Welcome to Service Dog Laws in Maine
There are multiple laws that govern the use of service dogs; specially trained dogs that are used by people with disabilities. One of these is the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a federal law, so the basic laws for service dogs are the same for all states.
However, to make things more confusing, each state may or may not also have additional – or their own – service dog laws. People with disabilities who use service dogs have a right to use whichever law – state, federal, or a combination – that would benefit them the most.
This article will thoroughly discuss service dog laws in Maine, from the federal ADA perspective, as well as Maine-specific laws, and much, much much more.
Table of Contents
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 Animal?
It’s important to know that there are multiple, different definitions of service dog and service animal. It depends on the context.
- The ADA governs the use of service dogs at the federal level where mostly public access rights are concerned
- The FHA or Fair Housing Act governs the use of what they call assistance animals when a housing situation is concerned
- And the ACAA, Air Carrier Access Act, governs the use of service dogs when air travel is concerned.
Each individual state may also have its own service dog laws. Where there are multiple laws, or sometimes even conflicting laws, people with disabilities may use whichever law or combination of laws benefits them. Fake service dogs are pets that people are attempting to take into public places. Read more on our blog: Service Animal Laws by State
Service Dog Laws In Maine – State Service Animal Definition
The definition of a Service Animal in the state of Maine is as follows:
A Service Animal is a dog that has been deemed necessary by a doctor, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse, or licensed social worker for someone living with a disability. The animal helps to mitigate the effects of a person’s physical or mental disability.
A service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to benefit a person who lives with a physical or mental disability, by doing work or performing certain tasks.
Just a few examples of the kinds of work or tasks that these special dogs may perform for a person living with a disability include:
- Guiding someone who is blind or can’t see well
- Alerting someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to sounds or intruders
- Providing reasonable protection
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Grabbing dropped items
- Assisting someone during a seizure
- Providing physical support and/or balance and stability
- Reminding someone with an intellectual disability to take a medication
- Helping someone with a psychiatric or neurological condition by interrupting problem behavior (As one example, read about how DPT Service Dogs help people with PTSD and other conditions)
Think of a service dog as an aid that helps someone with a disability to better access services, much like a wheelchair or cane. Service animals are not pets.
ADA Definition of Service Dog
So under the ADA, which governs the use of service dogs federally for any time when public access rights and details are concerned, the definition of a service dog is as follows:
A Service Animal must be a dog that has been individually trained for a person living with a disability, to do work or perform tasks. The work or task(s) that the dog performs must directly relate to the person’s disability. Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws Easy Guide & FAQ
Fair Housing Act Definition of Assistance Animal
When housing situations are concerned, the Fair Housing Act takes over as the source for service animal laws and guidance. They have a slightly different and more broad definition of what they call an assistance animal.
For this definition, an assistance animal is an animal that works and/or provides assistance and/or performs tasks for the benefit of someone who is living with a disability.
An assistance animal may also be an animal that provides emotional support. This emotional support alleviates one or more characteristics of a person’s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet.
Air Carrier Access Act Definition of Service Animal
Look to the ACAA or Air Carrier Access Act when you’re wondering about service dogs being allowed on airplanes and in the cabin.
The ACAA definition of a service animal is:
A service animal is any type or breed of dog, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks to help and benefit a qualified person with a disability.
This includes physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
Animals other than dogs, emotional support animals, comfort animals, companion animals, and service animals-in-training are not considered service animals for this definition. Read more on our blog: Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog
General Service Dog Laws in Maine
Places of public accommodation in Maine are known as PAs. The Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) requires that PAs or public places of accommodation allow the use of service animals by people who are living with disabilities.
There are a few exceptions. But generally speaking, the law is one of inclusion and requires that PA’s allow the use of service animals at their premises, facilities, or place of business.
Service Dog Laws in Maine – What is a PA in Maine?
Service dog laws in Maine include language about PAs, which are places of public accommodations. Places of public accommodations in Maine are defined as any establishment that is open to the general public. This includes offering their goods, facilities, and services to the public.
Some examples are:
- State or town buildings
- State or town agencies
- Professional offices
- Movie theatres
- Grocery stores
- Other stores
- Public and private schools
- Trains and other types of transportation
- Hotels and motels and other places of lodging
- Read more on our blog: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Information For Businesses
Service dog laws in Maine include a section on what businesses, other entities, or PAs (public places of accommodations) may ask people who are using service animals.
Sometimes it’s obvious that someone is using a service dog because of a disability, like when you can see a person being guided across a busy street by their service animal.
However, many disabilities are invisible.
When this is the case, it’s not going to be obvious why a person is using a service dog. In these instances, a PA (place of public accommodation) in Maine may only ask two questions to determine if the animal is a service animal:
1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
Under the service dog laws in Maine, these are the only two questions that can be asked to someone.
A business, entity or other PA (place of public accommodation) may not:
- Ask about a disability, including the nature or extent of a person’s disability
- Ask about the service dog if the purpose of the dog is obvious, such as witnessing a dog pulling a wheelchair
- Ask for any kind of documentation that shows that the dog has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. People who use service animals have the right to train the animal themselves
- Ask that the dog show a special collar or identification tag
It is a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) to request or require documentation proving that an animal is a service animal. Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws Easy Guide & FAQ
Service Dog Laws in Maine – Where Service Animals Are Allowed
The service dog laws in Main indicate that people who are living with disabilities must be allowed to be accompanied by their service animal in all areas of businesses and other public accommodations where the public (including customers, patrons, and invitees) are able to go.
- People with disabilities who use service animals must not be separated or designated to certain areas of a facility or business
- For example, a restaurant may not restrict people with service dogs to one particular area
- People with service dogs must be allowed to go where anyone else can go
- Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Service Dog Laws in Maine Fees & Charges
A business, another entity, or another place of public accommodation must not require people with service dogs to pay a fee because of their animal.
In addition, people with disabilities who use service animals must not be given special rules because of their animals.
Service dogs are not pets. Therefore, they must not be treated as such. This includes fees for pets.
If a business, another entity, or a place of public accommodation normally requires a fee due to damages caused by pets, then someone with a service dog may also be charged the same fee if their service dog causes damages to the property or facilities.
Service Dog Laws in Maine – Excluding Service Animals
There are certain times when a business, entity, or another PA (place of public accommodation) may ask a service dog to leave.
- If the service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective means to control it
- If the service animal is not housebroken (i.e. it “goes to the bathroom” inappropriately)
- If the service animal is a direct threat to the health and safety of others
- If the service animal being there would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others
- If the service animal would be interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of the PA (a public accommodation) by others
In cases where a service dog has been excluded, the business, entity, or another place of public accommodation (PA) must offer the person with the disability a chance to use the facility or receive the goods, services, or other benefits without the dog being there. In other words, excluding the dog does not automatically exclude the person.
Service Dog Laws in Maine – Service Animal Control
Service animals must generally be on a halter, tether, or leash as means of control, unless, due to the nature of the disability, or the nature of the work that the dog needs to do, prevents this.
It a halter, tether, or leash is not possible, then the service animal must still be under the control of the handler via voice, signals, or another method.
Service Dog Laws in Maine – Allergies & Fear of Dogs
Allergies and fear of dogs or fear or judgments of certain dog breeds are not valid reasons under service dog laws in Maine to exclude a service dog.
Service dogs under service dog laws Maine, as well as federal ADA laws, indicate that service dogs may be any breed, any size, and any type of dog.
Similarly, someone who has an allergy to dogs or dog dander is not a valid reason to exclude a service dog.
In the case where a business or another entity is in a situation where they encounter someone with a service dog and someone with an allergy, both people must be accommodated.
Businesses might have to get creative with this. The parties could be placed in different locations within one room, or perhaps in different locations within the same facility.
Service Animals In the Workplace In Maine
The office of the Attorney General in Maine supports the use of trained service animals in the workplace for people who live with disabilities and require the use of their service animal while at work.
For this purpose, the definition of a service animal is as follows:
- A service animal is an animal that has been determined necessary by a physician, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or licensed social worker, to help mitigate the effects, or some of the effects, of a physical or mental disability
- Or, a service animal is an animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of someone who lives with a physical or mental disability. This can include but is not limited to, guiding people with impaired vision, alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing to important sounds, providing reasonable protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or picking up dropped items.
Prerequisites for Service Animals in the Workplace
Service animals are not allowed in the workplace in Maine until the following conditions are met:
- The service animal must be licensed by an appropriate municipal clerk, or, alternatively by a veterinary licensing agent
- The service dog must be up to date on all recommended vaccinations – these include state and local (city, county) requirements
- The service dog must have completed training from an established service dog or service animal training organization, OR
- The service animal must have been evaluated by a certified animal trainer and found to have a good temperament that is suitable for a workplace setting.
- If the animal is evaluated by a certified animal trainer, the service animal’s behavior must be tested indoors around unknown people. This includes unexpected distractions, noises, and children.
Standards For Service Animals in the Workplace
All Service Animals in Maine are expected to meet certain standards. Failure to meet the following standards may result in temporary or permanent removal of the service animal from the workplace.
- The care and health of the service animal are not the employer’s responsibility. It is the sole responsibility of the employee
- The service animal must be within the employee’s control at all times. This can be done by either a leash, containment (such as a crate), or voice command
- The service animal must be well-behaved at all times. This includes non-aggressive behaviors such as no jumping, no growling, no snarling, no biting, no snapping, etc.
- The service animal must not be disruptive in the workplace. This means no barking, no whining, and no destruction of state or personal property
- The service animal should, if practicable, wear a vest or backpack so that people know it as being identifiable as a service animal
Some considerations that are relative to co-workers with regard to service animals in the workplace in Maine are:
- The office needs to notify co-workers of the pending placement of a service animal in the workplace, and offer an opportunity for co-workers to express any concerns they may have in advance
- The office will need to develop a plan to address any concerns of coworkers who may be allergic to dogs or dog danger, or fearful of a potential service animal, if and when appropriate
- The employee should post prominent notices at their workstation with some relative information for coworkers. This should include information about interactions with the service animal. For example, “please ask me before petting or speaking to my service animal.”
Removal of Service Animals in the Workplace
A service animal may be removed from the premises if:
- It is a direct threat to the health or safety of others
- If it would result in substantial physical damage to the property of other people
- If the service animal substantially interferes with the work of the office or coworkers
Service Animals in Housing
Under service dog laws in Maine, people with assistance animals (as they are called in housing situations) have the right to the same housing experiences at those tenants without assistance or service animals.
Here are some general rules and guidelines on service dog laws in Maine as they relate to housing situations:
- People with disabilities must not be isolated or removed from the normal areas of housing
- It is illegal for property owners to assign certain apartments to people with disabilities who use assistance animals
- It is illegal for property owners to charge a fee for the use of a service animal or assistance animal. Assistance animals are not pets and are not prone to pet deposits
- Housing providers may charge a person if their assistance animal causes damage only when it is normal practice to charge other people who have pets for the damages that the pet may cause
- Generally speaking, assistance animals must be on a leash, tether, or halter when they’re outside the residence of the tenant unless the nature of the disability or nature of the dog’s work doesn’t allow for this
- When the leash, tether, or halter is not possible, the service animal or assistance animal must be kept under control by voice, signals, or another method
- Service animals or assistance animals may be removed from housing situations if they are a direct threat to the health and safety or others, or, if keeping it would result in direct, physical damage to the property of others, or, if it in some way substantially interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the housing by others
- For example, a service animal or assistance animal that barks all night long, keeping other people awake, may be removed
- Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons to exclude a service animal or assistance animal from a housing situation. In the case where someone with allergies or fear of dogs and someone with an assistance animal is both present, the housing provider needs to find creative ways to accommodate them both.
- Landlords can not impose breed or size restrictions for assistance animals, unless complying directly with Maine law, such as certain zoning ordinances, or restrictions on exotic animals.
- Landlords can not require that people with assistance animals or service animals obtain insurance for their animals unless it requires this of all tenants
Service or Assistance Animal for Housing Definition
The Maine Human Rights Act has a slightly different definition – slightly broader – than the other definition of service animal under the ADA service dog laws in Maine.
For housing situations, an assistance animal is an animal (this could be a dog, a cat, a bird, or another type of animal) that is either determined necessary for someone with a physical or mental disability, to help lessen or mitigate some of the effects of a disability.
This needs to be in the opinion of a doctor, psychologist, doctor’s assistant, nurse practitioner, licensed social worker, licensed professional counselor, or another licensed health professional with knowledge of the disability-related need for this animal.
An assistance animal for housing is an animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform certain tasks for the benefit of someone who is living with a disability.
This can include obvious service animal roles, such as a guide dog for someone who is blind or lives with low vision. But it can also include other types of animals that can provide emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship related to invisible disabilities.
There are many invisible disabilities. Some examples are depression, anxiety, certain phobias, PTSD, and certain types of autism… These dogs or animals may or may not have special training to perform tasks or work that help people with disabilities.
- Assistance animals are not required to have a special ID card, to be certified, to be registered, or to have a special harness or collar that identifies them as a service animal or assistance animal
- Assistance animals with someone who has a disability are allowed to visit a tenant in a housing situation, even when “no pets” policies are in place. Assistance animals are not pets. People with disabilities must not be discriminated against in Maine
- When disabilities are not obvious, a housing provider in Maine may ask about the disability, and for some evidence that the assistance animal has been trained, or prescribed
- Evidence of assistance animal training may be shown by a demonstration, if applicable
- Housing providers may not demand medical records from a person with a disability or to speak with the person’s medical professional
Are Emotional Support Animals Service Animals?
Emotional support animals aren’t considered service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act laws for public access rights and can be excluded from public places. However, ESA may have rights under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for residential situations, and as a reasonable accommodation for employment situations.
“Trained” refers to an animal being task-trained for a particular person’s disability, which goes well above and beyond basic socialization and dog obedience basics.
Read more on our blog: Service Dog vs. Emotional Support Dog
Maine Emotional Support Animal Laws
In Maine, emotional support animals are governed by various laws. Here are some facts about ME 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 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 may be required for any specific damage done to the 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…
- ESAs 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
- 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 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 pieces of paper 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
- ADA Service Dog Laws, General FAQ for Public Access Rights
- Service Dog Laws By State
- Service Dogs in Training (SDiT) Laws By State
- Human Rights Commission of Maine
- ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act
- Office of the Maine Attorney General
- Maine – Assistance Animals in Housing Laws