Service Dogs Kentucky – Easy Guide, FAQs & More (2022)

kentucky service dog laws

Service Dogs Kentucky – A Deep Dive

The world of service dogs can be confusing, and service dogs Kentucky are no different. There are several reasons why this is so confusing. One of them is that there are multiple laws that govern the use of service animals.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the federal service animal laws, as well as any Kentucky State specific laws. We’ll also touch on emotional support animals, assistance animals in housing, and much more.

Service Dogs Kentucky Laws
Photo: working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.

Jump to a section:

  1. What is a Service Dog?
  2. The ADA Definition for Public Access Rights
  3. Emotional Support, Comfort, Therapy Animals Under ADA
  4. Fair Housing Act Definition of Service Animal
  5. Service Animal Definition for ACAA – Air Travel
  6. Certification for Public Access (ADA)
  7. What Businesses May Ask
  8. What Businesses May Not Ask
  9. State vs. Federal Service Dog Laws
  10. General Rights
  11. If there’s a Disaster – Service Dog Laws
  12. Penalties
  13. Definition of ‘Person with a Disability’
  14. Miniature Horses
  15. Excluding Service Animals
  16. Care & Control
  17. Fees
  18. Vaccinations & Licenses
  19. Registration & Certification
  20. Service Dogs for Veterans in Kentucky
kentucky service dog laws

What is a Service Dog?

Generally speaking, a service dog is a specially trained dog that works with people who have disabilities.

The dog does certain “work” or “tasks” to help mitigate at least some of the effects of a disability.

There are at least three different, legitimate, specific definitions of service animals, sometimes called “assistance animals” depending on the context.

The work or tasks that a service dog does must be directly related to a certain person’s disability.

service dog in training
Service Dog in Training Bishop Opens in a new tab.

Service dogs help people with the following types of disabilities:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Sensory disabilities
  • Psychiatric disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Other kinds of mental disabilities
what do service dogs do

Just a few examples of service dog tasks include:

  • Helping someone who is blind or living with low vision to navigate through the world
  • Alerting someone who is hard of hearing, or deaf, to important sounds, like a knock at the door, a phone call, a fire alarm, someone saying the person’s name, etc.,
  • Service Dogs can provide non-violent protection or rescue type work
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Opening and closing doors
  • Finding an elevator, and pushing the button
  • Picking up dropped items, like keys, a phone, or another items
  • Carry grocery bags
  • Keeping someone with autism from wandering off and getting lost
  • Interrupting nightmares and panic attacks in people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Reminding someone with depression to take their medication
  • Alerting someone to the presence of allergens
  • Providing physical support for balance and stability in people with mobility disabilities
  • Interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviours
Examples of Service Dog Tasks
Photo: working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.

Three Service Dog Definitions

There are (at least) three very different, but important, definitions of ‘service dog’ or ‘assistance animal.’  “Assistance animal” is the term used by the FHA (Fair Housing Act) and for service animals in the European area.

1. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Opens in a new tab. – governs the use of service animals when it comes to public access rights, rights in schools, and rights in employment situations.

2. Fair Housing Act (FHA)Opens in a new tab. – Along with the ADA, the Fair Housing Act governs the use of what they call “assistance animals” for housing situations. This definition is written more broadly to include emotional support animals, unlike the ADA definition.

3. Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA)Opens in a new tab. – is referred to whenever people will be taking to the air with their service animal. Service animals can ride in the cabin of air planes with their handler as long as they meet the criteria and complete necessary paperwork before their flight.

Read more: American Airlines Service Dog Info – The Easy Guide

Three service dog definitions
Photo @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Service Animal Definition

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Opens in a new tab. governs the rules around Service Dogs and their handlers when public access rights are concerned.

Generally speaking, people with service dogs are allowed to go almost all the places that the general public is normally allowed or invited to go.

ADA Service Animal Definition
Autism Service Dog “Piper” @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

ADA Definition

Under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) a service animal is any kind, size, or type of dog that has been individually trained to do some kind of work or perform some kind of task(s) for people who are living with disabilities.

It’s important to note that the task or work that the dog does must be directly related to a specific person’s disability, and what the dog does helps to mitigate some of the effects of the disability.

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

There are no height, weight, size, or breed restrictions on the type of dog that can be a service dog. Even banned breeds are exempt from local breed restrictions. In other words, a trained service dog Pit bull is still allowed public access rights in a city that has banned Pit bulls.

In addition, it’s important to know that service animals are not pets. Therefore, “no pets” policies don’t apply. The ADA also states that businesses and other entities must accommodate a miniature horse – used as a service animal – whenever possible, too.

service animals are not pets
Service dogs can be any breed
Canadian Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelleOpens in a new tab.

Emotional Support Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Comfort Dogs or Companion Animals

Emotional Support Animals

The ADAOpens in a new tab. defines Service Dog as something totally different from emotional support animals, therapy animals, comfort animals, and companion animals. 

Emotional support animals, therapy animals, comfort animals, and companion animals are not considered ‘Service Dogs’.

Therapy Dogs
Therapy Dog “Eddie” and Boomer @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.

They do not have the same rights as service dogs under the ADA. And this is simply because they are not specifically trained for one person’s disability. Some dogs help people just with their mere presence.

Therapy Dogs
Therapy Dog @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.

A therapy dog is a pet that enjoys meeting lots of new people in different settings, and can help reduce stress and anxiety, and add a bit of joy to people’s day.

What is a therapy dog?

Fair Housing Act Definition

Service Dogs Kentucky
Service Dog “Balu” from Portugal

The Fair Housing Act governs the use of Service Dogs in housing situations. For housing situations, both the ADA rules and FHA rules apply.

There is good news for people who use emotional support animals. The definition of service animal is not as strict. Check out the definition here:

Under the Fair Housing Act, an assistance animal, as it’s called, is not a pet, but an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks in order to benefit someone who is living with a disability.

This also includes dogs that provide emotional support that alleviates at least one, or more, of the symptoms or affects of someone’s disability.

Fair Housing Act Service Dogs
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedogOpens in a new tab.

For reasonable accommodation requests in housing situations, the Fair Housing Act, nor Section 504 require that these types of assistance animals are individually trained or certified.

In addition, while it’s usually dogs that fill this role, other animals can also be assistance animals. This differs from the ADA definition in which the animal must be either a dog or miniature horse.

Service Dog Poodle
Medical Alert Service Dog “Koda” @thatlilbearkodaOpens in a new tab.

Basically, you’ll need some kind of doctor’s note (or another professional) to verify your need for the dog to the landlord or other housing provider.

But, you’ll likely be able to keep your dog/animal if you’re a person with a disability, period.

This is true whether it is a custom-trained service dog, non-trained emotional support dog, or another type of therapy or assistance dog.

Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

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

The Air Carrier Access Act has yet another definition for Service Dogs. You can use this definition whenever you’ll be flying on a plane with your animal.

Under this Act, a service animal is any animal that has been individually trained or able to help and provide assistance to someone who has a disability.

service dogs on Airplanes
“Kylie’s Lucy On Duty” Service Dog @lucytheservicesibeOpens in a new tab.

This includes assisting people with disabilities by providing emotional support. If you’re going to be traveling with your emotional support or psychiatric service animal, documentation may be required.

Service Dog Certification Kentucky

service dog certification kentucky
Service Dog “Kodiak” @dog.human.duoOpens in a new tab.

There seems to be a lot of confusion around this subject. Especially when many services dogs do have identification or proof of certification.

Additionally, there are many places that one can simply buy service dog vests and other gear to let the public know their dog is at work. Many of these are available online (and these are simply not legitimate).

Service Animal Registration Not Necessary

However, the ADA does not require people with disabilities to show proof of certification or registration for their service dog

  • Service dogs do not need to be certified
  • A legitimate Service Dog registry does not exist and is not required
  • People who use service dogs have a right to train the dog themselves
  • Service dogs are not required to wear a vest, special patch, or ID tag, though many people choose to use these items anyway
Service dogs do not need to be certified
Photo @allaboardthegusbusOpens in a new tab.

This is without having to prove their dog has been certified. In fact, in accordance with the ADA :

Public Establishments May Only Ask Two Things

Service Dog “Balu” from Portugal

Staff at businesses and other entities may only ask these two questions, and only when it’s not obvious why the service dog is needed.

For example, for someone who is blind it might be obvious that the dog is helping to guide them. But for someone with an invisible disability, Opens in a new tab.such as PTSDOpens in a new tab., it may not be obvious at all.

The only two questions businesses and other entities are allowed to ask people using service dogs under the service dog ADA laws are:

1. Is the animal required because of a disability?

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

Autism service dog
Autism Service Dog @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

Establishments May 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
Service Dog Questions
Service Dog Balu

State vs. Federal Service Dog Laws

There are state-specific service dog/assistance dog laws, in addition to the ADA/Federal lawsOpens in a new tab..

People with disables can choose to utilize whichever law(s) provides them with what they need.

General Rights for Service Dogs and Their Handlers

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

In Kentucky, a person with a disability who is accompanied by a service dog has rights under the law.

Public facilities, as well as common transportation carriers, are to admit and assist people with disabilities and their service dogs.

Service dogs must be generally allowed to go wherever the general public is allowed or invited to go, such as public facilities and private businesses.

Read more: Can Service Dogs Go Anywhere?

can service dogs go anywhere
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” Photo @snow_leopard_81Opens in a new tab.

Do Service Dogs in Training Have Public Access in Kentucky?

Yes. Service dogs in training in Kentucky who are accompanied by a trainer for training purposes have public access rights. Trainers must have trainer identification.

Read more: Service Animal In Training Laws by State

service dog in training
Service Dog in Training – Bishop

Kentucky Service Dogs In A Disaster

Kentucky law requires that in the case of a disaster, service animals are provided with transportation, temporary shelter, and evacuation if necessary.

  • The law requires that people with service dogs shall not be denied access to accommodations, transportation or elevator service
  • Service dogs are exempt from all state and local licensing fees
  • The denial of emergency medical treatment for service dogs is prohibited
  • Service dog trainers must be able to provide a certificate (or at least some kind of identification) issued by a service dog training agency or school which can establish that the dogs have been, or are in, training
  • People with disabilities who are with their assistance dog are allowed into any hotel, motel, restaurant or other eating establishment, accommodations, facilities, theatre or resorts and other places of public amusement
  • People with their service dogs are not to be denied access to transportation, as long as their dog does not occupy a seat or endanger public safety
  • This includes air, railroad, motor vehicle, or any other method. It includes aircraft, watercraft, railroad cars, buses, and air, boat, railroad, and bus terminals and stations
  • Extra charges/fares can not be made to the person due to the presence of the service dog for their transportation together
  • Emergency medical treatment can not be denied to a service dog that is with a person, regardless of the persons ability to pay prior to the treatment
service dog laws Kentucky
Therapy Dog @eddieandboomerOpens in a new tab.


Penalties for Violating Service Dog Laws

penalties for violating service dog laws in Kentucky
Photo @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.
  • A fine of $250-$1,000
  • Imprisonment in county jail for 10-30 days (or both punishments together)
  • Anyone who intentionally (and/or without legal justification) causes physical injury or harm to a service animal will be guilty of assault in the first degree – Class D Felony

Definition of Person With a Disability (ADA)

ADA Definition of Person with a Disability
Service Dog Balu
  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • A record of such an impairment
  • You are regarded as having such an impairment
  • You must have a physical or mental impairment
  • The impairment must substantially limit your major life activities

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

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

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

Excluding Service Animals

Excluding Service Animals When can they be excluded?
Service Dog Balu

Service animals can only be excluded (asked to leave) under the following circumstances:

  • If it interferes with legitimate safety requirements of a facility, such as an operating room, or a burn unit inside a hospital
  • If the animal is not housebroken (it “goes to the bathroom” inappropriately)
  • If the animal is out of control, and the handler is unable to take steps to effectively control it
  • If the animal is causing a threat to the health and safety of others
care and control of service animals in Kentucky
Autism Service Dog @service.doodle.piperOpens in a new tab.

A few examples of unacceptable service dog behaviour include:

  • A service dog running away from its handler
  • A service dog who is constantly barking out of control
  • A service dog that jumps on people
  • A service dog who eats food off a table at a restaurant
  • A service dog who is growling at people in a grocery store

When a service animal is asked to leave because of one of these reasons, the staff or people at the business or facility must still offer their services to the person, but without the dog being there.

In other words, excluding the dog doesn’t automatically exclude the person.

acceptable service dog behaviour
Photo @luna_exploregonOpens in a new tab.

Care & Control

Service animals must be under control of their handler at all times. This means they must be:

  • Using a harness, leash, or tether
  • When those aren’t available due to the nature of the disability, or the nature of the work, then other means of control must be used. This may be voice control, signals, or another method
Care and Control of Service Animals Kentucky
Photo: working.collie.remmiOpens in a new tab.

Businesses and other public entities are not required to care for, or supervise, service animals in any way. This includes feeding, veterinary care, bathroom breaks, grooming, and general supervision. It also includes cleaning up after the animal.

Fees for Service Animals

Fees for service animals in Kentucky
Photo @bartek_spaniel_wspanialyOpens in a new tab.

Public entities, and public and private businesses are not permitted to require someone with a disability to pay a fee or deposit because of their service animal.

This is true even in the cases where people who have pets are required to pay for these types of fees. Service dogs are not pets.

However, if a business normally charges people for any damages that may be caused, then a person with a disability can also be charged for any damage that is done by their service animal.

Vaccinations and Licenses

vaccinations and licenses for service dogs in Kentucky
Photo @celestialbordercolliesOpens in a new tab.

There is nothing written in the federal ADA law that indicates service animals must be vaccinated. However, service animals must comply with local and state requirements to get vaccinations and/or licenses, just as other dogs in the area would.

How to Register a Service Dog in Kentucky

Easy answer: You don’t. Legitimate “service dog registration” does not exist. Service dog registration and certification is not required under the ADA service dog laws. You may have found websites online, trying to sell service dogs registrations and certifications. These are not recognized by the Department of Justice nor the ADA.

Buying one of these papers does not turn a dog into a service dog. A dog turns into a service dog once it has been trained by its owner or someone else, to perform work or tasks related to its owners disability.

Service Animal Registration Not Necessary

Service Dogs for Veterans in Kentucky

Where can veterans find a service dog in Kentucky? There are several organizations that are either in Kentucky, or that serve Kentucky that may be an option.

The following is a list of some potential organizations that may be able to help. They are all accredited by Assistance Dogs International,Opens in a new tab. which is known as “The Global Authority in the Assistance Dogs Industry.”

This is not an exhaustive list of resources, by any means, but just somewhere to get started.

Psychiatric Service Dog @sarge.in.serviceOpens in a new tab.

Paws With Purpose

Paws With PurposeOpens in a new tab. is based in Louisville, Kentucky. It is proud to provide highly trained companions to people living within a 35-mile radius.

  • Veterans with combat PTS are qualified to apply

Contact Paws With Purpose

Phone: 502-689-0804
Email: info@pawswithpurpose.org

Website: pawswithpurpose.comOpens in a new tab.

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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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