for proof of service animal, certification or of the customer’s disability
- Operators may not require a person traveling with a service animal to sit in a particular seat on the vehicle or charge a cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals onto the vehicle unless the animal causes damage
- There is no formal service animal certification process or paperwork that is recognized by Massachusetts State 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).
The following items are not required for an animal to qualify as a service dog no matter which service dog laws in Massachusetts we are talking about:
- Service dog vest
- Service dog markings of any kind
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. A 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.
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.
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.
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
Read more on our blog: