Service Dog Laws Illinois – Complete Easy Guide & FAQ

Service Dog Laws illinois

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.

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:

  1. What is a Service Dog?
  2. Examples of Service Dog Work or Tasks
  3. Quick Facts
  4. Businesses
  5. Questions You Can Ask
  6. Who is Entitled to Use a Service Dog?
  7. Service Dog Conditions & Limitations
  8. No Pets Policies
  9. Taking Care of Service Animals
  10. Illinois State Specific Laws
  11. Service Dogs In Training
  12. Registration & Certification
  13. Service Animal Access Act
  14. Psychiatric Service Dogs
  15. Emotional Support Animals in Housing
  16. Filing a Housing Complaint
  17. 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) Opens in a new tab.a service dog is: A dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to provide assistance to someone living with a disability.

service mini horse
Photo @flirty.the.mini.service.horseOpens in a new tab.

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 ADAOpens in a new tab., 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

Examples of service dog work or tasks
Photo @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.
  • 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 TasksOpens in a new tab.

Examples of service dog work or tasks
Photo @dog.human.duoOpens in a new tab.

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 quick facts
Photo @thatlilbearkodaOpens in a new tab.

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:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Retail stores
  • Theaters
  • Parks
  • Concert halls
  • Sports venues
Service dog laws Illinois information for businesses
Photo @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.

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.

Questions you can ask a service dog Illinois
Photo @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.

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.

Who is entitled to use a service dog in Illinois?
Photo @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

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 limitations Illinois
Photo @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

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
Service animals Illinois no pets policy
Photo @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.

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
taking care of service animals therapy animals
Photo @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.

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 state service dog laws
Photo @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

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 General Assembly Opens in a new tab.

Illinois service dog in training
Photo @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.

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 registeredOpens in a new tab..

Service Animal Registration Not Necessary

Service Dog Laws Illinois – Service Animal Access Act

Under the Illinois Service Animal Access ActOpens in a new tab., 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
Service animal access act Illinois
Photo @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.

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.

psychiatric service dog Illinois
Psychiatric Service Dog Photo @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.

Emotional Support Animal Laws Illinois Housing

Just like all other states, Illinois is subject to the FHA – Fair Housing ActOpens in a new tab.. 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
Illinois housing emotional support dog and service dog
Photo @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.




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 complaintOpens in a new tab. with FHEO.

Filing a housing complaint with a service dog or emotional support dog Illinois
Photo @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

Complaints & Violations

Complaints can be filed with:

For more information, call the U.S Department of Justice’s toll free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 (TTY: 800-514-0383)

service dog complaint and violation Illinois

BACK TO TOP

Sam Nelson

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

Recent Posts