Service Dogs Kentucky 2021 Comprehensive Guide & Resource

Welcome to the complete Kentucky Service Dog Guide for 2021. Many people are confused about what service dogs are, who can use them, what certifications might be necessary, what businesses need to know, what landlords and people seeking residential tenancy need to know, and much more.

This article will discuss service dogs in Kentucky from a universal perspective, and hopefully answers your questions regarding this sometimes confusing subject.

Table of Contents

kentucky service dog laws

What is a Service Dog?


‘Service Dog’ Can Mean Different Things


Firstly, please understand that there are 3 very different, but important, definitions of ‘service dog’ or ‘service animal.’ 

This can explain a lot of the confusion around service dogs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Opens in a new tab., Fair Housing Act (FHA)Opens in a new tab. as well as the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA)Opens in a new tab., each have their own separate definition.

Each do not need to abide by the others’. This is just good to know to (try to) avoid any confusion.

Just keep it in mind whether you’re reading about public places, housing, or air travel. 

There are probably many more definitions, depending on who you ask (your mother-in-law?), but I think these are the most official, and most important to know if you really need the laws on service dogs.

people with disabilities kentucky

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 humans.

The ADA deals with issues around people with disabilities being permitted to bring their service dog into public places

If you have a service dog, you are allowed to go almost all the places that the general public is normally allowed.

There are some exceptions, such as religious organizations.

service dog ADA

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 FAQOpens in a new tab.

Emotional Support Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Comfort Dogs or Companion Animals Under the ADA


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’.

They do not have the same rights as service dogs under the ADA.

These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person.  Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

I suppose what this means is that Service Dogs, with their human, are allowed into almost all public places that the general public is invited (restaurants, public transportation, theatres, grocery stores, etc.)

READ ALSO:  American Airlines Updated Service & Emotional Support Animal Requirements


The same can not necessarily be said for people with these other types of dogs. So, a person with an emotional support animal may be excluded from a restaurant, for example, while a person with a service dog will be allowed. Of course individual establishments may vary, but service dogs as defined by the ADA are the only type of dogs covered by this law; therefore the only ones invited into almost all public places (with a few exceptions such as religious spaces)


Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADAOpens in a new tab.


Service Dogs Kentucky – Service Animal as Defined by the FHA (Fair Housing Act)

fair housing act

The Fair Housing Act governs the use of Service Dogs in housing situations. For housing situations, you can basically forget the ADA rules and switch to the FHA rules. 

There is good news; the definition of service animal is not as strict! Check out the definition here:

An assistance animal is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.

For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the Fair Housing Act nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified. While dogs are the most common type of assistance animal, other animals can also be assistance animals.

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.

service dog doctor note

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.

Reasonable Accommodations Under the Fair Housing ActOpens in a new tab.

Service Dogs Kentucky – Service Animal as Defined by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

air carrier access act

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 the Air Carrier Access Act (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 needing to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal.

Service Animals (Including Emotional Support Animals) – ACAAOpens in a new tab.


Service Dogs Kentucky – The ADA Does Not Require Proof of Certification for Public Access

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 (these are not legitimate).

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

Americans with Disabilities Act

  • People with disabilities have the right to train the dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program.
  • The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.
  • Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.

  • Mandatory registration of service animals is not permissible under the ADA.

There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.


ADA – Service Dogs FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)Opens in a new tab.


Translation? A person with a disability who is using a service dog can enter public places and use public services; the same as other members of the general public.

service dog kentucky ADA public access

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

Public Establishments May Only Ask You Two Things

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?

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

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 dogs questions

State vs. Federal Service Dog Laws

Just in case you aren’t already confused…

I must tell you that there are state-specific service dog/assistance dog laws, in addition to the ADA/Federal laws.

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


General Rights & Housing Rights Under Law for Service Dogs and Their People

state vs. federal service dog laws

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.

This also includes dogs-in-training who are accompanied by a trainer for training purposes. 

Kentucky Service Dogs In A Disaster

service dogs in disaster

Further, the 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


Check out the official service dogs Kentucky laws here

Kentucky Assistance Animal StatueOpens in a new tab.


Penalties for Violating Service Dog Laws

service dog kentucky justice
 In the case a person or establishment denies access to a person with a service dog, or otherwise violates the law, the punishments are as follows:
  • 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 Service Animal in Kentucky

Service Dogs Kentucky Definition

In Kentucky, a service animal is defined as the follows:

  • (a) “Bomb detection dog,” which means a dog that is trained to locate bombs or explosives by scent;
  • (b) “Narcotic detection dog,” which means a dog that is trained to locate narcotics by scent;
  • (c) “Patrol dog,” which means a dog that is trained to protect a peace officer and to apprehend a person;
  • (d) “Tracking dog,” which means a dog that is trained to track and find a missing person, escaped inmate, or fleeing felon;
  • (e) “Search and rescue dog,” which means a dog that is trained to locate lost or missing persons, victims of natural or man-made disasters, and human bodies;
  • (f) “Accelerant detection dog,” which means a dog that is trained for accelerant detection, commonly referred to as arson canines;
  • (g) “Cadaver dog,” which means a dog that is trained to find human remains;
  • (h) “Assistance dog,” which means any dog that is trained to meet the requirements of KRS 258.500;
  • (i) Any dog that is trained in more than one (1) of the disciplines specified in paragraphs (a) to (h) of this subsection; or
  • (j) “Police horse,” which means any horse that is owned, or the service of which is employed, by a law enforcement agency for the principal purpose of aiding in detection of criminal activity, enforcement of laws, and apprehension of offenders.

Definition of Person With a Disability (Under the ADA) Service Dogs Kentucky

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • A record of such an impairment; or
  • You are regarded as having such an impairment.
  • You must have a physical or mental impairment; and
  • The impairment must substantially limit your major life activities.


Register & Certify Your Service Dog in Kentucky

The truth is, the law does not require you to register or certify a service dog in Kentucky or any other state in the US. (*exception: New York City service dogs must be licensed by the city’s Department of Health).

The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) protects Service dogs.

Registration and certification is possible – but completely optional – and does not convey any legal rights under the ADA or the Department of Justice.

Read more here:

Service Dog Registration & Certification in the US – The Truth 

Best Service Dog Breeds & How To Choose One

Sam Amy Nelson

Sam Amy Nelson (she/her) is an advocate for people with disabilities and mental health.

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