Welcome to Service Dog Laws Louisiana
Hello and welcome to our updated guide on service dog laws Louisiana. In this article, we’ll go through all of the relevant federal and state laws so that you can more easily understand at least the basics about service dogs in this state.
Service dogs are specially trained animals that help people who live with disabilities. Service dogs are trained to perform certain work or tasks for people. These work or tasks are directly related to a particular disability. Sometimes people pass off their pet saying it’s a service dog to get access to non-pet-friendly places; these are fake service dogs.
In this detailed guide, we’ll go through some of the most common questions about service dogs in the state of Louisiana. This includes where they are allowed in public, housing information, what businesses need to know, plus much more.
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.
What is a Service Dog in Louisiana?
The following is a quote from the Louisiana State Legislature. There are different definitions of service animal, depending on the context. The Americans with Disabilities Act for public access rights, Air Carrier Access Act for air travel, and Fair Housing Act for housing all have slightly different definitions.
Here is the Louisiana State definition.
(3) “Service dog” means a dog who has been trained or is being trained to do work or perform a task for a person with a disability. “Service dog” refers to a dog trained as any of the following:
(a) A dog providing assistance during a medical crisis
(b) A guide dog
(c) A hearing dog
(d) A mobility dog
(e) A seizure alert dog
(f) A service dog providing assistance to persons, including veterans with traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder
(g) An autism service dog
Where Are Service Dogs Allowed?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act law, a person with a disability does not have to be separated from their service dog when they are using a public service or public facility. This means they are allowed to go most anywhere that the general public is normally allowed or invited to go.
Here are a few examples:
- Hotels and other lodging establishments
- Public transportation terminals, depots, and stations
- Restaurants and other places that serve food and drink
- Sales or rental establishments
- Service establishments
- Any place of public gathering, such as an auditorium or convention center
- Places of entertainment and exhibit, like theaters or sports stadiums
- Gyms, bowling alleys, and other places of exercise or recreation
- Recreational facilities, such as zoos and parks
- Libraries, museums, and other places where items are collected or displayed publicly
- Educational institutions
- Social service centres
- Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Info For Businesses
People with disabilities are not required under the law to show proof of certification for their service dog.
Public establishments may only ask two things to a person with a disability using a service dog, and those are:
- Is the animal required because of a disability?
- What type of work is the dog trained to perform?
Establishments May Not:
- Ask about the person’s disability
- Require medical documentation
- Require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog
- Ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task
Registration and Certification
The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in Louisiana or any other state in the US. Service dogs are protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act.
Registration and certification done online from random websites do not convey any legal rights under the ADA or the Department of Justice. Buying a piece of paper from the internet does not turn a dog into a service dog. Check out our article “Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate?” to find out more and learn why registrations are not required.
Can You Ask for Proof of a Service Dog in Louisiana?
Businesses and other public entities are not permitted to ask for proof of a service dog from a person with a disability. Requiring any kind of documentation as a condition of entry is prohibited. In employment and housing situations, documentation can be required, but only to state that the animal is necessary. Personal details about a disability are not required.
Businesses need to be careful around people with disabilities and service animals. If businesses are unaware of the laws and rules, they could easily be accused of discrimination against a person with a disability.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act:
- People with disabilities have a right to train their dog themselves, or with the help of a trainer or organization
- Professional service dog training is not required
- Vests, ID, special tags and/or special harnesses are not required; service dogs may or may not have these
- People who use service animals are not required to carry documentation; asking for documentation is prohibited
Work or Tasks
By definition, service animals are specially trained dogs (sometimes a miniature horse) that are trained for a specific person’s disability to perform certain disability-related “work” or “tasks.”
People sometimes refer to this as “task-trained,” because it goes far above and beyond basic obedience and socialization training.
No matter what definition you look at, almost all of them include a stipulation that a service animal do “work” or “tasks” for a particular person’s disability. (Exception: The FHA Fair Housing Act definition includes emotional support animals, who usually don’t do “tasks”).
So let’s talk a bit more about what these tasks are, exactly. It’s important to know that the tasks are varied and wide-ranging. There are a large number of different tasks that service animals can do.
Here are some common examples of service animal work or tasks. Not an exhaustive list by any means.
- Guiding a person who is blind or can’t see well
- Alerting someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to sounds (like their name, a knock at the door, a smoke alarm, or even intruders)
- Providing reasonable protection
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Grabbing dropped items
- Carrying grocery bags
- Paying for items with a bank/credit card
- Opening and closing doors
- Assisting someone during a seizure
- Providing physical support and/or balance and stability
- Reminding someone with an intellectual disability to take a medication
- Keeping a child with a disability safe and from wandering off and getting lost
- Autism assistance
- Helping someone with a psychiatric or neurological condition by interrupting problem behaviour (As one example, read about how DPT Service Dogs help people with PTSD and other conditions)
- Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus website)
Think of a service dog as an aid that helps someone with a disability to better access services (or to be able to better access and enjoy life in general), much like a wheelchair or cane. Service animals are not pets, even though they may appear like pets.
“Person with a disability” means a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities and who has a record of such impairment or who is regarded as having such an impairment, including military veterans with traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder.
Read more on our blog: What disabilities qualify for a service dog?
Summary of Service Animal Laws
Part of the reason why service dogs can be so confusing is that there are multiple laws around them. Things can seem confusing fast. Here is a summary of the different laws relevant to Louisiana and their main purpose in general.
- The ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act – is a federal law. It governs the use of service animals when public access rights are concerned. This law is also referred to for housing situations and employment situations with service animals.
- The FHA – Fair Housing Act – is another federal law that governs the use of service animals – or what is known in this context as “assistance animal” when housing situations are concerned.
- The ACAA – Air Carrier Access Act – is what is used when service animals will be taking to the skies with their handler. Fully trained service animals are allowed in the cabin of air planes with their handler as long as the meet the ACAA requirements, and fill out any required paperwork or documents prior to their flight.
- State-specific service animal laws. Even though we have the federal ADA laws, each individual state may or may not have additional or “state-specific” service dog laws for their own area. Check with individual states for anything that may be different from the ADA laws. A common example is that under the ADA, service dogs in training are not allowed public access rights. However, most states extend some kind of rights to service dogs in training
- Section 504 – is similar to the ADA, and federally protects the rights of students with disabilities in educational settings.
- IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – is yet another law that in place for students with disabilities in the United States.
Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – Summary & FAQ
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.
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, and Louisiana 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.
Control of Service Animals
- Service animals must be under control at all times & should not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others
- Service animals must comply with state and local animal control laws
Service animals should be kept at a person’s side quietly, unless they are performing a specific task.
Service animals must be leashed, harnessed, or tethered unless this may interfere with the service animals’ work. Or, if a disability prevents using them. In those cases, service animals still need to be controlled through voice, hand signals, or another effective way.
- There is no formal service animal certification process or paperwork that is recognized by Louisiana State or the federal government
- Having said that, air carriers (airlines), employers, and housing providers such as landlords may require certain and specific documentation
- Documentation may not be required for public access as a condition of entry
Identification & Service Dog Vests
Service animal vests, dog tags, identification tags and other “working animal” accessories are not legally required or recognized. Many people still use these types of things to make it easier for other people in public to identify a service animal.
A dog license and/or rabies tag are necessary if those are required by Louisiana State or local laws.
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
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
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
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 animals 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.
Service Dogs in Training (SDiT)
Service dogs do not need to be trained by a professional service dog training program, or professional trainer (under the ADA laws). But, they do need to be trained by somebody.
Many people train their dog by themselves or with some help, as many service animal programs have limited resources and long waiting lists.
Under the federal ADA laws, service animals in training do not get the same public access rights as fully trained service animals.
But, most states have some kind of state laws that allow service animals in training some kind of public access rights. Read more on our blog: Service Animal In Training – U.S. State Guide
Louisiana State SDiT Laws
Similar to many other states, in Louisiana, service animals that are in training get the same public access rights as fully trained service animals. This helps allow service dogs in training to be trained in the actual environments they need to become the best service animal they can be.
(1) “Service dog” means a dog who has been trained or is being trained to do work or perform a task for a person with a disability.
During the training of a service dog, any trainer or puppy raiser of such dog shall have the same rights and privileges as a person with a disability to be accompanied by a service dog in any place or facility provided in this Chapter without being required to pay an extra charge for such dog.
However, during the training of a service dog, he shall be liable for any damages done to any person, premises, or facility by the service dog.Louisiana State Code