The complete and amazing service dog laws Nebraska guide is now here. Service dogs are utilized by people who are living with disabilities. These special animals help people to live life, and to more fully participate in everyday life activities that would otherwise be difficult or perhaps even impossible.
There has been a lot of confusion around service animals as well as other types of working dogs like therapy dogs, emotional support animals, and others.
This guide will hopefully ease the confusion and provide the most up to date info on all of these amazing animals, specifically in the state of Nebraska.
Jump to a section:
- What is a Service Animal?
- What are Service Dog Work or Tasks?
- Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Animals, Comfort Animals, Companion Animals
- Anxiety Dogs
- Professional Service Dog Training
- Service Animals In Training
- Questions Businesses Can Ask
- Service Dog Vests, Harnesses, Tags
- Care & Supervision of Service Animals
- Where Are Service Dogs Allowed?
- Service Dogs in Hospitals
- Service Dogs in Ambulances
- More Than One Service Dog
- Common FAQ’s
1. What is a Service Animal?
Partly why the world of service animals is so confusing is that there are multiple definitions of service dog, service animal, or sometimes they’re called assistance animals.
What do the service dog laws Nebraska tell us about the definition of these amazing animals?
Whichever definition you use will depend on what you are needing it for.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, governs the use of service animals when public access rights are concerned
- The Fair Housing Act, or FHA, governs the use of service animals and they call them “assistance animals” whenever a housing situation is concerned
- The Air Carrier Access Act governs the use of service animals during air travel
Let’s just begin with the definition of service animal under the federal ADA (service dog laws Nebraska), since that is the most commonly needed definition, and it’s necessary to know whenever public access rights are involved.
According to the updated ADA definition, a service animal must be a dog, and it can be any kind, any size, and any breed of dog.
The dog must be individually trained to help somebody who is living with a disability. The work or tasks that the dog does must be directly related to a specific person’s disability.
2. What are Service Dog Work or Tasks?
There are so many tasks and different types of work that service dogs can do. It’s pretty amazing.
Here are just a few examples of the work or tasks that service dogs can do for people who are living with disabilities, in order to provide relief from certain effects of a disability.
- Opening and closing doors, and holding a door open for someone
- Retrieving dropped items, such as keys and handing them back to the person
- Alerting someone if their blood sugar is becoming too high or too low (diabetic service dog)
- Waking someone up from a nightmare (PTSD, psychiatric service dog)
- Reminding someone to take their medication
- Making sure someone with autism doesn’t get lost
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Guiding someone who is blind across a busy street
- Providing balance and stability for someone who is living with mobility challenges
- Alerting someone who is hard of hearing to certain sounds, such as door bells, phone calls, or smoke alarms
- Finding an elevator, and pressing the button
- Carrying bags from a grocery store
- So much more…
3. Emotional Support Animals, Comfort Animals, Therapy Animals, Companion Animals
Emotional support animals, comfort animals, therapy animals, and companion animals are not considered service dogs under the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act (for public access rights) for service dog laws Nebraska.
This is because these types of animals have not been individually trained to do work or tasks for a specific person who lives with a disability.
This doesn’t mean that these animals aren’t still great. It just means that they don’t have the same public access rights as service dogs.
In other words, a service dog must be allowed into a restaurant, but an emotional support dog can be excluded.
In addition, the rules are different when it comes to housing situations, as the Fair Housing Act has a different, and much more broad, definition of assistance animal, and we will certainly get to that in this guide.
This basically means that emotional support animals do have certain rights when it comes to renting, and virtually any other kind of housing arrangement.
4. Anxiety Dogs
You may be wondering about dogs for anxiety, and whether a dog who helps someone with anxiety would be considered a service dog under the ADA service dog laws Nebraska.
The thing is, it depends…
Think back to the original definition of a service dog under the ADA, which is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or certain tasks that help to mitigate some of the effects of someone’s disability.
So, if a dog has been trained to do something during, or at the beginning of a panic attack, for example, such as bring water and medication to a person, and by doing that, it helps to lessen the effects of this event, then, by all means, this is considered a service dog.
If the dog helps a person during an anxiety event or panic attack simply by being there, then that would be an emotional support animal. It hasn’t been specifically trained for the person, however, it helps with its mere presence, and this counts for a lot. It just doesn’t count for public access rights at this time.
5. Professional Service Dog Training – Service Dog Laws Nebraska
Under the federal ADA and service dog laws Nebraska, including service dog laws Nebraska, service dogs do not need to be professionally trained. People who use service dogs have a right to train the dog themselves. Requiring someone to show evidence that their dog has been professionally trained is prohibited under the ADA.
Of course, there are many brilliant professional service dog training programs in the United States, and around the world. These help to provide many people with highly trained, amazing service dogs that help to dramatically improve their quality of life.
Even though it can cost upwards of $40,000, and about two years, to train one service dog, service dogs are most often provided free of charge or at a very low cost for the people who need them.
These organizations rely on funding from donations, sponsorships, volunteers, and many other methods.
They often have long wait lists that can be more than two years. They often have limited resources. Sometimes, their process is delayed due to not having enough volunteer puppy raisers.
That is why some people either train their dog themselves, or, they get a local dog trainer to help with the process. There are many ways that service dogs can be trained, and it’s a personal decision of the people who use them.
6. Service Animals In Training – Service Dog Laws Nebraska
Under service dog laws Nebraska for public access rights, service dogs that are still in training do not have the same rights as fully trained service dogs.
It’s good to know that certain states, however, have different laws and rules, that might include service dogs in training. So, check with individual states to see their particular rules.
It seems like, at this time, service dog laws Nebraska in particular do not include anything different from the federal ADA service dog laws.
This means that service dogs that are still in training don’t have the same rights to enter into a public place with their handler, such as a hotel, restaurant, or hospital. Still, it never hurts to ask a business owner if you’re in a situation where you’d like a service dog in training to be included.
7. Questions Businesses Can Ask
If you’re wondering what types of questions you’re permitted to ask as part of service dog laws Nebraska, you’re not alone. Obviously, businesses can’t just ask personal questions to people who are living with disabilities.
The ADA service dog laws, which include Nebraska and all other states, give us the guidelines on what we can ask people who are with service dogs.
Sometimes it’s obvious that someone using a service dog has a disability, like when a service dog is clearly helping someone who can’t see to cross a busy street, or when a service dog is pulling a wheelchair, or when a service dog is helping somebody with balance.
However, there are a lot of disabilities that are simply invisible. In these circumstances is when it might be tempting to inquire about someone and the need for their service dog.
Under the ADA service dog laws Nebraska, there are actually only two questions that you can ask. They are:
1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
(2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Staff may not:
- Request any documentation for the dog of any kind, including registration, certification, training, licensing, or anything like that. Service dogs do not need to be professionally trained, and the people who use service dogs have the right to train the dog themselves
- Require that the dog demonstrate its task or work that it does to help the person who is living with a disability
- Ask questions about the someones disability, including asking personal questions
8. Service Dog Vests, Harnesses, Tags
The service dog laws Nebraska, under the ADA for public access rights, do not require people who use service dogs to have a vest, harness, or special dog identification tag for their animal.
Requiring any of these types of things as a condition of entry to a business, product, service, or another entity, is discrimination.
9. Care & Supervision of Service Dogs
Service dog laws Nebraska, under the federal ADA laws, indicate that businesses, organizations, and other “covered entities” are not obligated to take care of, or supervise service animals.
This includes bathroom breaks, feeding, veterinary care, grooming, and other things. This is the responsibility of the service dog handler; the dog trainer or the person using the animal to help with a disability.
10. Where Are Service Dogs Allowed?
Under the service dog laws Nebraska (ADA federal laws for public access rights) service dogs are allowed to go with their handler wherever members of the public are generally allowed or invited to go.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Movie theatres
- Public & private transportation
- Government buildings
- Salad bars
- Self-service food lines
- Communal food preparation areas (dormitories, shelters)
*There are a few exceptions, such as religious places and certain hospital areas like the operating room and burn unit, where the presence of an animal would compromise safety.
11. Service Dog Laws Nebraska – Service Dogs in Hospitals
Under the federal ADA laws, service dogs are allowed to go with their human wherever the public is allowed to go, with a few exceptions.
Generally, service dogs must be allowed to go into hospital patient rooms. They are also permitted anywhere else in the hospital that the general public and patients are allowed to go.
Service dogs may not be excluded on the grounds that the hospital staff can provide the same services for a person.
If a patient is unable to care for their service dog while in the hospital, they can arrange for a family or friend to come and help.
If that is not an option, the hospital staff can arrange to place the animal in a boarding facility or make other appropriate arrangements.
Before staff does that, however, they need to offer the patient a chance to make their own arrangements.
It’s always best if the person and service dog aren’t separated.
12. Service Dogs In Ambulances
Generally speaking, service dogs must be permitted in ambulances with their human.
But, if the space in the ambulance is crowded and the dog’s presence would interfere with the emergency medical staff’s ability to treat the patient, the dog can be excluded.
The staff should make other arrangements to have the dog transported to the hospital.
13. More Than One Service Dog – Service Dog Laws Nebraska
Sometimes, someone living with a disability may indeed require more than one service dog to help them with everyday life activities. Someone may have two different disabilities, and may need two different dogs, one for each purpose.
An example of this would be one dog for autism support, to keep a person with autism safe. And a second dog as a seizure alert dog, to warn of an oncoming seizure and to keep the person safe during the event.
Or, someone may have one disability that requires two different dogs. An example of this would be someone who uses two service dogs for stability and mobility support.
Staff at a business or another entity can ask the person the two questions as noted above, and whenever possible, both dogs should be included and allowed.
Sometimes, however, it may not be possible to include both dogs because of logistical reasons.
If one dog could fit under the table at a restaurant, for example, but the second dog couldn’t fit… and if the only other space in the area is an aisle where the dog would be blocking everyone from getting through... then it’s reasonable that the second dog can be excluded.
Staff can ask that the second dog wait outside.
14. Service Dog Laws Nebraska Certification
Under the federal ADA laws, people who use service dogs have the right to train the dog themselves, and service dogs do not need to be certified in Nebraska or in any other state.
In fact, there is no federal or state service dog certification system in existence.
You may have seen websites online that offer service dog certifications and other service dog paraphernalia that attempts to look real. Unfortunately, these are not legitimate.
They are not recognized by the ADA or the Department of Justice. Buying one of these pieces of paper from the internet does not turn a dog into a service dog.
15. Common FAQ’s
Here are some answers to common questions regarding service dogs, in no particular order.
- If your city or county requires that all dogs be vaccinated, registered, and/or licensed, then service dogs must also be vaccinated, registered, and/or licensed. Service dogs aren’t exempt from local animal control, or public health requirements
- Mandatory registration of a service dog because it is a service dog is prohibited under the service dog laws Nebraska & ADA federal laws. This is discrimination. Voluntary registration is okay, as is found in some universities and other institutions, to keep track of service animals in case of an emergency situation.
- Service dogs can be any kind of dog, any size, and any breed.
- People with service dogs can not be excluded from a business or another entity based on the breed of their dog.
- If a city or county has a ban on certain dog breeds, service dogs are exempt. Service dogs may be any breed.
- Service dogs can be excluded from a business or another entity if they aren’t housebroken (if they “go to the bathroom” inappropriately), or if they are posing a direct threat to the health and safety of other people, or if they are out of control
- Service dogs must be in control of their handler at all times, and this includes during stays in hotels. Service dogs must never be left alone in a hotel room. The dog needs to be controlled by a leash, tether, harness, or, if those aren’t available due to the nature of a disability, then voice control needs to be utilized
- If someone using a service dog believes they have been discriminated against, they have a few options. They could file a complaint with the Department of Justice. Or, they could file a private lawsuit in federal court. This would be a charge of discrimination under the federal ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act
- Service dogs may not ride in shopping carts, unless for some strange reason, that is the only place the person with the disability can make it work. Usually, the dog should stay on the floor, or be carried close to the person in cases where this is needed due to the nature of the service dog’s work or tasks
- Service dogs are not allowed to sit on chairs in restaurants or other places where food is served, nor, to be fed at the table
- Service dog laws Nebraska do not cover swimming pools. In other words, service dogs can be excluded from getting into a swimming pool. But, a service dog must be allowed onto the pool deck, change room, and other areas where members of the public are allowed
- Religious organizations and other religious institutions are exempt from the federal service dog ADA laws, and so can be excluded. But, check with each individual state to see if separate state laws exist
- Service dogs are allowed at private and public colleges, universities, and other educational institutions
- Commercial airlines do not need to comply with the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act. The ACAA or Air Carrier Access Act governs the use of service dogs in the air
- And ADA as well as the FHA, or Fair Housing Act, govern the use of service dogs in housing situations. Service dogs must be permitted into virtually any housing situation
Read more: Service Animal In Training Laws by State