Service Dog Laws Illinois
Service dog laws can be confusing, and service dog laws Illinois are not an exception – and there are a few reasons for that. There are multiple laws that govern the use of service animals, depending on the context.
- Public access rights – ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
- Air travel – ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act)
- Housing – FHA (Fair Housing Act)
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
There are also similar types of working dogs, like emotional support animals and therapy dogs, that are different from service dogs. But it can be hard to tell, because, well, they all look like dogs. In this easy guide, we will go through the federal laws, as well as any laws specific to Illinois, and make some sense of it all.
Jump to a section:
- What is a Service Dog?
- Examples of Service Dog Work or Tasks
- Quick Facts
- Questions You Can Ask
- Who is Entitled to Use a Service Dog?
- Service Dog Conditions & Limitations
- No Pets Policies
- Taking Care of Service Animals
- Illinois State Specific Laws
- Service Dogs In Training
- Registration & Certification
- Service Animal Access Act
- Psychiatric Service Dogs
- Emotional Support Animals in Housing
- Filing a Housing Complaint
- Complaints & Violations
What is a Service Dog?
A service dog can be defined several different ways, depending on context. Public access rights, air travel, and housing situations each use a different definition.
Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) a service dog is: A dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to provide assistance to someone living with a disability.
The work or tasks that the animal does must be directly related to a person’s disability.
An animal that fits this description is considered a service animal, even if the animal has not been certified or registered, or wearing identification.
Under the ADA, service animals do not need to be professionally trained. In addition, no legitimate federal certification or registration agency exists.
Read more: Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog
Examples of Service Dog Work or Tasks
- Alerting deaf or people who are hard of hearing to certain sounds, like their name, a smoke alarm, a knock at the door, a phone call
- Carrying and picking up objects for individuals with mobility impairments, such as grocery bags or other items
- Providing balance assistance for individuals with mobility impairments
- Alerting individuals to oncoming seizures and providing assistance throughout the event
Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks
Service Dog Laws Illinois Quick Facts
- Some service dogs may wear a special collars, harnesses, cape, or vest, but they might not
- Some service dogs are licensed or certified by professional service animal training organizations and they may have identification papers
- Special identification, certification, and registration are not required by the ADA. Asking someone for any documents related to their service dog is a violation of the ADA laws
Service Dog Laws Illinois & Businesses
Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) people who live with disabilities must not be discriminated against. Businesses are required to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals anywhere the public is generally allowed or invited.
This includes any “places of public accommodation,” like:
- Retail stores
- Concert halls
- Sports venues
Businesses may not:
- Require or demand service animal identification cards
- Make unnecessary inquiries about an individual’s disability under any circumstances
Questions You Can Ask
If it’s not obvious why somebody is using a service animal, staff at businesses and other covered entities may only ask two questions.
You can ask whether the animal is a service animal, and inquire as to what tasks or work the service dog has been trained to perform.
Who is Entitled to Use a Service Dog?
The types of eligible disabilities under the ADA are not limited. In other words, there must be a link between the task or work that the service dog animal does, and the person with a disability. The animal must be individually trained to work or tasks for the benefit of the person with a disability.
Service Dog Conditions or Limitations
- Deposits and/or surcharges must not be required as a condition of allowing a service animal to accompany a person
- Service dogs must not be separated or excluded from areas of the facility that are open to the public
- You may not ask a person to remove their service animal from the premises, unless: (1) the presence of the animal fundamentally alters the goods, services, facilities or accommodations of your business or (2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Service Dog Laws Illinois – No Pets Policies
- Under the ADA laws, businesses are required to modify policies to allow the use of a service animal by a person who has a disability
- Service dogs are not pets; they are working animals
Taking Care of Service Animals
- The owner of the service animal is solely responsible for its care and supervision
- Businesses are not required to provide care, food or a special location for the service dog or service animal
Service Dog Laws Illinois State Specific
In Illinois, there are:
- The Service Animal Access Act
- White Cane Law
In addition to the federal ADA laws, these are state criminal laws that guarantee the rights of people with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animal in public places.
- Violation of the Service Animal Access Act is a Class C misdemeanor
- Violation of the White Cane Law is a Class A misdemeanor
Illinois Service Dog Laws for Dogs In Training
In Illinois, service animals in training have rights under the law. According to the Illinois Service Animal Access Act:
(a) When a person with a physical, mental, or intellectual disability requiring the use of a service animal is accompanied by a service animal or when a trainer of a service animal is accompanied by a service animal, neither the person nor the service animal shall be denied the right of entry and use of facilities of any public place of accommodation as defined in Section 5-101 of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
Illinois Service Dog Registration
Under the federal ADA laws, service animals in Illinois and all other states do not need to be registered, certified, or professionally trained. No legitimate federal service dog registration agency exists.
Even though you may have seen websites online that seem to sell these types of documents, these papers are not legitimate, and don’t convey any legal rights. Buying one of these papers does not turn a dog into a service dog. Service dogs, under the ADA, do not need to be registered.
Service Dog Laws Illinois – Service Animal Access Act
Under the Illinois Service Animal Access Act, a service animal is defined as a dog or miniature horse that has been trained, or is being trained as:
- A hearing animal
- A guide animal
- An assistance animal
- A seizure alert animal
- A mobility animal
- A psychiatric service animal
- An autism service animal
- Or any other animal trained for any other physical, mental, or intellectual disability
Service animals include miniature horses, and places of public accommodation need to make a reasonable attempt to accommodate them considering:
- The type, the size, and the weight of the miniature horse, and whether or not the facility can safely accommodate its features
- Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse
- Whether the miniature horse’s presence in the premises or facility would compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for operation
Psychiatric Service Dog Illinois
Psychiatric service dogs are legitimate service dogs in Illinois as well as the federal ADA laws. These specially trained animals can help people who are living with psychiatric disabilities.
One example of a psychiatric service dog would be a PTSD dog, that has been trained to wake someone up from a nightmare.
Or, a psychiatric service dog can perform DPT or Deep Pressure Therapy for someone to help reduce the effects of certain disabilities.
A dog can be considered a psychiatric service dog as long as it has been individually trained to do certain work or tasks for a particular person’s disability. People often wonder if a service dog can be helpful for anxiety. And the answer is yes.
If a dog has been trained to perform a certain task, for example, during a panic attack, like bringing water and medication to a person, then it’s considered a psychiatric service dog.
But if a dog merely helps somebody calm down just by being there, then that is considered an emotional support animal.
Emotional support animals don’t have the same public access rights as service dogs, but they do have rights when it comes to housing situations.
Emotional Support Animal Laws Illinois Housing
Just like all other states, Illinois is subject to the FHA – Fair Housing Act. Under the Fair Housing Act, people with disabilities have a right to keep a service animal or emotional support animal with them in a housing situation.
The Fair Housing Act uses the term “assistance animal” and defines it differently – more broadly – compared to the ADA laws.
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.”
Individuals with a disability may request to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation to a housing provider’s pet restrictions.
Housing providers cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers must allow a “reasonable accommodation” involving an assistance animal in situations that meet all the following conditions:
- Someone with a disability (or their representative) who would like to live with their assistance animal, must make a request to the housing provider
- The request needs to be supported by reliable disability-related information, as long as the disability and the disability-related need for the animal were not apparent. Housing providers must request this information
- The housing provider has not demonstrated that:
- Granting the request would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the provider of the housing situation
- The request would fundamentally alter the essential nature of the housing provider’s operations
- The specific service dog, emotional support dog, or assistance animal in question, would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others… Despite any other reasonable accommodations that could eliminate or reduce the threat
- The request would not result in significant physical damage to the property of others despite any other reasonable accommodations that could eliminate or reduce the physical damage
Examples of Reasonable Accommodation in Housing
- A request to live with a service dog, emotional support dog, or assistance animal, at a property where the landlord or housing provider has a no-pets policy
- A request to waive a pet deposit, fee, or other rule
Filing a Housing Complaint
If you have been unlawfully denied a reasonable accommodation for an emotional support animal, service animal, or assistance animal in a housing situation, or have otherwise experienced discrimination in housing, you can file a complaint with FHEO.
Complaints & Violations
Complaints can be filed with:
- The Illinois Department of Human Rights
- The U.S. Department of Justice
- By contacting the Disability Rights Bureau at the Office of the Attorney General
- A complaint for a violation of the White Cane Law or the Service Animal Access Act should be filed with your county state’s attorney
For more information, call the U.S Department of Justice’s toll free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 (TTY: 800-514-0383)