Service Dog Laws West Virginia – Big Guide & FAQ (2022)

west virginia service dog laws

Service Dog Laws West Virginia

Welcome to our updated article on service dog laws West Virginia. The world of service dogs can be confusing, and there is good reason for that. There are multiple laws that govern the use of these special animals and their people.

In this article we will go through the various federal laws, as well as any service dog laws specific to West Virginia. Keep reading to get all the details regarding public access rights, housing, air travel, employment, handler’s rights, what businesses can ask, and so much more.

Service Dog ADA laws
Service dog BALU

Jump to a section:

  1. Service Animal Laws
  2. What is a Service Animal?
  3. Emotional Support & Comfort Animals
  4. Therapy Dogs
  5. Public Facilities & Access
  6. No Pets Policies
  7. What Businesses Can Ask
  8. What Businesses Can Not Ask
  9. Service Animal Fees
  10. Excluding Service Animals
  11. Service Dog Handler’s Responsibilities
  12. Miniature Horses
  13. Registration & Certification
  14. Service Dog Training
  15. Service Animals In Training

1. Service Animal Laws

There are multiple laws that govern the use of service animals, depending on the context

  1. For public access rights, we look to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) 
  2. For air travel, we have the ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act) 
  3. For housing situations, we can look to the FHA (Fair Housing Act) 
  4. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)Opens in a new tab. (School, education)
  5. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation ActOpens in a new tab. (School, education)

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

Service Dog Laws West Virginia
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2. What is a Service Animal?

Under the ADA or Americans with Disabilities ActOpens in a new tab., a service dog is defined for public access rights:

Service animal means any dog that is 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.

Americans with Disabilities ActOpens in a new tab.

Service dog tasks can include so many different things.

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

Just a few examples of service dog work or tasks include:

  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Retrieving dropped items
  • Pressing an elevator button
  • Waking someone up from a nightmare
  • Opening and closing doors and drawers
  • Turning lights on/off
  • Safety checks
  • Reminder to take medications
  • Alerting to various sounds
  • Guiding people with low vision or blindness
  • Interrupting harmful or repetitive behaviours
Service Dog Work or Tasks West Virginia
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Examples of Service Dogs

  • Guide dogs or seeing eye dogs are for people with low vision or blindness and can act as a travel and navigation aid
  • Hearing or signal dogs can help people who are hard of hearing or deaf by alerting them to certain important sounds
  • Psychiatric service dogs can help people with PTSD and other conditions by doing room checks, turning on and off lights, interrupting harmful behaviour, and much more
  • SSigDOG is a Sensory Signal Dog or Social Signal Dog and can help people who live with autism and can help interrupt repetitive behaviour, and much more
  • Seizure response dogs help people who live with seizure conditions, and can keep their handler safe during a seizure, and/or go and get help after the episode. Some dogs have been trained to detect seizures before they begin and guide the person to a safe place
What Service Dogs Can Do

Other service dog ADA facts:

  • Animals other than dogs (or miniature horses) whether trained or untrained, are not service animals under the ADA definition
  • The work or tasks perform by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability
  • It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support
  • A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal
Service dog ADA facts
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3. Emotional Support & Comfort Animals

Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy animals are not considered service animals under the ADA definition. This means they do not have the same public access rights.

However, it’s good to note that emotional support animals do have rights when it comes to housing. The definition of “assistance animal” in this case for housing, is written more widely compared to the ADA definition, and includes emotional support animals.

Photo @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

The main difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal is that emotional support animals are not specially trained for one person’s specific disability.

Emotional support animals often are not task-trained at all, and simply provide emotional support and comfort just by their mere presence.

Read more: Service Dog vs. Emotional Support Dog

Emotional Support Animals

4. Therapy Dogs

A therapy dog is not a service dog. It’s usually someone’s pet that enjoys meeting a lot of different people from different settings.

Therapy Dog West Virginia
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This friendly dog and their owner often visit different places such as schools, nursing homes, hospitals, or other areas to basically ease anxiety and bring joy to someone’s day.

What is a therapy dog?

5. Public Facilities & Access

Service animals are allowed in public places, public facilities, accommodations, and other areas of the public. Service animals must be allowed to accompany their handler to any place in a facility or building where members of the public are allowed (generally speaking).

This includes:

  • Malls
  • Grocery stores
  • Movie theatres
  • Government buildings
  • Community centres
  • Buses and taxis
  • Hotels, motels, bed and breakfast
  • Anywhere the public can go

Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere? Top 5 Examples of Exclusion

Service dog laws west Virginia, where are service dogs allowed?
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6. No Pets Policies

If a business or another public entity has a “no pets” policy, it still may not deny entry to someone with a service animal.

Service animals are not pets. “No pets” policies may remain in place, but must be modified to allow service dogs.

Photo @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

7. What Businesses Can Ask

When it is not obvious why someone is using a service dog, businesses may only ask two questions under the ADA service dog laws.

1. Is the animal required because of a disability?

2. What type of work is the dog trained to perform?

What businesses can ask about service dogs
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8. What Businesses Can Not Ask

Businesses must not:

  • Ask about the person’s disability
  • Require medical documentation
  • Require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog
  • Ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task
West Virginia service dog laws what businesses may not ask
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9. Service Animal Fees

Businesses, places of public accommodation, and/or public entities may not ask or require someone with a disability to pay a surcharge because of their service animal. This is true even if people with pets are required to pay fees. Service dogs are not pets.

Paying for damages

If a business or another public accommodation normally charges people for the damages caused by their pets, then someone with a disability may also be charged for damages caused by their service animal.

Service Animal Fees
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10. Excluding Service Animals

Businesses and other covered entities may deny access to a service animal under certain conditions.

  • If the animal’s behaviour is unacceptable
  • If the animal is out of control
service dog border collie
Photo @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

Examples of unacceptable behaviour:

  • A service dog with uncontrolled barking
  • A service dog that runs away from its handler
  • A service dog jumping on people
  • A service dog that disrupts a business (a service dog barking in a movie theatre during a movie)
  • A service dog growling at people in a grocery store

Service dogs may also be excluded when their behaviour poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.

Acceptable service dog behaviour
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The decision to exclude a service animal may not be based on:

  • Bad experiences with other animals
  • The breed of the animal (service dogs may be any breed, even when a city/county has a breed specific ban)
  • Bad experiences with a certain breed of animal
  • Someone thinking that the animal might threaten the safety of others without any evidence
  • Someone who has allergies to dogs or dog dander
excluding service animals West Virginia
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11. Service Dog Handler’s Responsibilities

Service animals under the ADA laws must be under control of their handler at all times. And yes, this means that service dogs must not be left alone in a hotel room.

Service animals must be under control by:

  • Harness
  • Leash
  • Tether
  • Voice control
  • Signals
  • Other effective means

Service dog handlers are responsible for the following:

  • Service animals must be housebroken (i.e. know how to “go to the bathroom” appropriately)
  • Handlers are responsible for cleaning up after service dogs
  • Service dogs must be clean and with odours kept to a minimum
  • Service animals must be in good health
  • Proof of vaccinations such as for rabies may be required
  • Proof of local or state law dog licenses that are required for all dogs or animals may be required
Photo @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

12. Miniature Horses

Miniature Service Horse Service Animal West Virginia
Photo @flirty.the.mini.service.horseOpens in a new tab.

Businesses and other entities may assess a service animal that is a miniature horse. Miniature horses are the only other accepted type of animal under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws other than dogs.

Whenever reasonable, people with disabilities who use a miniature horse should be accommodated. Businesses and other entities may assess a miniature horse based on the type, size and weight.

service mini horse
Photo @flirty.the.mini.service.horseOpens in a new tab.

This assessment may be used in determining if it would be safe and reasonable to accept the mini service horse.

13. Do You Have to Register a Service Dog in West Virginia?

No, you do not have to register or certify a service dog in West Virginia, or any other U.S. state. In fact, legitimate registration and certification doesn’t exist. 

You may have found service dog registration and certification websites online. These are not endorsed or even recognized by the ADA nor the Department of Justice.

The items bought from these websites convey no legal rights. Buying a piece of paper from the internet does not turn a dog into a service dog.

Service Animal Registration Not Necessary Service Dog Certification

14. Service Dog Training

Service dogs must be trained as per their definition of animals trained to do certain work or tasks for someone living with a disability. However, a common misconception is that they need to be professionally trained.

According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) laws, people who have a service dog or service dog in training, have the right to train the dog themselves.

Training a service dog is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. It is not exactly easy. Depending on circumstances and individual situations, service dogs may be trained:

  • By their owner
  • By a trainer
  • By a professional service dog training organization
  • Any combination of these

Read more: Service Dog Training Basics, FAQ + more

service dog in training West Virginia
Service dog in training Bishop Opens in a new tab.

15. Service Animals in Training

Under the federal ADA laws for public access rights, service dogs that are still in training do not have the same rights as fully trained service dogs.

In other words, service dogs in training may not go to public places according to the federal ADA laws.

However, it’s good to know that certain states have different laws and rules, that might include service dogs in training. So, check with individual states to see their particular rules.

Service animals-in-training are not considered service animals under the ADA. Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, some State or local laws cover animals that are still in training.

ADA – FAQOpens in a new tab.

West Virginia Service Dog In Training Laws

West Virginia is one state, like many others, who have decided to create their own service dog laws and include public access rights for service dogs in training.

(d) The rights, privileges and responsibilities provided by this section also apply to any person who is certified as a trainer of a service animal while he or she is engaged in the training.

West Virginia CodeOpens in a new tab.
West Virginia service dog in training laws
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Sam Nelson

Sam Nelson 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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