Welcome to Service Dog Laws in Arizona
Are you wondering about service dog laws in Arizona? According to various sources, approximately 12% of people live with a disability in Arizona. Some folks have a service dog to help with their disability.
This is important because it can help to provide crucial support for everyday activities. In addition, it can provide improved opportunities and access for people with disabilities to basically be able to safely participate in life.
In this detailed guide, we’ll go through the various service dog laws in Arizona from different perspectives. This guide is for you if you are:
- A landlord or renter
- Business owner
- Family member
- Member of the community
- Someone who is interested in getting a service dog
- Someone who just wants to learn more
For a related article, check out our guide to Emotional Support Animal Laws in Arizona.
By the end of this guide, you’ll understand much more about service dog laws in Arizona. What they are, what they do, where they are allowed, what you can ask the service dog handler, whether they need to be certified or registered, what the rules are for public businesses and housing, and so much more. Let’s dive into this! Feel free to also check out our new article on the Fair Housing Act and emotional support animals.
Service dog laws can be confusing
Service dog laws in Arizona and in other states and places can be confusing, and there’s a good reason for that. There are multiple types of dogs, and multiple types of disabilities, many of which are invisible, and multiple laws govern various pieces of it all. This guide will break it all down into manageable sections, and hopefully ease the confusion.
Service dogs are for people who live with disabilities
The main thing to remember is that service dogs are used by people who live with disabilities. Service dogs can help people to access regular places in the community and keep people safe. And, to generally improve their quality of life.
Where can service dogs go?
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.
What is a Service Dog? Service Dog Laws in Arizona
There are multiple definitions of service dog
- The federal ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act, governs the use of service animals as they pertain to public access rights, plus more
The ADA is divided into five titles:
- Employment (Title I)
- Public Services (Title II)
- Public Accommodations (Title III)
- Telecommunications (Title IV)
- Miscellaneous (Title V)
- The FHA or Fair Housing Act governs the use of service animals federally in virtually all and any housing situations
- And the ACAA or Air Carrier Access Act governs the use of these special animals for air travel
- Additionally, each individual state may have additional laws around service dogs. The state of Arizona has the Arizonans with Disabilities Act
Who enforces the ADA (employment) in Arizona?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces the ADA in Arizona. In addition, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has a Civil Rights Division (ACRD). It enforces the Arizona state employment discrimination law.
ADA service animal definition
Let’s begin with the definition of service animals under the ADA. This is the law that has everything to do with public access rights; bringing a service dog into public places.
Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is a dog, and it can be any breed, any type, and any size of the dog, that has been individually trained to work (to “do work” or “perform tasks”) for a specific person’s disability.
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.
Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADAAmericans with Disabilities Act – Requirements
The end result is improving the lives of people who are living with disabilities so that they can more fully participate in society, and live the life they want to live.
It’s important to note that the work or tasks that the dog does for someone who lives with a disability, must be directly related to that person’s disability.
If a dog doesn’t perform a specific task or work for a specific person’s disability, then it’s not considered a service dog under the ADA laws for public access rights, nor service dog laws in Arizona. And unfortunately, fake service dogs are a thing.
Sometimes, miniature horses are used as service animals in cases where they may be more appropriate for some people. This is often the case for people who live with mobility, stability, and/or balance issues. Miniature horses should be included whenever it is possible. Read more about mini horses further down in this article.
Federal ADA laws for public access
Read more on our blog about the federal service dog laws that are the same for all states as it pertains to public access right: ADA Service Dog Laws & FAQ – Easy Guide
Service Dog Work or Tasks in Arizona
So, you may be wondering, what are these “work” or “tasks” that service dogs can do for people who are living with disabilities? What do the service dog laws in Arizona say about this?
Well, it’s not that easy to answer this question completely, because there are just so many things that these wonderful animals can do to help humans. The list is very long and varied. Here is a partial list of some of the things service dogs can do for people that count as “work” or “tasks.”
- Helping someone who is blind or living with low vision to navigate through the world
- Alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing to certain sounds, such as a phone ringing, a doorbell, a smoke alarm, or another important sound
- Pulling someone who is in a wheelchair
- Warning someone of a seizure about to happen, and/or keeping someone safe during the event, and/or going to get help after the event
- Warning someone that their blood sugar level is becoming dangerously too low or too high (diabetic alert dog)
- Warning someone about the presence of an allergen
- Retrieving items for someone who is unable to retrieve it for themselves, this can be anything from a telephone, keys, a bottle of water, or many different items
- Holding doors open for someone
- Finding an elevator, and pressing the button
- Carrying grocery bags from the store
- Providing stability and support for people with balance or stability issues
- Helping people who are living with certain psychiatric or neurological disabilities to disrupt dangerous behavior, for example, waking somebody from a nightmare who has PTSD
- Keeping someone with autism from wandering off and getting lost
- Reminding someone with depression or anxiety to take medication
- Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus website)
Comfort, Companion, and Emotional Support Animals
Although comfort animals, companion animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals are similar to service dogs, they are not considered service dogs under the ADA rules or service dog laws in Arizona. This is because they do not perform specific work or tasks for a particular disability.
This means that they don’t have the same rights as service dogs in terms of public access rights. However, some may have rights where housing arrangements are concerned.
It can be confusing to determine if a dog is a service dog sometimes. Just remember that if it is trained to do a task for a particular person’s disability, it’s a service dog.
So, a dog that comforts someone by its mere presence would be considered an emotional support or comfort animal, but a dog that has been trained to bring water and medication when someone is having a panic attack would be considered a psychiatric service dog under the ADA rules and service dog laws in Arizona. Read more on our blog: Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog
Service Dog Laws in Arizona – Professional Training
Service dog laws in Arizona, under the ADA, as well as the AzDA laws, indicate that service dogs do not need to be professionally trained. People who use service animals have the right to train the dog themselves.
There are many organizations in the states, as well as around the beautiful world that train service dogs for people, but these often have long wait for lists.
Some people train the dog themselves, or they may get someone like a dog trainer to help them. Businesses and other public entities in Arizona may not request proof of service dog training, especially not as a condition of entry for goods, services, or otherwise.
Service Dogs In Training (SDiT) in Arizona
One of the confusing things about service dogs is that there are different laws for them, depending on whether public access rights, air travel, or housing situations are concerned.
Additionally, each individual state may have different, or additional laws, than what the federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) indicates. What do the service dog laws in Arizona say about this?
Arizona is one state where the laws for service animals in training differ from the federal ADA service dog laws
Federal ADA service dog in training law
Under the federal ADA laws, service dogs in training do not have the same rights as fully trained service dogs. In other words, a service dog must be fully trained before it is allowed full public access rights.
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.Americans with Disabilities Act Frequently Asked Questions
Arizona service dog in training law
However, according to service dog laws in Arizona state specifically, it is not legal to deny a service dog in training (SDiT) from a public place. So, anywhere the general public is allowed or invited to go must permit a service dog in training, just the same as a fully trained service dog. If the service animal in training causes any damage, the animal trainer is responsible.
G. Any trainer or individual with a disability may take an animal being trained as a service animal to a public place for purposes of training it to the same extent as provided in subsections A, B and D of this section.Arizona Code
Questions Staff May Ask
Sometimes it’s obvious that someone is using a service dog because of a disability, like when you see a guide dog helping someone with a vision disability to cross a busy street in rush hour. Or perhaps when you see a person using a service dog for balance and stability.
But sometimes it isn’t obvious.
While staff at businesses and other “covered entities” may not ask personal questions, especially about a disability, there are two specific questions that you can ask to someone who is using a service dog when it’s not obvious what the dog does. They are:
(1) Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?
(2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
Staff may not do any of the following:
- Request any paperwork, evidence, or documentation for the animal
- Require that the animal demonstrate its task or work
- Ask questions about the nature of someone’s disability
- Read more on our blog: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – Easy Guide & FAQ (Public access rights that are the same for all states).
Service Dog Identification – Service Dog Laws in Arizona
Let’s talk about service dog identification. As in, do service dogs need to wear a vest, a special identification tag, a collar, or a special harness or patch as part of service dog laws in Arizona?
The answer to this is simply no
Service dog laws in Arizona under Arizona state law, as well as under the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act laws, do not require these special animals to wear any of the above. And yes, this might make it hard to tell a “regular” dog from a service dog, at times, especially considering many disabilities are invisible, but this is just the way it is.
And if you think about it, someone else’s disability is really a private matter, anyway. Requiring any of these items as a condition of entry or condition to participate in services and/or any public accommodation is discrimination.
Supervision of Service Animals
You may be wondering who is responsible for supervising service animals. The answer is the service dog handler is responsible for things like that, including feeding the dog, veterinary care, bathroom breaks, grooming, etc.
Businesses like restaurants, stores, movie theatres, and other “covered entities” as they’re known in the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) are not responsible for caring for, or supervising these animals.
Service Dog Certification Arizona
Service dogs do not need to be certified under the ADA or service dog laws in Arizona.
Requiring proof that a service animal has been certified, licensed, or trained as a condition of entry is prohibited. A piece of paper does not turn a dog into a service dog.
A dog is simply a service dog when it does a certain task or works for someone who is living with a disability, and the task or work directly relates to the disability to help the person live a better life.
Check out our blog Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate? to learn more about registrations, certifications, and why they are not required.
You may have noticed that there are websites online that sell certifications. These are not legitimate. These do not convey any rights under the service dog laws in Arizona, or under the ADA, and they are not recognized by the Department of Justice, either.
The same is exactly true for service dog registrations. A legitimate service dog registration service does not exist. It simply isn’t a thing. Check out our blog “Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate?” to learn more about registrations and why they are not required.
Local Vaccinations & Licenses
While the ADA does not specifically require service dogs to be licensed or vaccinated, some cities or counties have rules and laws around these types of things that apply to all dogs. These need to be respected by people who use service dogs as part of the service dog laws in Arizona.
If your city or county requires that all dogs be vaccinated, then service animals are not exempt from these types of public health requirements, local animal control regulations, and local animal licensing and registration requirements.
Having said that, there are many local animal control agencies in the state of Arizona that waive the licensing and registration fees for service animals, as well as for service animals in training. Singling out service dogs, and requiring only service dogs to be licensed or registered is prohibited.
Refusing / Excluding a Service Dog
Businesses and other “covered entities” in Arizona and other states need to be careful of refusing or excluding a service dog, because excluding one for the wrong reasons can be considered discrimination, and could potentially lead to lawsuits, bad reputations, and other negative consequences.
Let’s talk about the instances where service dogs may be excluded:
- If a service dog is posing a threat to other people, to other people’s health, safety, and/or wellbeing
- If a particular service dog has a history of being a threat to the health and safety and/or well-being of others
- If a service dog is not under the control of the handler. Service dogs must be under the control of their handler at all times. Usually, this is done with a leash, harness, tether, or, when a disability prevents the use of those items, voice control. Sometimes, the dog’s work or task requires it to be off-leash, but it should still be under the control of its handler at all times
- A legitimate safety reason is present
- If admitting a service animal would fundamentally alter the nature of a service or program
- If the animal is not housebroken, in other words, goes to the bathroom inappropriately
- Barking uncontrollably, especially in a quiet environment such as a library, lecture hall, movie theatre, or another quiet place
*If a service animal is displaying any of this behavior, staff may ask the dog to leave the premises. However, the person with the disability must still be offered a chance to enjoy the business or service or any other public environment without the dog being there. As part of the service dog laws in Arizona, excluding the dog doesn’t automatically exclude the person.
Service dogs may not be refused or excluded for the following reasons:
- Because of the dog’s breed, or because of an assumption or stereotype about a breed (for example, a lot of people don’t like Pit bulls, and I get that they can appear frightening, and people have a hard time trusting them… and that is likely for good reason)
- Because someone has a fear of dogs, or fear of a certain size, type, or breed of dog
- Because someone has allergies to dogs, or allergies to dog dander
If a business or another “covered entity” finds themselves in a situation where they find someone with a service dog in the same area as someone with allergies, or fear of dogs, then both need to be accommodated as part of the service dog laws in Arizona.
Staff may need to get creative with this. But neither party is more important than the other. Perhaps each person could be assigned to different areas of the same room, or maybe to different rooms in the same facility if that might be an available option.
If Discrimination Has Occurred in Arizona
If you think you have been denied access illegally because of the use of your service animal, you have a few options.
- You could file a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office
- Or, file a complaint with the US Department of Justice
- A third option would be to file a private lawsuit, charging the business or another “covered entity” with discrimination. This can be done under the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act, or the AzDA, Arizonans with Disabilities Act
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 (Read about Deep Pressure Therapy on our blog) 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 on our blog: 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.
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 to miniature horses whenever possible. Reasonable modifications need to be made in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by a 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
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.
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.
Fees For Service Animals in Arizona
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 Arizona State service dog 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.
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
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
How Do I Make My Dog a Service Dog in Arizona?
Stop making that sound so easy! To make your dog a service dog in Arizona, 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.
- Train the dog yourself
- Have a dog trainer help you
- Use a professional service dog training program or organization (Many of these have limited resources, long waiting lists, and other barriers, but it’s still a potential option)
- Any combination of the above
Even though service animals do not need to be professionally trained by an organization or school, they do need to be trained for a specific 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, are reactive to other dogs, noises, smells, people, or children, or want to only play (or relax) all day. Read more on our blog: Service Dog Training Basics & FAQ
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