Service Dog Laws North Dakota – Huge Guide & FAQ [2023]

service dog laws North Dakota

Welcome To Service Dog Laws North Dakota

Service dog laws can be confusing, and there are many reasons for this. This article will go through service dog laws North Dakota and make some sense of it all. Service animals are specially trained type of animal (usually dog) that do certain work or tasks for people who are living with disabilities. Let’s jump right into it or feel free to check out our summary of North Dakota emotional support animal laws.

service dog border collie
Border Collie @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

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.

Medical alert service dog
Medical Alert Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.

Why Service Dog Laws Are Confusing

There are multiple laws that govern the use of service animals. The most common and well-known laws are:

These laws define “service animal” differently, and that is part of the confusion. Fake service dogs, of course, don’t help the situation.

Siberian Husky Service Dog
Kylie’s “Lucy On Duty” Service Dog @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws Easy Guide & FAQ

Service animal laws are also confusing because:

  • There are only two questions that you can ask of someone who is with a service dog
  • Service dogs do not need to wear a vest, patch, carry identification, or other documents. Asking for these documents is not permitted under the ADA laws
  • Service animals do need to be trained, but they don’t need to be trained by a professional organization. People who use service dogs have the right to train the dog themselves
  • There are similar animals that people often confuse with service animals, such as emotional support animals, comfort and companion animals, and therapy animals. We will talk about those, too
Service Animal Laws Service Dog Laws
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.

Service Dog Laws North Dakota Specific

North Dakota state sticks closely to the federal ADA service dog laws but has a few service dog laws of its own. In this article, we will discuss them both and what you need to know about North Dakota state specifically. Read more: Service Dog Laws by State Opens in a new tab.

Service Dog Laws by State
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piperOpens in a new tab.
service dog in training
Service Dog In Training “Bishop”

What is a Service Dog or Service Animal?

Service animals, as defined by the ADA federal laws, are either a dog or sometimes, miniature horses. These special animals are individually trained to assist someone who is living with a disability.

The animal performs certain “work” or “tasks” that help to mitigate the effects of a disability. The work or tasks that the animal does must be directly related to the person’s disability.

It’s important to note that there are other definitions of a service animal or service dog in air travel, employment, and housing contexts.

What is a service dog?
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.
Medical alert service dog
Medical Alert Service Dog “Koda” @thatlilbearkodaOpens in a new tab.

Disabilities could be physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other types of mental disabilities.

Other kinds of animals, whether that be wild or domestic, trained or not trained, are not considered service animals under this definition.

What Service Dogs Can Do
Service animals can help people with a wide variety of visible and invisible disabilities.

Service Dog Laws North Dakota Definition

North Dakota has a more broad definition of “service animal.” Interestingly, it does include animals other than dogs. North Dakota statute defines a service animal as:

“any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to do work, perform tasks, or provide assistance for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The term includes an animal trained to provide assistance or protection services to an individual with a disability, pull a wheelchair, lending balance support, retrieve dropped objects, or provide assistance in a medical crisis.”
North Dakota Law Opens in a new tab.

North Dakota Service Dog Laws
American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog “Bartek” @bartek_spaniel_wspanialyOpens in a new tab.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals, therapy animals, and comfort and companion animals are not service dogs. They do not fit the definition of a service animal because they are not individually trained to do work or tasks for a certain person’s disability.

North Dakota Emotional Support Animals
Therapy Dog “Eddie” with “Boomer” @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.

Emotional support animals help people just with their mere presence. They do not need to be trained at all. Therapy dogs work with a large number of people in different settings, to offset anxiety for example.

Emotional support animals don’t have the same public access rights as service dogs. But, emotional support animals may be accepted into housing situations as a reasonable accommodation.

Emotional Support Animals
Service animals are task-trained for a particular disability. Emotional support animals are not usually task-trained.
Black service dog
Service Dog “Kodiak” @dog.human.duoOpens in a new tab.

Emotional Support Animal Facts:

  • Emotional support animals are not considered service animals under the ADA, even if there is a medical treatment plan that includes their use
  • Emotional support animals can provide companionship, relieve loneliness, help with depression, help with anxiety and certain phobias
  • They do not have specialized training to perform tasks or work that helps people with disabilities
  • Emotional support animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities
Service Dog Facts
Canadian Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.

Emotional Support Animals in Housing

Sometimes, emotional support animals are used by people who don’t have disabilities, but sometimes they are. In the case where someone with a disability utilizes an emotional support animal, protections are in place for certain circumstances.

One of the circumstances is housing. The FHA or Fair Housing Act has a more broad definition of a service animal and includes emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals.

The Fair Housing Act calls service animals assistance animals. Here is their definition of an assistance animal:

“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.”

Service dogs are not pets
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.
Service Dog Bubble Tea
Kylie’s “Lucy On Duty” @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

Under the FHA, someone who lives with a disability, and has a need for an emotional support animal to assist with their disability, can not be discriminated against in housing situations.

This is true even if a building or housing situation has a “no pets” policy. Service animals are not pets, and emotional support animals are not pets, either.

Medical alert service dog
Medical Alert Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.

North Dakota Emotional Support Animal Laws

In North Dakota, emotional support animals are governed by various laws. Here are some facts about ND 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)
  • ESA’s 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 Opens in a new tab.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

What’s the Definition of Disability?

If service dogs are used by people who live with disabilities, you may be wondering, “What exactly is a disability, then?” To that, we look to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) definition of a person with a disability.

Under the ADA, it is “someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual, has a record of the impairment, or is regarded as having the impairment.” North Dakota’s definition of disability is identical to this.

What is a disability for a service dog
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piperOpens in a new tab.

Examples of Service Animal Work or Tasks

The ADA as well as North Dakota state law have provided this listing as a small sample (not an exhaustive list) of the tasks that can be performed by service animals:


• Guiding people who are blind or who live with low vision
• Alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing to important sounds
• Providing non-violent protection or rescue work
• Pulling a wheelchair
• Helping someone during a seizure
• Alerting someone to the presence of allergens
• Retrieving items such as medicine, phone, keys, telephone
• Providing physical support and assistance for people who need help with balance and
stability
• Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by
preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors

Read more on our blog: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks Opens in a new tab.

Service Dog Tasks
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.

Where Are Service Animals Allowed?

Under ADA laws…

The federal ADA laws require that service animals be allowed to accompany their handlers in all areas where members of the public are allowed or invited to go.

Small service dog
Service dogs can be any shape, size, or breed. @vos_ptsd_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

This includes:

  • State and local governments
  • Public schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Public accommodations
  • Commercial facilities
  • Read more on our blog: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
Can service dogs go anywhere?
Border Collie @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

Under North Dakota State Law…

North Dakota state law allows people with disabilities “to be accompanied by a service animal in places of public accommodations, common carriers, facilities of a health care provider, and all places to which the public is generally invited…” North Dakota State Law 25-13-02Opens in a new tab.

Service DOG
Service Dog “Balu” from Portugal

Examples of Public Accommodation

Examples of public accommodations are:

  • Restaurants
  • Theaters
  • Hotels,
  • Grocery stores
  • Hospitals
  • Medical offices
  • Department stores
  • Malls
  • Health clubs
  • Parks
  • Zoos
  • Sporting facilities
  • All public transportation systems such as airports, car rentals, trains/metro systems, buses/shuttles, and demand-response transportation services, such as taxis, limos, and ride-share.
service dog public accommodations
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piperOpens in a new tab.

Service Animals in Training & Service Animal Trainers

ADA Laws

Under the federal ADA Law, a dog must already be fully trained before it can be taken into public places. However, some State or local laws cover animals that are still in training. Read more on our blog: Service Dog in Training Laws by State Opens in a new tab.

Service Dog in Training Laws by State
Working K9 “Remmi” @working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.

North Dakota Laws

North Dakota has laws for service animal trainers and service animals in training. This has to do with admission to public places. Under North Dakota State Law: Opens in a new tab.

A service animal trainer who is with a service animal in training can enter any place of public accommodation, common carrier, facility of a health care provider, and any place the public is generally invited, without being required to pay an extra charge for the service animal in training, provided the following:


a. The trainer must notify an onsite manager that the service animal in training is being brought into the facility or premises


b. The trainer must wear a photo identification card that has been issued by a nationally recognized service animal training program, and


c. The service animal trainer is liable for any damage done to the premises or facility by the service animal in training

Upon receiving notice as provided in subsection 1, the onsite manager may not deny admission to the trainer and the service animal in training without good cause

Service Dog Laws USA
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.
Service dog in training (SDiT)
Kylie’s “Where I Go, You Go” (Hugo) Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

Misrepresentation of Service Animals

Anyone in North Dakota who attempts to gain admission to a public place, and knowingly makes a false claim that a pet is a service animal, will be guilty of an infraction. Opens in a new tab.

For an infraction penalty, a maximum fine of $1,000 may be imposed. Further infractions may be sentenced as Class B misdemeanors.

A Class B misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 30 days’ imprisonment, a $1500 fine, or both.

Misrepresentation of Service Animals
Photo credit: @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.

Penalty for Interfering or Denying Use of Facilities


A person will be guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor if they:

  • Deny access to a person with a service dog
  • Interfere with a person’s admittance to or enjoyment of public places or facilities

Class A misdemeanorsOpens in a new tab. come with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 360 days, a fine of $3,000, or both.

“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @flirty.the.mini.service.horseOpens in a new tab.
Mini Service Horse
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @flirty.the.mini.service.horseOpens in a new tab.

Allergies & Fear of Dogs

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for people with disabilities who use service animals to be denied access to somewhere like a public place, program, or facility.

Businesses that encounter both people with service animals, and people with allergies or fear of dogs, must find a way to accommodate both people.

This can be done by assigning them to different areas in the same room, or perhaps to different rooms in the same facility. Staff may need to get creative.

Read more on our blog: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws Easy Guide & FAQs Opens in a new tab. (Public access rights that are the same for all states).

Allergies and fear of dogs Service Dogs
Kylie’s “Where I Go, You Go” (Hugo) @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

Service Animals Must Be Under Control

The service animal must always be under the control of their owner, handler, or trainer at all times. This can be done with:

  • Harness
  • Leash
  • Tether
  • Voice control
  • Maybe there are other methods
service animals must be under control
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.

When Service Animals May Be Excluded

Under service dog laws in North Dakota as well as ADA laws, service animals may only be excluded for certain reasons or under certain conditions.

There are:

  • If the service dog or service animal is not under control, and the owner does not take effective action to control it
  • If the service animal is posing a direct threat to the health or safety of others
  • If the service animal is not “housebroken,” (i.e. it must know how to “go to the bathroom” appropriately)
When service animals can be excluded
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

Local Animal Control & Public Health Requirements

Service dog owners must comply with local animal control and public health requirements. Some examples of these would be up-to-date vaccinations and licensing.

Service dogs do not need to be specially licensed as service dogs, but if a city requires that all dogs are licensed, then service dogs are not exempt.

Service Dog Working
Photo credit: @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.

No Pets Policies

Service dogs are not pets, and people with disabilities who use service animals are protected under various laws. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities who have a service animal when renting or buying a residential property. This is true even in circumstances where the building has a “no pets” policy.

A public transportation provider cannot deny access even if there is a “no pets” policy. In addition, it may not require the person to pay additional fees because of the dog or to sit in a particular, assigned area with their service animal.

Documentation, Certification, Registration

There are a few common misconceptions about service dogs. Some of these are around the idea of certification, registration, and documentation of service animals.

Service Dog
Service Dog “Kodiak” @dog.human.duoOpens in a new tab.
Service Animal Registration Not Necessary

The facts are:

  • Service animals do not need to be professionally trained as per federal ADA laws. People who use service dogs have a right to train the animal themselves or get help from a trainer or organization if they wish
  • A legitimate national service dog registration agency does not exist. You may see websites online that sell “service dog documentation” or “service dog registration” but these are not recognized by the ADA or the Department of Justice. Buying one of these pieces of paper does not turn a dog into a service dog
  • Likewise, certification is not required, and no federal certification agency for service dogs exists
  • Businesses and other entities may not require people to show documentation of service animal certification, licensing, or training
Medical alert and response service dogs
Tandem Medical Alert and Response Service Dogs @cricket_n_saraphenaOpens in a new tab.

What Businesses Can Ask

When it’s not obvious why someone is using a service animal, staff at businesses and other “covered entities” under the ADA can only ask two questions.

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What task or work is the animal trained to perform for you?

People are not required to disclose any details about their disability, or any other personal information. Requiring that information as a condition of entry is a violation of federal ADA laws.

Cocker spaniel service dog
American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog “Bartek” @bartek_spaniel_wspanialyOpens in a new tab.

Service Animals In Schools

Students are protected under the federal service dog ADA laws, but they are also protected by a few others.

Sometimes, a student may be permitted to have an animal with them in school that may not meet the ADA definition or North Dakota service dog definition.

This may happen when the student’s EIP or Section 504 team has determined the need for the animal to help the student to receive a free and appropriate education.

border collie service dog
Border Collie @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

Service Dogs and Airplanes

When it comes to air travel with service animals, we have yet another federal law to guide us with the rules. We need to look at the Air Carrier Access ActOpens in a new tab. (ACAA). This is a law that applies to people with disabilities on any aircraft.

Generally, airports themselves are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Laws).

The ACAA applies to people with disabilities with a service animal or with an emotional support animal. Read more on our blog: American Airlines Service Dog Guidebook & FAQs

ACAA Service Dog
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.

ACAA Definition of Service Animal

Under the ACAA, a service animal is “any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability, or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support.”

Documentation may be required of passengers that need to travel with an emotional support or
psychiatric service animal. Check with individual airlines for their rules and regulations. If your flight is longer than 8 hours, you may need additional paperwork.

Service dogs at amusement park
Service Dog “Kodiak” & Friends @dog.human.duoOpens in a new tab.

Disability Rights North Dakota Contact Info

ND Protection & Advocacy Project
400 E. Broadway, Suite 409
Bismarck, ND 58501
1-800-472-2670
(701) 328-2950
www.ndpanda.orgOpens in a new tab.
panda_intake@nd.gov

PTSD Service Dog
PTSD Assistance Working K9 “Remmi” @working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.

Service Dog Laws North Dakota – Discrimination Complaints

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Sam Nelson

Sam is an experienced writer, advocate for people with disabilities and mental health, dog lover, artist, philosopher, and generally complicated human being.

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