Let’s Discuss 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. Let’s jump right into it.
Jump to a section:
- Why Service Dog Laws Are Confusing
- Service Dog Laws North Dakota Specific
- What is a Service Dog?
- North Dakota Definition of Service Animal
- Emotional Support Animals
- Definition of Disability
- Examples of Service Animal Work or Tasks
- Where Are Service Animals Allowed?
- Examples of Public Accommodation
- Service Animals in Training & Trainers
- Misrepresentation of Service Animals
- Penalty for Interfering or Denying Use of Facilities
- Allergies & Fear of Dogs
- Service Animals Must Be Under Control
- When Service Animals May Be Excluded
- Local Animal Control & Public Health Requirements
- No Pets Policies
- Documentation, Registration, Certification
- What Businesses Can Ask
- Service Animals in Schools
- Service Dogs & Airplanes
- Disability Rights North Dakota Contact Info
- Discrimination Complaints
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:
- The ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act – is a federal law that governs the use of service dogs when it comes to public access rights
- The FHA – Fair Housing Act – is a federal law in place for service dogs and service animals in housing situations
- The ACAA – Air Carrier Access Act – governs the use of service dogs in air travel situations
- State Laws – Each state may have their own laws in addition to the ADA federal laws
These laws define “service animal” differently, and that is part of the confusion.
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 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 for North Dakota state specifically.
Read more: Service Dog Laws by State
What is a Service Dog or Service Animal?
Service animals, as defined by the ADA federal laws, are either a dog or sometimes, a miniature horse. 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 effects of a disability. The work or tasks that the animal does must be directly related to the person’s disability.
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.
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 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, lend balance support, retrieve dropped objects, or provide assistance in a medical crisis.”
North Dakota Law
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.
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 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 help people with disabilities
- Emotional support animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities
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 in housing. The FHA or Fair Housing Act has a more broad definition of 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 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.”
Under the FHA, someone who lives with a disability, who 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.
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.
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
• Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disability by
preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks
Where Are Service Animals Allowed?
Under ADA laws…
The federal ADA laws require that service animals be allowed accompany their handlers in all areas where members of the public are allowed or invited to go.
- State and local governments
- Public schools
- Colleges and universities
- Public accommodations
- Commercial facilities
Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?
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 25-13-02
Examples of Public Accommodation
Examples of public accommodations are:
- Grocery stores
- Medical officesD
- Department stores
- Health clubs
- 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 Animals in Training & Service Animal Trainers
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: Service Dog in Training Laws by State
North Dakota Laws
North Dakota has laws for service animal trainers and a service animals in training. This has to do with admission to public places. Under North Dakota State Law:
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
Misrepresentation of Service Animals
Anyone in North Dakota who attempts to gain admission to a public place, who knowingly makes a false claim that a pet is a service animal, will be guilty of an infraction.
For an infraction penalty, a maximum fine of $1,000 may be imposed. Further infractions may be sentenced as Class B misdemeanor.
A Class B misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 30 days’ imprisonment, a $1500 fine, or both.
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 the public places or facilities
Class A misdemeanors come with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 360 days, a fine of $3,000, or both.
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 who 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.
Service Animals Must Be Under Control
Service animal must always be under the control of their owner, handler, or trainer at all times. This can be
- Voice control
- Maybe there are other methods
When Service Animals May Be Excluded
Under service dog laws North Dakota as well as ADA laws, service animals may only be excluded for certain reasons or under certain conditions.
- If the service dog or service animal is not under control, and the owner does not take effective action to control the it
- If the service animal is posing a direct threat to the health or safety of others
- If the service animals is not “house broken,” (i.e. it must know how to “go to the bathroom” appropriately)
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.
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 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.
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 of service dogs exists
- Businesses and other entities may not require people to show documentation of service animal certification, licensing, or training
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.
- Is the animal required because of a disability?
- 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 the federal ADA laws.
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 meed 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.
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 Act (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.
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.
Disability Rights North Dakota Contact Info
ND Protection & Advocacy Project
400 E. Broadway, Suite 409
Bismarck, ND 58501
Service Dog Laws North Dakota – Discrimination Complaints
- To file a housing discrimination complaint, go to ND Department of Labor
- For legal help, contact North Dakota Legal Service or an attorney in a private practice