Service dog laws in Arizona and in other states and places can be confusing, and there’s good reason for that.
There are multiple types of dogs, multiple types of disabilities, many of which are invisible, and multiple laws to govern various pieces of it all. This guide will break it all down into manageable sections, and hopefully ease the confusion.
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.
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 centres, schools, buses, taxis, hotels, Airbnb, amusement parks, doctor’s offices, hospitals, trains, and National Parks, just as a few examples.
Jump to a section:
- What is a Service Dog?
- Service Dog Work or Tasks
- Comfort, Companion, & Emotional Support Animals
- Professional Training of Service Animals
- Service Dogs in Training
- Questions Staff May Ask
- Service Dog Identification
- Supervision of Service Dogs
- Service Dog Certification
- Local Vaccinations and Licenses
- Refusing / Excluding a Service Dog
- If Discrimination has Occurred
- Psychiatric Service Dogs
- Miniature Horses
- Therapy Dogs
- Where Does The ADA Apply?
- How To Make Your Dog a Service Dog
- Does Arizona Recognize Emotional Support Animals? (ESAs)
1. 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
- The FHA or Fair Housing Act governs the the use of service animals federally in 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
Let’s begin with the definition of service animal 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 dog, that has been individually trained to work (to “do work” or “perform tasks”) with a specific person’s disability.
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 the 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, nor service dog laws in Arizona. And unfortunately, fake service dogs are a thing.
Sometimes, miniature horses are used as service animals in the case 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: ADA Service Dog Laws & FAQ – Easy Guide
2. 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 behaviour, 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)
3. Comfort, Companion, 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 nor service dog laws in Arizona.
This is because they do not perform a 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: Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog
4. 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 lists.
Some people train the dog themselves, or they may get someone like a dog trainer to help them.
Businesses and other entities in Arizona may not request proof of service dog training, especially not as a condition of entry for goods, services, or otherwise.
5. Service Dogs In Training 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) indicate. 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
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.
However, according to service dog laws in Arizona state specifically, it is not legal to deny a service dog in training 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 damages, 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
6. 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.
(1) Is the animal a service animal required because of a
(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 someones disability
Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – Easy Guide & FAQ (Public access rights that are the same for all states).
7. 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, 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.
8. 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 as in the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) are not responsible for caring for, or supervising these animals.
9. Service Dog Certification Arizona
Service dogs do not need to be certified under the ADA nor 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 work 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.
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.
10. 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.
11. 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, among 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 wellbeing of others
- If a service dog is not under control of the handler. Service dogs must be under 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 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 behaviour, 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 or 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.
12. 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
13. 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 behaviours
- Alerting the handler to rage or other types of strong emotions
- Interrupting self-harming behaviours
- 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.
14. Miniature Horses
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
15. Therapy Dogs
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.
16. 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.
17. 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: Federal ADA Workplace Accommodation Guide
19. 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 your 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: Service Dog Training Basics & FAQ
20. Does Arizona Recognize Emotional Support Animals?
No, Arizona does not recognize emotional support animals (ESAs) for public access rights as it does service animals. Emotional support animals can be denied access to public places. However, it’s good to note that ESAs may have rights when it comes to a reasonable request in a housing or employment situation, under the federal FHA (Fair Housing Act) and/or ADA laws.
The ADA Is Similar
The following is a quote from the Americans with Disabilities Act:
“While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.
“Even though some states have laws defining therapy animals, these animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities and therefore are not covered by federal laws protecting the use of service animals. Therapy animals provide people with therapeutic contact, usually in a clinical setting, to improve their physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning.” – Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network
Arizona Emotional Support Animal Laws
In Arizona, emotional support animals are governed by various laws. Here are some facts about AZ emotional support animal laws in different contexts.
- Emotional support animals (ESAs) are not automatically exempt from a housing provider’s no-pet policies
- Someone with a disability can request a “reasonable accommodation” for an ESA in a housing situation, and housing providers need to be accommodating, unless they can show that allowing an ESA would be an undue burden on its operations
- ESA’s do not need to be specially trained in order to qualify for a reasonable accommodation for a housing situation
- Animals other than dogs may also function as emotional support, therapy or assistance animals in housing situations under the Fair Housing Act (I think that is why ESAs are called “ assistance animals,” not “service dogs” under this Act)
Payment / fees
- Payment may be required for any specific damage done to a premises by an ESA
- It is illegal to charge someone with a disability an extra fee to keep a guide or service dog or an emotional support, therapy or assistance animal (ESA)
- Emotional support animals are no longer included in the ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act) definition of service animal, therefore…
- ESA’s may not travel in the cabin of a plane with their human under the ACAA; although, individual airlines may vary. ESAs may still travel through the air as a pet
Public access rights
- Emotional support animals are not covered by the ADA for public access rights, so they can be denied access to public places, although individual businesses may vary
- ESAs can still visit “pet-friendly” public accommodations with their handler
- ESAs can be requested as a reasonable accommodation in an employment situation under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Emotional support animals do not need to be registered or have for any reason. No legitimate ESA registration system exists. Websites selling ESA papers online are not recognized by the Department of Justice nor the ADA, and purchasing one of those piece of papers from the internet does not give someone any special rights. What is needed for housing and/or employment is a letter from a doctor or other medical professional merely stating the animal is required
Read more: Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog
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
- Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – General Guide & FAQ
- Federal ADA Workplace Accommodation Guide
- Service Animal In Training Laws By U.S. State
- Arizona ESA Laws (Emotional Support Animals)