Service Dog Laws in Montana – Easy Guide, FAQ + more (2022)

service dog laws in Montana

Welcome to our easy-to-understand guide on service dog laws in Montana. Service dog laws can be confusing, and there are several reasons for that. There are multiple laws that govern the use of service animals. Or go to Federal ADA Service Dog Laws Summary Guide & FAQ.

The Many Service Dog Laws in Montana

  1. There’s a federal law known as the ADAOpens in a new tab. or Americans with Disabilities ActOpens in a new tab.
  2. There are State-specific laws on service animals
  3. There are laws for housing known as the Fair Housing ActOpens in a new tab.
  4. And in case that wasn’t enough, there are additional and separate laws for service dogs when air traveling, known as the ACAAOpens in a new tab., or Air Carrier Access ActOpens in a new tab.
Service Doodle Service Dog
Photo @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

Additionally, there are other, similar animals that have some rights in housing, but no public access rights. These are known as emotional support dogs/animals, companion dogs/animals, comfort dogs/animals, or therapy dogs.

Let’s jump into all the service dog laws in Montana details.

Jump to a section:

  1. The Different Service Animal Definitions
  2. ADA Definition (Public Access Rights)
  3. Montana State Service Animal Definition
  4. Fair Housing Act Definition
  5. Air Carrier Access Act – For Air Travel
  6. Where Are Service Animals Allowed in Public?
  7. What Businesses Need To Know
  8. Registration, Certification, Training, Licensing
  9. Service Animals Are Not Pets
  10. Service Animals in Housing

Service Dog Laws in Montana – The Different Service Animal Definitions

Different service animal definitions
Photo @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.

Let’s begin with perhaps the most prominent and well-known definition of service animal. This definition comes to us from the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act.Opens in a new tab. This act governs the use of these amazing animals when public access rights are concerned.

ADA Service Animal Definition For Public Access Rights

ADA Service Animal Definition for Public Access Rights
Photo @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

According to the ADA, a service animal is a dog or sometimes, a miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work, or perform certain tasks, for someone who lives with a disability, and the work that the animal does needs to be directly related to the disability. Service animals are not pets.

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

Emotional support animals are not service animals under this definition. In other words, emotional support animals do not have public access rights.

Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws, Easy Guide & FAQs Opens in a new tab.

service dog vs emotional support dog U.S.

Service Dog Laws in Montana – Montana State Service Animal Definition

Montana state service animal definition
Photo @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.

In Montana, the service animal definition seems to be the same as the federal ADA definition. But I thought I should include it just for clarity’s sake.

A service animal in Montana is a dog or a miniature horse that is individually trained to provide assistance to someone who lives with a disability.

A service animal is not a pet. An emotional support animal does not count as a service animal under this definition.

Fair Housing Act Definition of Assistance Animal

Fair housing act definition of assistance animal
Photo @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) Opens in a new tab., which is a federal act, service animals are known as assistance animals, probably because their definition is more broad compared to the ADA one. This definition is written broadly enough and includes emotional support animals.

“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.” – FHAOpens in a new tab.

Emotional Support Animals

This means that while emotional support animals do not have public access rights, and can not be brought to restaurants and other public places, they do indeed have some rights when it comes to housing situations.

Air Carrier Access Act Definition Of Service Animals For Air Travel

service dog doodle
Photo @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

According to the ACAAOpens in a new tab., “a service animal is as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” – ACAA. Opens in a new tab.

Emotional support animals are not recognized as service animals under this definition. While it is up to individual airlines to make their own rules and policies, air carriers may treat emotional support animals the same as pets under the ACAA policy.

Read more: American Airlines Service Dog Info – The Easy Guide

Service Dog Laws in Montana – Where Are Service Animals Allowed in Public?

Where are service animals allowed in public?
Photo @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

ADA-defined service animals are allowed in all and any public facilities and accommodations, with a few exceptions. Basically, people with disabilities who have an ADA-defined service dog are generally allowed to go anywhere the public can go.

Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws, Easy Guide & FAQs Opens in a new tab.

There are exceptions in place for:

  • Religious organizations
  • Swimming pools (although the service animals must be allowed on the pool deck, change rooms, and anywhere else the public can go)
  • Sensitive environments where a dog’s presence would be a safety concern, such as a hospital operating room or burn unit (but typically they are allowed in the ER)

Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?

This means that service animals with their handler are allowed to go almost anywhere you can imagine, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Gyms
  • Recreation Centres
  • Movie theatres
  • Libraires
  • Cafeterias
  • Hospitals
  • Taxis
  • Busses
  • Grocery Stores
  • Malls
  • Concerts
  • Government buildings
  • Anywhere else the public is normally invited or allowed
Where are service dogs allowed?
Photo @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.

What Businesses Need To Know about Service Dog Laws in Montana

Businesses and other “covered entities” as the ADA likes to call them, must be aware of service animals and the laws around them so as to not inadvertently or otherwise discriminate against people with disabilities.

Asking someone about a disability is personal information and not permitted under the ADA service animal laws. Businesses, and other covered entities, in fact, can only ask people who are using service animals these two questions:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

If the person with the service animal provides the appropriate response, then they must be granted access with their service animal to programs, facilities, premises, products, services, etc., without any further questioning.

Service Dog Laws in Montana – Businesses May Not:

  • Ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability
  • Ask for any kind of documentation that the animal has been trained, licensed, registered, or certified
  • Require or request a fee or surcharge due to the service animal

Speaking of which…

Service Dog Laws in Montana – Registration, Certification, Training, Licensing

Service Animal Registration Not Necessary
  • Registration – A legitimate national or state-wide service dog or service animal registration system is not in existence. If you see service animal or service dog registration websites online, these are not legitimate. They are not recognized by the ADA nor the U.S. Department of Justice. Buying one of these pieces of papers does not turn a dog into a service dog. Be aware of scams. Service animals do not need to be registered under the ADA, or any other laws.
  • Certification – Similarly, service animals do not need to be certified under the ADA laws or any other laws. Some service animal training schools might issue a certificate of completion, but these are completely optional. Beware of scam websites that sell service dog certification paperwork. Again, a piece of paper does not turn a dog into a service dog.
  • TrainingAll service dogs are trained by definition. If you recall, a service animal is an animal that has been individually trained to do work or tasks for someone with a disability. However, the ADA states that the people who use service animals have a right to train the dog themselves. There is not necessarily a need for any service dog or service animal to be professionally trained. Professional service dog training organizations are amazing, and they are out there, but they often have long waiting lists and limited resources. So, many people end up training their dog on their own, and this is perfectly permissible under the ADA laws.
  • Licensing – The ADA does not require that service dogs or service animals be licensed as such. However, service animals are prone to state- or city/county-specific dog licensing and vaccination requirements. In other words, if a city requires that all dogs be vaccinated against rabies and licensed, then service dogs, too, must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed by that city or county.
Service dog registration
Photo @bartek_spaniel_wspanialyOpens in a new tab.

Service Dog Laws in Montana – Service Animals Are Not Pets

One good thing to know is that service animals are not pets. They are trained, working, medically necessary animals that help people with disabilities to live their lives.

Therefore, “no pets” or “no animals” policies do not apply to service animals. Businesses do not need to completely discard a “no pets policy,” but rather, to modify it to allow for the access of service animals and their handlers.

Photo @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

Service Dog Laws in Montana – Service Animals in Housing

Service dog laws in Montana are clear about people with disabilities who use service animals in housing. Any person with a disability that has a service animal or who obtains a service animal is entitled under the law to full and equal access to all and any kind of housing accommodations.

Furthermore, landlords and other housing providers must not charge people with disabilities who use service animals an extra fee, or a pet deposit for the service animal. Service animals are not pets.

The person using the service animal is still liable for any damages that the service animal may do to the premises.

Service DOG
Photo @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.

more to come…

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