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South Dakota Service Dog Laws
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Welcome to Service Dog Laws South Dakota

Welcome to our service dog laws in South Dakota guide and FAQ page, updated for 2023.

Service dog laws in South Dakota 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 similar but related article, check out my guide to Emotional Support Animal Laws in South Dakota.

Where can service dogs go?

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.

Service dogs can help people with different types of disabilities
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Service animals can help people with many different types of visible and invisible disabilities.

In this detailed guide, we’ll go through some of the most common questions about service dogs in the state of South Dakota. This includes where they are allowed in public, housing information, what businesses need to know, plus much more. Fake service dogs can also complicate things.

American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog South Dakota
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American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog “Bartek” @bartek_spaniel_wspanialy
border collie service dog South Dakota
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Border Collies @celestialbordercollies
service dog laws South Dakota
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Working K9 “Remmi” @working.collie.remmi
service dog laws South Dakota definitions
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Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

Service Animal Definitions

There are different definitions for service animals. It all depends on the context.

The ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act – governs the use of service animals federally where general public access rights are concerned.

  • Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” – ADA FAQ

The FHA – Fair Housing Act – is used when service animals – called “assistance animals” under this definition, in housing situations. It is also a federal 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.FHA 

The ACAA – Air Carrier Access Act – is relevant for when service dogs will be flying in the cabin of an airplane with their human.

  • 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, companionship animals, and service animals in training are not service animals.
Service dog definitions South Dakota
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Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge”

Service Dog Laws South Dakota Certification & Registration

The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in South Dakota or any other state in the US. Service dogs are protected under the ADA , Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal Acts.

Registration and certification done online from non-government websites do not convey any legal rights under the ADA or the Department of Justice.

The federal government does not have a legitimate registration or certification system in place.   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.

Service Animal Registration and Certification Not Necessary South Dakota
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Examples Of Service Dog Work or Tasks

Service dogs do certain “work ” or “tasks” for people who live with disabilities. The work or tasks the dog does must be related to a person’s specific disability . People who use service dogs sometimes refer to this as being “task-trained.”

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

The work or tasks can vary widely, and depend on each individual person. Sorry if this sounds obvious, but these work or tasks go well above and beyond basic dog obedience and socialization training basics .

Here are just a few examples of service dog work or tasks

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:

  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Psychiatric
  • Intellectual
  • 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
  • SSigDOGs are Sensory Signal Dogs or Social Signal Dogs. These are service dogs that have 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.
  • 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.
Siberian Husky service dog in training South Dakota
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Siberian Husky Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @the.borealis.pack

Read more: The Giant List of Service Dog Tasks (K9 Total Focus)

Information For Businesses

In South Dakota, businesses need to be aware that refusing someone with a disability who has a service dog with them may be seen as discrimination.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. Think of them kind of like a wheelchair, crutches, or another type of important medical equipment.

Businesses that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to enter with their service animal, under these laws:

Businesses and organizations serving the public (also known as “covered entities” under the Americans with Disabilities Act) must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of their facility where customers are normally allowed to go.

This law applies to all businesses open to the public, including (but not limited to):

  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Hotels and motels
  • Taxis, shuttles, and other modes of transportation
  • Grocery stores and department stores and malls
  • Hospitals and doctor’s offices
  • Theaters
  • Health clubs and community centers
  • Parks and zoos
  • Landlords

Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas. This is true even when state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.

Of course, there are a few exceptions to where service animals are permitted under the federal ADA laws. You can read about them in our ADA service dog laws summary & FAQ page.

Businesses Can:

  • Ask if an animal is a service animal
  • Ask what tasks the animal has been trained to do
  • Charge for damage caused by a service animal

Businesses are not permitted to:

  • Require special ID cards for the animal
  • Require the customer to have the animal demonstrate the tasks
  • Ask about the person’s disability
  • Charge extra fees
  • Isolate the customer from other patrons
  • Treat the customer less favorably than other patrons

Businesses are not required to provide:

  • Care of any kind or food for a service animal
  • A special location for the animal to relieve itself

The only times a business may ask a person with a disability to remove their service animal are when:

  • The service animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it
  • The service dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
Service Dogs South Dakota Public Places
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Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedog

Allergies & Fear of Dogs

Of course, some people have allergies to dogs or dog dander and some people are fearful of a certain type of dog or dogs in general.

It’s important to note that allergies and fear of dogs are generally not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals.

In other words, denying someone access because of someone else’s allergies or fear of dogs will usually be seen as discrimination.

When both parties need to be accommodated, creativity might be necessary. The two most obvious ways to separate the folks would be to assign one to a certain area of a room.

Or, perhaps the parties could be separated into different rooms within the same facility. Businesses and other covered entities will need to figure out how to best serve both the person with allergies or fear of dogs and the person with a service dog.

Service dog laws South Dakota Allergies and Fear of Dogs
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Canadian Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelle

Housing and Rental Properties

Under service dog laws South Dakota, it’s considered discrimination to prohibit someone with a disability from keeping their service animal in a residential situation (rented, leased, or otherwise).

This includes landlords, owners of housing or rental property, and other types of housing situations.

Housing and landlord rentals with service dogs South Dakota
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American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog “Bartek” @bartek_spaniel_wspanialy


  • There is no formal service animal certification process or paperwork that is recognized by South Dakota State or the federal government
  • Having said that, air carriers (airlines), employers, and housing providers such as landlords may require certain and specific documentation
  • Documentation may not be required for public access as a condition of entry (prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act).
Medical Alert Service Dog South Dakota
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Medical Alert Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphena

The following items are not required for an animal to qualify as a service dog no matter which service dog laws in South Dakota we are talking about:

  • Service dog vest
  • Service dog markings of any kind
  • Documentation

Vests, service dog markings, and service dog documentation can not be used as a reliable indication of whether an animal is legally a service dog.

A therapy dog/animal, emotional support animal, or another animal wearing a vest or having a special marking, does not make these types of dogs service animals.

Miniature Horses

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.

Mini Service Horse
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“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse

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 person with a disability.

Mini Service Horse
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“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse

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
service mini horse
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“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse

Therapy Dogs

Let’s just briefly discuss what therapy dogs are and aren’t, since many people aren’t sure and it can be confusing as there are so many amazing types of dogs in the world! Lucky humans we are indeed.

A therapy dog is not a service dog, and that’s because therapy dogs aren’t trained to do “work or tasks” for an individual’s disability. Plain and simple.

What is a therapy dog
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Therapy dogs are not considered service dogs.

A therapy dog is usually someone’s pet that enjoys meeting a large number of different people in different settings.

The people who are fortunate enough to spend time with a therapy dog receive great benefits, such as reduced anxiety and added joy.

They often visit places such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other settings where the stress in people may likely be high.

Therapy Dogs South Carolina
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Therapy Dog “Eddie” with “Boomer” @eddieandboomer

Service Animal Fees

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 South Dakota 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.

Service Dog
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Service Dog “Kodiak” @dog.human.duo

Control of Service Animals

  • Service animals must be under control at all times & should not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others
  • Service animals must comply with state and local animal control laws

Service 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.

Labrador service animal
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Canadian Multipurpose Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelle

What Is The ADA?

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.

  • Businesses
  • State governments
  • Local governments
  • Nonprofit organizations
Psychiatric service dog South Dakota
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Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge”

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
Border Collie Service Dog South Dakota
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Border Collie Service Dog @celestialbordercollies


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

Husky Service Dog South Dakota
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“Kylie’s Lucy On Duty” (Lucy) Service Dog @lucytheservicesibe

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
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression

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.

psychiatric Service Dog
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Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge”

Training & Service Dogs In Training

Service dogs in South Dakota 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.

service dog in training South Dakota
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Service Dog in Training (SDiT) “Bishop”

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. Read more on our blog: Service Animal In Training – U.S. State Guide

Service Dog in Training South Dakota
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“Kylie’s Where I Go, You Go” (Hugo) Service Dog In Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe

At this time, only four states do not cover service animals in training under their public accommodation laws.

South Dakota service dog laws
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“A service animal trainer may be accompanied by a service animal in training wearing a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies the animal as a service animal in training, in any of the places listed in § 20-13-23.1 subject to any conditions and limitations established by law and applicable to service animals, without being required to pay an extra charge for the service animal in training.” – South Dakota Code

How To Make Your Dog a Service Dog

Stop making that sound so easy! To make your dog a service dog in South Dakota, 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
  • Someone such as a dog trainer could help you
  • You may be able to find a professional service dog organization or program to help you or to possibly even provide a fully trained service dog at no cost, but these often have long waiting lists
  • Any combination of these 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 a 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.

Autism service dog South Dakota
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Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piper

Read more on our blog: Service Dog Training Basics & FAQ

multipurpose service dog
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Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedog


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 another 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
psychiatric service dog South Dakota
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Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge”

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.

Service dog laws in South Dakota
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Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

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
Autism service dog in South Dakota
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Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piper


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

Service Dog Laws South Dakota

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