Hello and welcome to our service dog laws Oklahoma guide and FAQ page, updated for 2023.
Service dog laws Oklahoma require that a specially trained service dog (sometimes called an assistance dog, in housing situations and in Europe) 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.
In this detailed guide, we’ll go through some of the most common questions about service dogs in the state of Oklahoma. This includes where they are allowed in public, housing information, what businesses need to know, plus much more. For a related article, check out Emotional Support Animal Laws in Oklahoma.
The world of service dogs can be confusing. Even though people who use service dogs are protected and governed by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) in the United States, each state may also have particular laws and regulations. Some states have laws for fake service dogs, too.
Read more on our blog: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws Easy Guide & FAQs
Service Dog Laws Oklahoma – Service Dog Definitions
The definition of a service animal for public access rights is the same for all states. It is governed by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). But this is just one of the service dog definitions.
Under the ADA, a service animal is any dog that has been individually trained to do tasks or work for the benefit of a person living with a disability. The tasks and/or work the dog performs must be directly related to a specific person’s disability.
Technically, service animals must be dogs. However, some people use miniature horses. Businesses need to assess any situation where a miniature horse is present and make reasonable accommodations for those folks whenever possible.
Some examples of types of disabilities include:
Just a few examples of the types of tasks or work that service dogs perform are:
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Picking up dropped items, turning on/off lights
- Keeping a disoriented person from danger
- Providing a distraction from repetitive movements
- Alerting someone to a certain sound
- Reminding someone to take medication
- Doing safety checks
- Pressing a button such as an elevator button
- Guide dogs for those who are blind or have limited vision
- SSigDOG are Sensory Signal Dogs or Social Signal Dogs. These are a 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 dogs that are 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)
Different Types of Working Animals Oklahoma
When discussing service dog laws in Oklahoma, it’s good to note the many different kinds of working animals and to realize that it can be confusing to distinguish the different types.
A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service dog. What makes a service dog a service dog is the ability to do work or tasks for a person’s specific disability.
Emotional support animals, comfort animals, therapy dogs, or any other dog that simply provides comfort to someone by its mere presence is not a service dog under the ADA.
Having said that, it’s important to note that emotional support animals are important, and have rights when it comes to housing and employment situations. For public access, a business can say “no” to an emotional support animal, but not to a service dog. Check out our detailed guide on Oklahoma Emotional Support Animal Laws to learn more.
Service Dog Laws Oklahoma Info For Businesses
Certifications, Registration & Documents
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is responsible for governing those who are living with disabilities and service dogs. According to ADA regulations, service dogs do not need to be certified, registered, officially trained, or provide documentation.
Businesses may not ask a person with a disability who is with a service dog to provide any kind of proof or documentation. This includes documents for certification, training, or a license. People with disabilities have a right to train their dog(s) themselves.
There are places online where people can obtain these documents. These documents are not legitimate, and they aren’t necessary. They are not endorsed by the ADA. The only thing that happens when people buy them is someone else makes money.
Check out our blog Which Service Dog Registry is Legitimate? to learn more about registrations, certifications, and why they are not required.
Businesses may only ask two questions of someone who is wanting their service dog to be included in a public facility, program, or service:
(1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
(2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
If the answer is yes, and the person describes the work that the dog has been trained to do, then the service dog must be allowed.
If not, it is discrimination.
Businesses and entities are not permitted to ask personal questions, such as about the nature or extent of a disability.
Other Information For Businesses
Businesses may not require a special fee because of a service dog, even when there is normally a surcharge for people with pets.
People with service dogs must be treated the same as other folks who do not have service dogs.
In cases where damages are charged to people without service dogs, people with service dogs may be charged if their service dog caused damage. That’s fair enough.
Service Dog Laws Oklahoma – When a Service Dog Can Be Excluded
Service dogs must be permitted to any public facility or public service where members of the public are normally allowed and invited to go.
However, there are a few instances when a service dog can be excluded. In other words, kicked out.
- The dog is not in the handler’s control
- The dog is not housebroken (i.e. it “goes to the bathroom” at an inappropriate place)
- Uncontrolled barking
- If the dog jumps on people
- If the dog runs away from its handler
- If the dog is disruptive
- If the dog’s behavior is a direct threat to the heath and safety of others
- If the dog is growling at people
Businesses and other entities are not required to supervise, take care of, or clean up after a service dog.
Service dogs may not be excluded based on breed, even if state or local laws prohibit a certain breed.
Fear of Dogs & Allergies
Service dogs may not be excluded based on a fear of dogs or an allergy to dogs. Most allergic reactions to animals happen with direct contact with the animal, so creating space can often be the solution here.
If there is a greater risk of a more serious allergic reaction, it’s up to the business or other entity to come up with a creative solution. This is so that all patrons (both the person with the service dog and the person with the allergy) are as comfortable as possible.
Responsibilities of Service Dog Handlers
Service dog handlers (people who use service dogs) need to keep their dog under control. The dog could be controlled by a leash, tether, harness, or simply, voice control.
Service dogs are required to receive all required vaccinations as per local and state laws.
Service Dog Laws Oklahoma – Service Dog Handler’s Rights
Public Accommodations & Facilities
Service dogs in Oklahoma must be allowed to go with their handler anywhere the public is normally allowed to go. Businesses that have “no pets” policies must still allow service dogs because service dogs are not pets.
Service Dogs & Employment
Discrimination because of a disability is illegal. Employers in Oklahoma and all states are required to provide reasonable accommodation.
A reasonable accommodation could mean allowing a person with a service dog or an emotional support animal to bring the animal to work.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the employment division of the ADA.
If a disability isn’t obvious and/or the reason why the animal is needed isn’t clear, an employer may ask for documentation. This documentation can establish that the disability indeed exists.
Many disabilities are invisible. In addition, it can briefly outline how the dog would be able to assist the person with their job. Sometimes, the employee may suggest that they be allowed to bring their service dog to work on a trial basis.
Service dogs and emotional support dogs may be excluded from the workplace if they pose a direct threat in the workplace or if they pose an undue hardship.
Service Dogs & Housing
People with disabilities are protected against discrimination in housing situations by the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Landlords and housing associations must provide reasonable accommodation and equal opportunity for people with disabilities to enjoy and use a dwelling.
Emotional support animals that do not qualify as service dogs under the ADA rules, may still be able to qualify as reasonable accommodations under the FHA, as they are defined differently.
Reasonable accommodations may include waiving a pet fee or pet deposit, as service dogs and emotional support dogs are not pets. They are not subject to “no pets” policies.
While landlords and housing associations aren’t permitted to ask for personal information about a disability, they can request documentation. This can be a basic doctor’s note or a written statement by the tenant.
It must indicate the following:
- That the person seeking tenancy, or perhaps it is a member of their family, is indeed a person who is living with a disability
- That the need for the dog is to help the person with their specific disability
- That the dog actually does assist the person with their disability in their day-to-day life
The ADA rules still apply to student housing, and people with disabilities who need student housing are not required to provide this documentation.
Service Dogs In Schools & Education Settings
Post-Secondary Educational Institutions
According to the ADA rules, colleges and universities and other post-secondary institutions must not discriminate against people with disabilities. They must allow people with disabilities to bring along their service dog anywhere that is open to the public or open to students.
- Students may be required to register as a student with a disability with their school’s Disability Services Coordinator
- Educational institutions must not require documentation, certification, or proof of service dog training
- Educational institutions may require proof of vaccinations when they are required by all animals as per local and state laws
Service Animals In K-12 Public Schools In Oklahoma
Students with disabilities are permitted to have their dog at school as per the ADA. If the dog does not meet the ADA requirements, students may still be able to use their animal at school as per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Service Dog Laws Oklahoma – Transportation
People with disabilities who travel with a service dog must not be denied access to transportation.
- “No pets” policies do not apply; service dogs are not pets
- People with disabilities must not be directed to sit in a particular location
- Additional fees must not be charged to a person because of the presence of their service dog
- Advanced notice that a person will be traveling with a service dog is not required
These laws are in effect for both private and public transportation services and providers and include:
- Fixed-route buses
Oklahoma Service Dog In Training Laws
Service dogs in Oklahoma 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.
At this time, only four states do not cover service animals in training under their public accommodation laws.
Service dog laws in Oklahoma for service dogs in training (SDiT) include some different rules and requirements whether we are talking about air travel, employment, or public access rights.
Service Dogs-In-Training & Air Travel
According to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), service dogs-in-training don’t meet the legal definition of a service animal. Therefore, these service animals in training are not generally allowed in the cabin of an aircraft.
However, airline policies vary, so check with a particular airline to see if a service dog-in-training may qualify. Sometimes, service dogs-in-training, along with their trainers, are allowed in the cabin for training purposes.
Service Dogs-In-Training & Employment
Employers may be obligated to allow employees to bring their service dog-in-training to work, as a reasonable accommodation. This is especially true if the dog is being trained to help the employee with tasks related to the employee’s job or work.
However, the service dog-in-training may be excluded if it becomes a workplace distraction. Or, if it causes undue hardship in the workplace.
Service Dog Laws Oklahoma – The Cost of Service Dogs
It can cost more than $50,000 to train a service dog from the time they are a puppy to the time they are to begin working, which is normally around two years old.
However, organizations often provide service dogs to people with disabilities free of charge, or for a small fee.
There are several options for how to get a service dog; getting one from a service dog organization is just one method.
Having said that, it’s good to realize that a dog – whether it is a service dog or not – will continually cost a certain amount for the duration of their life. Dogs need food, veterinary visits, possibly insurance, possibly some grooming, and perhaps some other things that cost money.
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 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
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, or Oklahoma State service dog 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.
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
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 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.
How To Make Your Dog a Service Dog in Oklahoma
Stop making that sound so easy! To make your dog a service dog in Oklahoma, you must have a disability and a disability-related need for the animal. Start your service dog training journey, and work on having your dog learn how to act properly in public, with basic socialization and obedience training, and performing specific tasks that mitigate the effect(s) of your disability. There are different avenues for getting a service animal.
- You could train your dog by yourself or with some help
- A dog trainer could help
- A professional service dog training school or organization can help
- Any combination of these options can be used
Even though service animals do not need to be professionally trained by an organization or school, they do need to be trained for their disability. This is not usually an easy task, and many people need at least some help.
It’s also important to note that not just any dog can become a service dog. Dogs are like people and have individual personalities. Some personalities do great with working; others just don’t. Some dogs truly just can’t focus, don’t listen, or want to only play (or relax) all day. Read more on our blog: Service Dog Training Basics & FAQ