new jersey service dogs

Service Dogs New Jersey – Epic Guide, FAQ + More [2022]

Welcome To Our Service Dogs New Jersey Guide For Humans

Welcome to our service dog laws in New Jersey guide and FAQ page, updated for 2022.

Service dog laws in New Jersey require that a specially trained service dog (sometimes known as “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.

Service dogs can help people with different types of disabilities
Service animals can help people with many different types of visible and invisible disabilities.
Border Collie Service Dog NJ
Border Collie Service Dog “Andromeda” @celestialbordercollies

Introduction to service dog laws in New Jersey

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

American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog New Jersey
American Cocker Spaniel Service Dog “Bartek” @bartek_spaniel_wspanialy

Feel free to also read about the federal ADA service dog laws (easy guide, summary & FAQ) (public access rights that are the same for all states) or our federal ADA workplace accommodation laws summary.

Summary of various service animal laws in New Jersey

Part of the reason why service dogs can be so confusing is that there are multiple laws around them. Here is a summary of the different laws relevant to New Jersey and their main purpose in general.

service dog laws New Jersey
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedog

In summary:

  • The ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act – is a federal law. It governs the use of service animals when public access rights are concerned. This law is also referred to for housing situations and employment situations with service animals.
  • The FHA – Fair Housing Act – is another federal law that governs the use of service animals – or what is known in this context as “assistance animal” when housing situations are concerned.
  • The ACAA – Air Carrier Access Act – is what is used when service animals will be taking to the skies with their handler. Fully trained service animals are allowed in the cabin of air planes with their handler as long as the meet the ACAA requirements, and fill out any required paperwork or documents prior to their flight.
  • State-specific service animal laws. Even though we have the federal ADA laws, each individual state may or may not have additional or “state-specific” service dog laws for their own area. Check with individual states for anything that may be different from the ADA laws. 
    • A common example is that under the ADA, service dogs in training are not allowed public access rights. However, certain states extend the same rights to service dogs in training, as fully trained animals have
    • Some states have laws for fake service dogs, others don’t (yet)
  • Section 504 – is similar to the ADA, and protects the rights of students with disabilities in educational settings.

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 centres, schools, buses, taxis, hotelsAirbnb, amusement parks, doctor’s offices, hospitals, trains, and National Parks, just as a few examples.

What Is The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination?

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits discrimination and harassment in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on the following, whether it is actual or perceived.

  • Race
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Disability
  • As well as some other protected characteristics

Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws – Summary & FAQ (This is a summary of the Americans with Disabilities Act public access rights that are the same for all U.S. States).

Working K9 Service Dog Border Collie Blue and Brown Eyes
Working K9 “Remmi” @working.collie.remmi
  1. People With Disabilities Must Be Accommodated
  2. What is a Service Dog?
  3. What is a Guide Dog?
  4. Fees
  5. Discrimination in Housing
  6. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
  7. Moving Into No-Pets Housing with ESA
  8. More Info About Housing
  9. Filing a Discrimination Complaint
  10. Registration & Certification
  11. What is the ADA?
  12. Where Does The ADA Apply?
  13. Documentation
  14. Miniature Horses
  15. Therapy Dogs
  16. Service Dogs Under Control
  17. Information For Businesses
  18. Employment
  19. Psychiatric Service Dogs
  20. Training, Service Dogs in Training (SDiT)
  21. How to Make Your Dog a Service Dog
  22. Contact NJ Civil Rights Department
service animals are not pets
Service dogs are not pets, even though they may look like pets.

1. People With Disabilities Must Be Accommodated

It is illegal in New Jersey to deny full and equal access to someone with a disability, just because they are accompanied by a service dog or guide dog.

People with disabilities and service Dog in New Jersey
Kylie’s “Lucy On Duty” Service Dog and “Where I Go, You Go” (Hugo) Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe

2. What Is a Service Dog?

Since there are different service animal definitions depending on context (public access rights, air travel, housing) we’ll go through the different ones right now. As you’ll see, they are similar, but the differences are important to understand.

The ADA Service Animal Definition for Public Access Rights

The federal ADA law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in:

  • Employment
  • State and local government
  • Public accommodations
  • Commercial facilities
  • Transportation
  • Telecommunications
  • United States Congress

Under the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act federal laws, “Service animal means any dog 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for purposes of this definition.”

The work or tasks that the dog does must be directly related to a specific person’s disability. In addition, the work or tasks must help to mitigate at least some of the effects of that disability.

It’s important to note that while dogs are the only animal defined here, there is a separate ADA provision for the use of a miniature horse as a service animal.

Siberian Husky Service Dog
Syncope Alert Service Dog “Kylie’s Lucy On Duty” @lucytheservicesibe

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) Definition of Assistance Animal

Under the FHA, “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.”

service animals are not pets
Service animals are not pets – they are working animals – even though they might look like pets, kind of like this flaming sun and juicy orange.
Service dog laws in New Jersey
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

The Air Carrier Access Act Definition of Service Animal

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.

Psychiatric Service Dog Air Plane
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

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

Service Dog in Training New Jersey
“Kylie’s Where I Go, You Go” (Hugo) Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe
What Service Dogs Can Do
Service dogs can help people with a wide variety of visible and invisible disabilities.

New Jersey Definition of Service Dog

“Service dog” means any dog individually trained to the requirements of a person with a disability including, but not limited to minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or retrieving dropped items. This term shall include a “seizure dog” trained to alert or otherwise assist persons with epilepsy or other seizure disorders.” – New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

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

What Are 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
  • 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 (PTSDduring an anxiety attack
  • Doing other specific work or performing other special tasks
  • 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. It seems like some dogs just naturally have this talent, but the mechanisms aren’t understood enough to be able to train it reliably.

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

Siberian Husky service dog in training New Jersey
Siberian Husky Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @the.borealis.pack

3. What is a Guide Dog?

A guide dog is for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They are also used for people with visual impairments. Guide dogs must be professionally trained by a recognized institute. These organizations are recognized for the work they do to rehabilitate people who are deaf or blind.

What is a service dog in New Jersey
Service Dog “Kodiak” @dog.human.duo

4. Extra Fees Due To a Service Dog

Extra fees due to a service dog
Medical Alert Service Dog “Koda” @thatlilbearkoda

Businesses and entities are not permitted to charge extra because of a service dog or guide dog on premises.

People with service dogs, however, are responsible for any damage that the dog does to the premises.

Read more: Federal ADA Service Dog Laws, Easy Guide & FAQ

5. Discrimination in Housing

Service dogs discrimination in housing
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

Discrimination based on a person’s disability, or the disability of someone associated with that person is illegal. This includes discrimination of:

  • Actual buyer
  • Renter
  • Owner
  • Occupant

Professional guide dogs and trained service dogs are medical assistance devices that happen to be alive; they are not pets. Therefore, “no pets” policies do not apply to prohibit a person with a disability from an opportunity because of their service dog or guide dog.

6. Emotional Support Animals in New Jersey

Emotional Support Animals
Service animals are “task-trained” for a particular person’s disability. Emotional support animals are not usually task-trained.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional Support Animals in New Jersey are animals that help people who are living with a disability.

Your animal is considered an “emotional support animal” (ESA) if:

  • Your treating doctor or other mental health professional has determined the animal helps to improve at least one symptom of your disability, and
NJ Service Dog in Training
Kylie’s “Where I Go, You Go” (Hugo) Service Dog in Training (SDiT) @lucytheservicesibe

New Jersey Emotional Support Animal Laws

In New Jersey, emotional support animals are governed by various laws. Here are some facts about NJ emotional support animal laws in different contexts.

  • Emotional support animals (ESAs) are not automatically exempt from a housing provider’s no-pet policies 
  • Someone with a disability can request a “reasonable accommodation” for an ESA in a housing situation, and housing providers need to be accommodating unless they can show that allowing an ESA would be an undue burden on its operations
  • ESA’s do not need to be specially trained in order to qualify for a reasonable accommodation for a housing situation
  • Animals other than dogs may also function as emotional support, therapy or assistance animals in housing situations under the Fair Housing Act (I think that is why ESAs are called “ assistance animals,” not “service dogs” under this Act)
  • Payment may be required for any specific damage done to the premises by an ESA
  • It is illegal to charge someone with a disability an extra fee to keep a guide or service dog or an emotional support, therapy or assistance animal (ESA)
  • ESA’s may not travel in the cabin of a plane with their human under the ACAA; although, individual airlines may vary. ESAs may still travel through the air as a pet
  • Emotional support animals are not covered by the ADA for public access rights, so they can be denied access to public places, although individual businesses may vary
  • ESAs can still visit “pet-friendly” public accommodations with their handler
  • ESAs can be requested as a reasonable accommodation in an employment situation under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Emotional support animals do not need to be registered for any reason. No legitimate ESA registration system exists. Websites selling ESA papers online are not recognized by the Department of Justice nor the ADA, and purchasing one of those piece of papers from the internet does not give someone any special rights. What is needed for housing and/or employment is a letter from a doctor or other medical professional merely stating the animal is required

Disability Defined by LAD – New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

“Disability” is defined differently for different contexts and it can be confusing. It’s important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act definition of “Disability” is a legal definition, not a medical one.

For the New Jersey definition of “Disability” …

“Disability” means:

  • Physical disability
  • Sensory disability
  • Infirmity
  • Malformation
  • Disfigurement which is caused by bodily injury, birth defect, or illness
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • Paralysis
  • Amputation
  • Lack of physical coordination
  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Deafness or hearing impairment
  • Muteness or speech impairment
  • Physical reliance on a service or guide dog, wheelchair, or other remedial appliance or device
  • Mental disability
  • Psychological disability
  • Developmental disability
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Psychological disability
  • Physiological or neurological conditions which prevents the typical exercise of any bodily or mental functions
  • AIDS or HIV infection
Blue heeler dog
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

NJ Emotional Support Animal Laws

In New Jersey, emotional support animals are governed by various laws. Here are some facts about NJ emotional support animal laws in different contexts.

  • Emotional support animals (ESAs) are not automatically exempt from a housing provider’s no-pet policies (as per NJ Law Against Discrimination)
  • You can request a reasonable accommodation for an ESA in a housing situation, and housing providers need to be accommodating unless they can show that allowing your ESA would be an undue burden on its operations
  • ESA’s do not need to be specially trained in order to qualify for a reasonable accommodation for a housing situations
  • Animals other than dogs may also function as emotional support, therapy or assistance animals in housing situations (I think that is why ESAs are called “animals,” not “dogs”)
  • Payment may be required for any specific damage done to the premises by an ESA
  • It is illegal in NJ to charge someone with a disability an extra fee to keep a guide or service dog or an emotional support, therapy or assistance animal (ESA)
  • Emotional support animals are no longer included in the ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act) definition of service animal
  • ESA’s may not travel in the cabin of a plane with their human under the ACAA; although, individual airlines may vary. ESAs may still travel through the air as a pet
  • Emotional support animals are not covered by the ADA for public access rights, so they can be denied access to public places, although individual businesses may vary
  • ESAs can still visit pet-friendly public accommodations with their handler
  • ESAs can be requested as a reasonable accommodation in an employment situation under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Emotional support animals do not need to be registered for any reason. No legitimate ESA registration system exists. Websites selling ESA papers online are not recognized by the Department of Justice nor the ADA
service dog vs emotional support dog
Service animals are task-trained for a particular disability. ESAs are not usually task-trained. Task training goes well above and beyond the basic socialization and dog obedience basics
What is an emotional support animal in New Jersey
Therapy Dog “Eddie” with “Boomer” @eddieandboomer

Reasonable accommodations

Reasonable accommodations” must be made for occupants with a disability if their medical professional has prescribed the use of an emotional support animal, therapy animal, or assistance animal.

Examples of “reasonable accommodations” may include things like:

  • Granting an exception to “no pets” policies that bans pets
  • Granting an exception to a rule that imposes weight and/or size restrictions for animals (some assistance animals are on the larger side)

Housing Providers May Impose Reasonable Conditions on Approvals

Housing providers may impose reasonable conditions, such as requiring animals not roam around unsupervised. Or, that the occupant or somebody else clean up after the animal.

ESA’s Are Different From Guide Dogs & Service Dogs

Emotional Support Animal, Service Animal, Guide Dog New Jersey
Tandem Medical Alert and Response Service Dogs @cricket_n_saraphena

Service dog vs emotional support animal

Service dogs and guide dogs are different from ESA’s (emotional support animals). Service dogs and guide dogs are individually trained to assist with a specific person’s disability. Emotional support animals do not need to be individually trained, since their mere presence is often what a person needs from them.

No pets policies

Service dogs and guide dogs are automatically exempt from “no pets” policies put in place by many housing providers. Service dogs and guide dogs are not pets.

However, since emotional support animals are not individually trained, they are not classified as “service dogs,” and have some slightly different rules for certain things.

For example, service dogs and guide dogs must be permitted into a restaurant, but emotional support animals are not necessarily allowed. It would be up to the individual business or entity to decide.

Read more: Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog

7. Moving Into a Building With a “No Pets” Policy With Your ESA (Emotional Support Animal)

Emotional Support Animal, Service Animal with no pets policy
Canadian Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelle

If you’re planning to move into a housing situation that has a “no pets” policy in place, you need to do a few things in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Requesting reasonable accommodation

You need to request “reasonable accommodation” for your ESA. Part of your request might include a requirement by your housing provider to show documentation from your doctor or other health professional.

This needs to indicate:

  • You have a disability, one that is defined in the LAD (New Jersey Law Against Discrimination)
  • That your ESA is necessary to provide you with equal access to enjoy and to use the housing arrangement or dwelling
  • Your ESA improves at least one of your symptoms related to your disability

After You Submit Your Request For Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation request for a service dog in housing
Canadian Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelle

Responsibilities of housing providers

Please note that in New Jersey, housing providers aren’t automatically required to waive their “no pets” policy in order to accommodate an emotional support animal (ESA).

Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations, but they aren’t required to do everything in their power to accommodate a disability.

Is your request for accommodation reasonable?

If you can show that you do indeed have a disability as per the LAD, and that keeping your ESA is necessary so that you can experience equal opportunity to use and enjoy the housing/dwelling, and if the housing provider can not show that an ESA would be an undue burden to it’s operations, then your request is reasonable. Read more at New Jersey Division of Civil Rights.

8. Service Dogs, Emotional Support, & Assistance Dogs in Housing

service dog poodle doodle
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piper

Requirements of assistance animals in housing

As per the Fair Housing Act, emotional support, therapy, or assistance animal do not need to be specifically trained to assist a person who has a disability. This is the usual requirement for service dogs and public access rights, such as taking a service dog into a movie theater or restaurant.

Obtain a doctor’s letter

But for housing matters, what is needed is a letter from your doctor or other health professional which states that you do indeed require an emotional support, service dog, or therapy or assistance dog for your day-to-day well being.

Dogs, or other animals?

These animals are usually dogs. However, other animals can also perform this important role as an emotional support, therapy, or assistance animal.

Fees for service animals / assistance animals in housing

Housing providers may require a payment for any specific damage that a service dog, emotional support animal, therapy animal or assistance animal does to the premises.

Other than that, it’s illegal to charge a person with a disability an extra fee because of their guide dog, service dog, emotional support animal, therapy animal, or assistance animal.

9. Filing a Complaint About Discrimination

Service Dog
Multipurpose Service Dog “Eri” @eri_servicedog

Two options

If you need to file a complaint because discrimination has occurred, first of all, sorry to hear that that happened. There are 2 options for when you feel a housing provider has violated the LAD (New Jersey Law Against Discrimination).

  • Administrative Complaints – These must be filed within 180 days of the discrimination. Contact New Jersey DCR (Division of Civil Rights) and they will start an investigation. You can use this option if you’ve been injured by discrimination, or if you believe the discrimination is about to occur

The Civil Rights Division enforces federal laws that protect you from discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, disability status, sex, religion, familial status, or loss of other constitutional rights.

If you believe your civil rights, or someone else’s, have been violated, submit a report using our online form.

U.S. Department of Justice

10. Register & Certify Your Service Dog in New Jersey

The truth is that you are not legally required to register or certify a service dog in New Jersey or any other state in the U.S. Service dogs are protected under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws.

In addition, there is no state registration system in place for New Jersey.

Registration and certification done online from non-government websites does not convey any legal rights under the ADA or the Department of Justice. Buying a piece of paper from the internet does not turn a dog into a service dog. 

Service Animal Registration Not Necessary
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Service Animal registration and/or certification are simply not required for public access rights. A legitimate federal or state system does not exist.
Dogs with goggles
Why do service dogs wear goggles? “Luna” and “Ozzie” @luna_exploregon

11. 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 New Jersey
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

12. 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
Where does the ADA Apply in NJ?
Medical Alert & Response Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphena

Public Accommodations as Defined by NJ Laws

“A place of public accommodation” includes, but is not be limited to:

  • Tavern
  • Roadhouse
  • Hotel
  • Motel
  • Trailer camp
  • Summer camp
  • Day camp
  • Resort camp
  • Producer
  • Manufacturer
  • Wholesaler
  • Distributor
  • Retail shop
  • Store
  • Establishment
  • Concession
  • Restaurant
  • Eating house
  • Place where food is sold for consumption on the premises
  • Any place maintained for the sale of ice cream, ice and fruit
  • Any garage
  • Any public conveyance operated on land or water or in the air
  • Any stations and terminals
  • Bathhouse
  • Boardwalk
  • Seashore accommodation
  • Any auditorium
  • Meeting place
  • Halls
  • Theatre
  • Motion-picture house
  • Music hall
  • Roof garden
  • Skating rink
  • Swimming pool
  • Amusement and recreation park
  • Fair
  • Bowling alley
  • Gymnasium
  • Shooting gallery
  • Billiard and pool parlor
  • Other places of amusement
  • Any comfort station
  • Any dispensary, clinic, or hospital
  • Any public library
  • Any kindergarten, primary and secondary school
  • Trade or business schools
  • High school
  • Academy
  • College and university
  • Any educational institution under the supervision of the State Board of Education or the Commissioner of Education of the State of New Jersey
  • (NJ Code) – New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination
Border Collie Service Dog New Jersey
Border Collie Service Dog “Andromeda”  @celestialbordercollies

13. Documentation

  • There is no formal service animal certification process or paperwork that is recognized by New Jersey 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 New Jersey
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 New Jersey 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.

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

14. 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.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 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
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @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
Flirty The Mini Service Horse
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @flirty.the.mini.service.horse
service mini horse
“Flirty” The Mini Service Horse @flirty.the.mini.service.horse

15. 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
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 New Jersey
Therapy Dog “Eddie” with “Boomer” @eddieandboomer

16. Service Dogs Under Control

  • 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
Canadian Multipurpose Service Dog “Everest” @katelynburelle

17. Information For Businesses

It’s obviously important for businesses and other “covered entities” to be aware of service dog laws in New Jersey as well as the federal laws. If not, they could be accused of discrimination.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the following:

  • Asking about a disability
  • Requiring medical documentation
  • Requiring a special identification card or training documentation for the dog (or mini horse)
  • Ask that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task
  • Charge an extra fee because of the animal
  • Segregate the customer with a disability from other customers

Permitted Questions to Ask

If the reason for the service dog is obvious, then businesses and other covered entities may not inquire about the use of the animal.

When it’s not obvious – and many disabilities are invisible – businesses may only ask two questions to someone using a service dog. That’s it.

The questions are:

(1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

(2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Medical Alert Service Dog New Jersey
Medical Alert Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphena

18. Employment

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.

Animals other than dogs

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: Federal ADA Workplace Accommodation Guide

Husky Service Dog New Jersey
“Kylie’s Lucy On Duty” (Lucy) Service Dog @lucytheservicesibe

19. 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 behaviours
  • Alerting the handler to rage or other types of strong emotions
  • Interrupting self-harming behaviours
  • 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: Psychiatric Service Dog Tasks – 17 Examples

service dog vs emotional support dog
“Trained” refers to a dog being task-trained for a unique person’s disability characteristics. This kind of training goes well above and beyond the basic socialization and obedience dog training.

Psychiatric service dog vs emotional support animal

The difference between psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs is simplePsychiatric 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
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

20. Training & Service Dogs in Training

Service dogs in New Jersey 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 NJ
Service Dog in Training – “Bishop”
service dog in training New Jersey
Service Dog in Training (SDiT) “Bishop”

Many people train their dog by themselves or with some help, as many service animal programs have limited resources and long waiting lists.

Federal ADA laws

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: Service Animal In Training – U.S. State Guide

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

U.S. Snapshot

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

Service dog laws New Jersey

A service or guide dog trainer, while engaged in the actual training process and activities of service dogs or guide dogs, shall have the same rights and privileges with respect to access to public facilities, and the same responsibilities as are applicable to a person with a disability.

New Jersey Code

The following is a quote from the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD)

“Guide or service dog trainer” means any person who is employed by an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, including, but not limited to, those persons who are blind, have visual impairments, or are deaf or have hearing impairments, as reputable and competent to provide dogs with training, as defined in this section, and who is actually involved in the training process.

21. How to Make Your Dog a Service Dog

Wondering how you can make your dog a service dog in New Jersey? Stop making that sound so easy! To make your dog a service dog in New Jersey, 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
  • Somebody such as a dog trainer could help you
  • Sometimes a professional service dog training program or organization can help to provide fully trained dogs at no or little cost, but these often have long waiting lists (2-3+ years is not uncommon) and limited resources, but it’s still a possible option
  • Any combination of these can be used to successfully train a service dog to be ready for public access

Even though service animals do not need to be professionally trained by an organization or school, they do need to be trained for your disability. This is not usually an easy task, and many people need at least some help.

Not just any dog

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. Some dogs are very reactive to other dogs, or are scared of everything.

Read more: Service Dog Training Basics & FAQ

Autism service dog New Jersey
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piper

22. Transportation

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 other 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 New Jersey
Psychiatric Service Dog “Sarge” @sarge.in.service

Customer’s responsibility

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 New Jersey
Blue Heeler “Snow Leopard” @snow_leopard_81

Responsibility of operators

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 New Jersey
Goldendoodle Autism Service Dog “Piper” @bri.and.piper

Contact NJ Civil Rights

To file a complaint…

To file a complaint or get more information, you can contact the nearest DCR office, or visit our www.NJCivilRights.gov


Atlantic City Regional Office:
1325 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Phone: (609) 441-3100
Fax: (609) 441-3578
TDD#: (609) 441-7648


Camden Regional Office:
One Port Center, 4th Floor, Suite 402
2 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103
Phone: (856) 614-2550
Fax: (856) 614-2568
TDD# (609) 757-2958


Newark Regional Office:
31 Clinton Street, Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973) 648-2700
Fax: (973) 648-4405 / (973) 648-7582
TDD# (973) 648-4678


Trenton Regional Office:
140 East Front Street / P.O. Box 090
Trenton, NJ 08625-0090
Phone: (609) 292-4605
Fax: (609) 984-3812
TDD# (609) 292-1785

Medical alert service dog NJ
Service dogs are indeed allowed to play with sticks when they’re not working. Medical Alert Service Dog @cricket_n_saraphena

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