Welcome to Service Dog Laws New Hampshire
Welcome to our service dog laws in New Hampshire guide and FAQ page, updated for 2023.
Service dog laws in New Hampshire require that a specially trained service dog (sometimes called an assistance dog) be allowed to accompany a person with a disability to all public accommodations and public carriers, with a few exceptions. There are multiple laws that govern the use of these special animals. For a related article, check out our guide to Emotional Support Animal Laws in New Hampshire.
In this detailed guide, we’ll go through some of the most common questions about service dogs in the state of New Hampshire. 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 centers, schools, buses, taxis, hotels, Airbnb, amusement parks, doctor’s offices, hospitals, trains, and National Parks, just as a few examples.
Multiple Service Animal Laws
It’s good to be aware that there are multiple laws that govern the use of service animals and the people who use them. This is part of the confusion around these animals.
- 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 taken to the skies with their handler. Service animals are allowed in the cabin of airplanes with their handler as long as they 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, certain states extend the same rights to service dogs in training, as fully trained animals have.
- Section 504 – is similar to the ADA, and protects the rights of students with disabilities in educational settings.
- IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – is yet another law in place for students with disabilities in the United States.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the employment division of the ADA.
- Read more on our blog about the federal ADA public access rights that are the same for all states: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – Summary & FAQ
Service Animal Definitions
Since there are different service animal definitions depending on context (public access rights, air travel, housing) we’ll go through the different ones right now. As you’ll see, they are similar, but the differences are important to understand.
The ADA Service Animal Definition for Public Access Rights
The ADA stands for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is a federal wide-ranging civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination based on disability.
Under the ADA, the following “covered entities” that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the business or facility where the public is normally invited or allowed to go.
- State governments
- Local governments
- Nonprofit organizations
The ADA law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in:
- State and local government
- Public accommodations
- Commercial facilities
- United States Congress
Under the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act federal laws, “Service animal means any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for purposes of this definition.”
The work or tasks that the dog does must be directly related to a specific person’s disability. And, the work must help to mitigate at least some of the effects of that disability.
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 Fair Housing Act (FHA) Definition of Assistance Animal
Under the FHA (Fair Housing Act), “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.”
The Air Carrier Access Act Definition of Service Animal
Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), “A service animal means 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. Animal species other than dogs, emotional support animals, comfort animals, companion animals, and service animals in training are not service animals. Read more on our blog: American Airlines Service Dog Info – The Easy Guide
What is a Therapy Animal?
A Therapy Dog is sometimes confused with a service dog. But, therapy dogs are not service dogs. A therapy dog is someone’s pet. It has been:
- Trained, tested, registered, and insured to go with its owner to visit patients and residents of hospitals, nursing homes, and sometimes other places, to ease stress and bring joy to the people there.
- Therapy dogs are not been trained to perform a specific disability mitigating task. Therefore, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA laws.
- A therapy dog is legally a pet. It can’t go anywhere that pets aren’t allowed without permission from the facility owner.
What is a Disability Under the ADA?
In order to be protected by the ADA laws, someone must have a disability. But what is a disability according to the ADA laws?
According to the ADA, a person with a disability:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- Has a history or record of such impairment
- Or who is perceived by others as having such impairment
- The ADA doesn’t specifically name all impairments that are covered
Where Are Service Dogs Allowed?
- Under the ADA laws, service dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers anywhere that an individual with a disability is allowed to enter
- In other words, nearly anywhere that the general public is allowed or invited to go (there are a few exceptions)
- This includes grocery stores, malls, movie theatres, restaurants, buses, taxis, community centers, government buildings, etc.
In other words, businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service dogs into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go.
This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including:
- Grocery stores
- Department stores
- Medical offices
- Health clubs
- + more
- Read more on our blog: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Psychiatric Service Dogs
Psychiatric Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals aren’t the same.
- If a dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal (psychiatric service dog).
- However, if the dog’s mere presence provides comfort, and the dog is not trained to do a task for a specific person’s disability, then that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA (emotional support animal).
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 behaviors
- Alerting the handler to rage or other types of strong emotions
- Interrupting self-harming behaviors
- 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 on our blog: 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.
- Disability-Related Tasks are tasks that a service dog has been trained to do and that mitigate the effects of a person’s disabling condition (disability)
- These tasks are the legal basis for granting access rights to service dog handlers with disabilities under the ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act
The work or tasks done by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability. The training must be specific to the person using the animal. A service animal is not a pet.
The disability could be:
- Or another mental disability
The tasks or work done by the animal may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Helping to guide someone who is visually impaired or blind
- Alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Helping someone with mobility or balance
- Alerting others and protecting someone having a seizure
- Retrieving objects
- Bringing attention to the presence of allergens
- Providing physical support and help with balance and stability to someone with a mobility disability
- Helping someone with a psychiatric or neurological disability by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors and/or patterns
- Reminding someone living with a mental illness to take their prescribed medications
- Calming someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack
- Doing other specific work or performing other special tasks
- SSigDOG is Sensory Signal Dog or Social Signal dog. These are service dog that has been trained to assist someone with autism. The service dog typically alerts their human handler to distracting repetitive movements which are common with people living with autism. This allows the person to stop the movement.
- Psychiatric Service Dogs are a type of service dog that has been trained to perform “work” or “tasks” that help people with psychiatric disabilities to detect the onset of certain, specific episodes and lessen their effects.
- Seizure Response Dogs are a type of service dog that is trained to help somebody who has a seizure disorder. How the dog serves the person will depend on individual needs. The seizure response service dog might do a variety of tasks, such as stand guard over their human during a seizure to keep the person safe, or the dog might go and get help.
- A few dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance to sit down or move to a safe place, but it seems like this can’t reliably be trained in just any dog.
- Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus)
Service Animal Trainers in New Hampshire
What is a service animal trainer in New Hampshire? A service animal trainer is:
- Any person who is employed to train dogs to be service animals
- Someone who is volunteering to raise dogs for a provider of service animals for people with disabilities
- An individual trainer who helps a person with disabilities to train his or her own service animal
- An individual trainer who tests an animal to verify its eligibility for the New Hampshire service animal tag
- Read more on our blog: Service Dog Training Basics & FAQ
Service Dogs in Training (SDiT)
Service dogs in New Hampshire and other states 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 dogs 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. Check it out on our blog: Service Animal In Training – U.S. State Guide
At this time, only four states do not cover service animals in training under their public accommodation laws.
A service animal trainer, while engaged in the actual training process and activities of such animals, shall have the same rights and privileges with respect to access to public facilities, and the same responsibilities as are applicable to persons with disabilities using a service animal.New Hampshire Code
Permanent Municipal Registration and Licensing for a Service Dog
While the ADA does not require service dog registration, service dogs are not exempt from local dog licensing requirements that apply to all dogs. Dog owners in local cities and towns must register their dogs with their City Hall.
For service dogs in New Hampshire, a Permanent Service Dog Tag Registration is a way for an owner to permanently register their Service Animal with their city or town.
Service dog owners must pay a one-time fee, not the recurring yearly registration fee for all pets.
Owners of a certified Service Animal are required to provide an ID card or diploma from an accredited dog training facility such as (but not limited to):
- Guide Dog Foundation
- The Seeing Eye, Inc.
- Paws with a Cause
- NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans
- Canine Companions for Independence
For owner-trained service dogs, a letter on letterhead from a certified dog trainer is required, stating that the dog has passed the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test (ADI PAT).
In addition, a letter from a healthcare professional is required. This letter must state that you require the use of a service dog, in order to perform tasks directly related to your disability.
You do not need to disclose the disability. This is in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPA).
- Reference: NH Governors Commission on Disability
Service Dog Registration & Certification
The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in New Hampshire or any other state in the U.S. Service dogs are protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws.
In addition, there is no state registration system in place for New Hampshire (unless your city requires all dogs to be registered or licensed).
Registration and certification done online from non-government 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 blog Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate? to learn more about registrations, certifications, and why they are not required.
However, someone who uses a service dog must meet the legal definition of “disability.”
In addition, the service dog must be individually trained to perform tasks or “work” that mitigates the owner’s disability.
Service Dogs must also behave properly in public. This means no unwelcome sounds, unwanted contact with others, or disruption of a business.
Service Animals that pose a direct threat to the health and/or safety of others, by growling or lunging can be banned from public access. Service animals can also be banned if they are not housebroken and if they are not under the control of their handler.
It is important to note that it is the owner who has access rights and not the service dog itself. A Service Dog without its handler has no particular access rights of its own.
Fake Service Dog Registration & Certification
You may have noticed that there are several “resources” online that frankly offer fake service dog certifications or registrations in order to make a profit.
Real service dogs do not require certification. Buying one of these pieces of paper online does not magically turn a dog into a service dog. So, fake service dogs might have them.
You can spot these fake certification or registration places, many of them online because they will sell their products to anyone. This is without ever actually training or evaluating the dog themselves. They are making a quick buck off unsuspecting people.
It seems that they are being used by pet owners that want an easy way to get their non-service animal pets into public places and gain access to public facilities where their pets would otherwise not be allowed.
Unfortunately, these businesses do a disservice to real service animals.
In addition to taking money from people with disabilities, false service dog registrations or certifications can diminish the reputation of real service dogs by behaving like a regular pet, rather than providing highly trained services that help with a person’s disability.
Who Qualifies for a Service Animal?
The ADA defines an individual with a disability as:
- A person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- A person who has a history or record of such impairment
- Or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment
The ADA does not limit the type of disabilities for which service dogs can
be used. There is great flexibility with regard to the nature and severity of someone’s physical or mental “disability.”
The basic idea behind the ADA law is that if you have any condition that makes it hard to perform, or limits an important life activity, you will qualify.
Life activity might only be a problem during certain times. One example is dizziness. This can lead to balance problems, low blood sugar, or seizures.
Technically speaking, only dogs are service animals under the federal ADA definition of 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 to miniature horses whenever possible. Reasonable modifications need to be made in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by a 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
Info For Businesses
It’s obviously important for businesses and other “covered entities” to be aware of service dog laws in New Hampshire as well as federal laws. If not, they could be accused of discrimination.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the following:
- Asking about a disability
- Requiring medical documentation
- Requiring a special identification card or training documentation for the dog (or mini horse)
- Ask that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task
- Charge an extra fee because of the animal
- Segregate the customer with a disability from other customers
Permitted Questions to Ask
If the reason for the service dog is obvious, then businesses and other covered entities may not inquire about the use of the animal.
When it’s not obvious – and many disabilities are invisible – businesses may only ask two questions to someone using a service dog. That’s it.
The questions 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?
Service Animals Under Control
- Service animals must be under control at all times & should not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others
- They must comply with state and local animal control laws
- 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.
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
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
The Governor’s Commission on Disability
The New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disability (GCD), a State agency created pursuant to RSA 275-C, serves people with disabilities, advises the Governor, Legislature, and other state agencies regarding disability-related matters, and provides technical assistance relative to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability laws. The GCD sits administratively within the Governor’s office, and its Chair and Commission Members are appointed by the Governor.New Hampshire Commission on Disability