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What Is The ADA?

This guide provides an overview of Federal civil rights laws that ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities. To find out more about how these laws may apply to you, contact the agencies and organizations listed below.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

ADA Title I: Employment

Title I requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For example, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant’s disability before a job offer is made, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship. Religious entities with 15 or more employees are covered under title I.

Title I complaints must be filed with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge is filed with a designated State or local fair employment practice agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in Federal court only after they receive a “right-to-sue” letter from the EEOC.

Charges of employment discrimination on the basis of disability may be filed at any U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. Field offices are located in 50 cities throughout the U.S. and are listed in most telephone directories under “U.S. Government.” For the appropriate EEOC field office in your geographic area, contact:

(800) 669-4000 (voice)
(800) 669-6820 (TTY)

www.eeoc.gov

Publications and information on EEOC-enforced laws may be obtained by calling:

(800) 669-3362 (voice)
(800) 800-3302 (TTY)

For information on how to accommodate a specific individual with a disability, contact the Job Accommodation Network at:

(800) 526-7234 (voice)
(800) 781-9403 (TTY)

http://askjan.org


ADA Title II: State and Local Government Activities

Title II covers all activities of State and local governments regardless of the government entity’s size or receipt of Federal funding. Title II requires that State and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities (e.g. public education, employment, transportation, recreation, health care, social services, courts, voting, and town meetings).

State and local governments are required to follow specific architectural standards in the new construction and alteration of their buildings. They also must relocate programs or otherwise provide access in inaccessible older buildings, and communicate effectively with people who have hearing, vision, or speech disabilities. Public entities are not required to take actions that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. They are required to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination, unless they can demonstrate that doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity being provided.

Complaints of title II violations may be filed with the Department of Justice within 180 days of the date of discrimination. In certain situations, cases may be referred to a mediation program sponsored by the Department. The Department may bring a lawsuit where it has investigated a matter and has been unable to resolve violations. For more information, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section – NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530

www.ada.gov

(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)

Title II may also be enforced through private lawsuits in Federal court. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or any other Federal agency, or to receive a “right-to-sue” letter, before going to court.


ADA Title II: Public Transportation

The transportation provisions of title II cover public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (e.g. subways, commuter rails, Amtrak). Public transportation authorities may not discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of their services. They must comply with requirements for accessibility in newly purchased vehicles, make good faith efforts to purchase or lease accessible used buses, remanufacture buses in an accessible manner, and, unless it would result in an undue burden, provide paratransit where they operate fixed-route bus or rail systems. Paratransit is a service where individuals who are unable to use the regular transit system independently (because of a physical or mental impairment) are picked up and dropped off at their destinations. Questions and complaints about public transportation should be directed to:

Office of Civil Rights
Federal Transit Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, Room E54-427
Room 9102
Washington, D.C. 20590

www.fta.dot.gov/ada

(888) 446-4511 (voice/relay)


ADA Title III: Public Accommodations

Title III covers businesses and nonprofit service providers that are public accommodations, privately operated entities offering certain types of courses and examinations, privately operated transportation, and commercial facilities. Public accommodations are private entities who own, lease, lease to, or operate facilities such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctors’ offices, homeless shelters, transportation depots, zoos, funeral homes, day care centers, and recreation facilities including sports stadiums and fitness clubs. Transportation services provided by private entities are also covered by title III.

Public accommodations must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment. They also must comply with specific requirements related to architectural standards for new and altered buildings; reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures; effective communication with people with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities; and other access requirements. Additionally, public accommodations must remove barriers in existing buildings where it is easy to do so without much difficulty or expense, given the public accommodation’s resources.

Courses and examinations related to professional, educational, or trade-related applications, licensing, certifications, or credentialing must be provided in a place and manner accessible to people with disabilities, or alternative accessible arrangements must be offered.

Commercial facilities, such as factories and warehouses, must comply with the ADA’s architectural standards for new construction and alterations.

Complaints of title III violations may be filed with the Department of Justice. In certain situations, cases may be referred to a mediation program sponsored by the Department. The Department is authorized to bring a lawsuit where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of title III, or where an act of discrimination raises an issue of general public importance. Title III may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (or any Federal agency), or to receive a “right-to-sue” letter, before going to court. For more information, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section – NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530

www.ada.gov

(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)


ADA Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services

Title IV addresses telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires common carriers (telephone companies) to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services (TRS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS enables callers with hearing and speech disabilities who use TTYs (also known as TDDs), and callers who use voice telephones to communicate with each other through a third party communications assistant. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set minimum standards for TRS services. Title IV also requires closed captioning of Federally funded public service announcements. For more information about TRS, contact the FCC at:

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554

www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro

(888) 225-5322 (Voice)
(888) 835-5322 (TTY)


Telecommunications Act

Section 255 and Section 251(a)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, require manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. These amendments ensure that people with disabilities will have access to a broad range of products and services such as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call-waiting, and operator services, that were often inaccessible to many users with disabilities. For more information, contact:

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554

www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro

(888) 225-5322 (Voice)
(888) 835-5322 (TTY)


Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a “no pets” policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (The landlord is not required to pay for the changes.) The Act further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.

Complaints of Fair Housing Act violations may be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For more information or to file a complaint, contact:

Office of Compliance and Disability Rights Division
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, S.W. , Room 5242
Washington, D.C. 20410

www.hud.gov/offices/fheo

(800) 669-9777 (voice)
(800) 927-9275 (TTY)

For questions about the accessibility provisions of the Fair Housing Act, contact Fair Housing FIRST at:

www.fairhousingfirst.org

(888) 341-7781 (voice/TTY)

For publications, you may call the Housing and Urban Development Customer Service Center at:

(800) 767-7468 (voice/relay)

Additionally, the Department of Justice can file cases involving a pattern or practice of discrimination. The Fair Housing Act may also be enforced through private lawsuits.


Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination in air transportation by domestic and foreign air carriers against qualified individuals with physical or mental impairments. It applies only to air carriers that provide regularly scheduled services for hire to the public. Requirements address a wide range of issues including boarding assistance and certain accessibility features in newly built aircraft and new or altered airport facilities. People may enforce rights under the Air Carrier Access Act by filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, or by bringing a lawsuit in Federal court. For more information or to file a complaint, contact:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov

(202) 366-2220 (voice)
(202) 366-0511 (TTY)

(800) 778-4838 (voice)
(800) 455-9880 (TTY)


Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 generally requires polling places across the United States to be physically accessible to people with disabilities for federal elections. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, a political subdivision must provide an alternate means of casting a ballot on the day of the election. This law also requires states to make available registration and voting aids for disabled and elderly voters, including information by TTYs (also known as TDDs) or similar devices. For more information, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Voting Section – 1800 G
Washington, D.C. 20530

(800) 253-3931 (voice/TTY)


National Voter Registration Act

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” makes it easier for all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote. One of the basic purposes of the Act is to increase the historically low registration rates of minorities and persons with disabilities that have resulted from discrimination. The Motor Voter Act requires all offices of State-funded programs that are primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities to provide all program applicants with voter registration forms, to assist them in completing the forms, and to transmit completed forms to the appropriate State official. For more information, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Voting Section – 1800 G
Washington, D.C. 20530

www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting

(800) 253-3931 (voice/TTY)


Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to investigate conditions of confinement at State and local government institutions such as prisons, jails, pretrial detention centers, juvenile correctional facilities, publicly operated nursing homes, and institutions for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities. Its purpose is to allow the Attorney General to uncover and correct widespread deficiencies that seriously jeopardize the health and safety of residents of institutions. The Attorney General does not have authority under CRIPA to investigate isolated incidents or to represent individual institutionalized persons.

The Attorney General may initiate civil law suits where there is reasonable cause to believe that conditions are “egregious or flagrant,” that they are subjecting residents to “grievous harm,” and that they are part of a “pattern or practice” of resistance to residents’ full enjoyment of constitutional or Federal rights, including title II of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. For more information or to bring a matter to the Department of Justice’s attention, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Special Litigation Section – PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

www.usdoj.gov/crt/split

(877) 218-5228 (voice/TTY)


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (formerly called P.L. 94-142 or the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.

IDEA requires public school systems to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) for each child. The specific special education and related services outlined in each IEP reflect the individualized needs of each student.

IDEA also mandates that particular procedures be followed in the development of the IEP. Each student’s IEP must be developed by a team of knowledgeable persons and must be at least reviewed annually. The team includes the child’s teacher; the parents, subject to certain limited exceptions; the child, if determined appropriate; an agency representative who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education; and other individuals at the parents’ or agency’s discretion.

If parents disagree with the proposed IEP, they can request a due process hearing and a review from the State educational agency if applicable in that state. They also can appeal the State agency’s decision to State or Federal court. For more information, contact:

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-7100

www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep

(202) 245-7468 (voice/TTY)


Rehabilitation Act

The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors. The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Section 501

Section 501 requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment by Federal agencies of the executive branch. To obtain more information or to file a complaint, employees should contact their agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

Section 503

Section 503 requires affirmative action and prohibits employment discrimination by Federal government contractors and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000. For more information on section 503, contact:

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room C-3325
Washington, D.C. 20210

www.dol.gov/ofccp/index.htm

(202) 693-0106 (voice/relay)

Section 504

Section 504 states that “no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under” any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the United States Postal Service.

Each Federal agency has its own set of section 504 regulations that apply to its own programs. Agencies that provide Federal financial assistance also have section 504 regulations covering entities that receive Federal aid. Requirements common to these regulations include reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities; program accessibility; effective communication with people who have hearing or vision disabilities; and accessible new construction and alterations. Each agency is responsible for enforcing its own regulations. Section 504 may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary to file a complaint with a Federal agency or to receive a “right-to-sue” letter before going to court.

For information on how to file 504 complaints with the appropriate agency, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section – NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530

www.ada.gov

(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)

Section 508

Section 508 establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. Section 508 requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.

An accessible information technology system is one that can be operated in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. For example, a system that provides output only in visual format may not be accessible to people with visual impairments and a system that provides output only in audio format may not be accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some individuals with disabilities may need accessibility-related software or peripheral devices in order to use systems that comply with Section 508. For more information on section 508, contact:

U.S. General Services Administration
Office of Government-wide Policy IT Accessiblity & Workflow Division (ITAW)
1800 F Street, N.W.
Room 2222 – MEC:ITAW
Washington, DC 20405-0001

www.gsa.gov/portal/content/105254

(202) 501-4906 (voice)

U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111

www.access-board.gov

800-872-2253 (voice)
800-993-2822 (TTY)


Architectural Barriers Act

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) requires that buildings and facilities that are designed, constructed, or altered with Federal funds, or leased by a Federal agency, comply with Federal standards for physical accessibility. ABA requirements are limited to architectural standards in new and altered buildings and in newly leased facilities. They do not address the activities conducted in those buildings and facilities. Facilities of the U.S. Postal Service are covered by the ABA. For more information or to file a complaint, contact:

U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20004-1111

www.access-board.gov

(800) 872-2253 (voice)
(800) 993-2822 (TTY)


General Sources of Disability Rights Information

ADA Information Line
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)

www.ada.gov

Regional Disability and Business
Technical Assistance Centers
(800) 949-4232 (voice/TTY)

www.adata.org


Statute Citations

Air Carrier Access Act of 1986
49 U.S.C. § 41705

Implementing Regulation:
14 CFR Part 382

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.

Implementing Regulations:
29 CFR Parts 1630, 1602 (Title I, EEOC)
28 CFR Part 35 (Title II, Department of Justice)
49 CFR Parts 27, 37, 38 (Title II, III, Department of Transportation)
28 CFR Part 36 (Title III, Department of Justice)
47 CFR §§ 64.601 et seq. (Title IV, FCC)

Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
42 U.S.C. §§ 4151 et seq.

Implementing Regulation:
41 CFR Subpart 101-19.6

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act
42 U.S.C. §§ 1997 et seq.

Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988
42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.

Implementing Regulation:
24 CFR Parts 100 et seq.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq.

Implementing Regulation:
34 CFR Part 300

National Voter Registration Act of 1993
42 U.S.C. §§ 1973gg et seq.

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
29 U.S.C. § 791

Implementing Regulation:
29 CFR § 1614.203

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
29 U.S.C. § 793

Implementing Regulation:
41 CFR Part 60-741

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
29 U.S.C. § 794

Over 20 Implementing Regulations for federally assisted programs, including:
34 CFR Part 104 (Department of Education)
45 CFR Part 84 (Department of Health and Human Services)
28 CFR §§ 42.501 et seq.

Over 95 Implementing Regulations for federally conducted programs, including:
28 CFR Part 39 (Department of Justice)

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
29 U.S.C. § 794d

Telecommunications Act of 1996
47 U.S.C. §§ 255, 251(a)(2)

Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984
42 U.S.C. §§ 1973ee et seq.

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Travel

Flying With Your Service Dog


Air travelers who want information about the rights of persons with disabilities in air travel or who experience disability-related air travel service problems may call the Hotline to obtain assistance at:

1-800-778-4838
(voice) or
1-800-455-9880
(TTY).


For disability discrimination complaints regarding airlines:

send your complaint to:
U.S. Department of Transportation
Aviation Consumer Protection Division , C-75-D
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20590



Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Attn: C-75-D
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

call 202-366-2220 (TTY 202-366-0511)

OR send an email through this webform: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/escomplaint/es.cfm



For complaints regarding security checkpoints:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Mail Stop #0800
245 Murray Lane, S.W.
Building 41
Washington, D.C. 20598



Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Director, Office of Civil Rights and Liberties
601 South 12th Street – West Tower, TSA-6
Arlington, Virginia 22202
Attn: External Programs Division


Airport Relief Stations

Under construction. We’re collecting information on the location and accessibility of service dog relief stations at major airports. If you have information about an airport not yet listed, please use the contact page to let us know about it.



“If you need to leave the secure boarding area to relieve your animal, you must undergo the full screening process again. Inform the Security Officer upon your return to the security checkpoint and she/him will move you to the front of the screening line to expedite the screening process.”
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/editorial_1056.shtm

Carry a copy of this webpage with you. Security officials will sometimes argue about the policy so you’ll want to be able to show it to them in writing. Print the actual webpage so they can see it’s from their own site. Also make sure you have this phone number for TSA if you have any other problems related to your disability or service animal at security checkpoints: 1-877-336-4872

“§382.51(5) In cooperation with the airport operator and in consultation with local service animal training organization(s), you must provide animal relief areas for service animals that accompany passengers departing, connecting, or arriving at an airport on your flights.” page 142

“§382.91(c) As a carrier at a U.S. airport, you must, on request, in cooperation with the airport operator, provide for escorting a passenger with a service animal to an animal relief area provided under §382.51(a)(5) of this Part.” page 153

New ACAA regulations effective May 13, 2009
Part 382: http://airconsumer.dot.gov/rules/Part%20382-2008.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions:
http://airconsumer.dot.gov/rules/FAQ_5_13_09.pdf (published May 13, 2009)



Minneapolis-St. Paul

There are relief areas at both terminals:
The Terminal 1-Lindbergh location is outside Door 1 on the Baggage Claim Level. Follow the signs to your left. The area is fenced on three sides and has a wood chip base.
At Terminal 2-Humphrey travelers should use the grassy area just outside and to the right of Door 6 on Level 1 near Baggage Claim.
* Passengers traveling with a service animal can request an escort from their airline or Travelers Assistance to the pet relief area.
http://www.mspairport.com/accessibility/accessibility-faqs.aspx#pet_relief


Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

– Bush Intercontinental provides customers with assistance animal and pet relief areas outside of Terminals A, B, C and D.
– For Terminals A, B and C, upon entering the baggage claim hall, simply follow the directional assistance animal and pet relief signs.
– For Terminal D, the assistance animal and pet relief area is located on the outside, on the ticketing level. Directional signage is provided.
http://www.fly2houston.com/iahTerminals (scroll down near the bottom–this page includes a printable map of the terminal)


Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport (ATL)

“To accommodate passengers’ pets and guide dogs, Hartsfield-Jackson has a Poochie Park located on the lower level of Terminal North outside door LN2 to the right of the building. Owners can take animals to this grassy area and allow pets to relieve themselves. Owners are expected to clean up after their animals if possible with scoopers provided on site. Pet owners whose animals experience an accident elsewhere around the terminal may use the Poochie Park scoopers and receptacles for clean-up.

“There are also two other areas where pets may relieve themselves in the grassy knoll located in the Ground Transportation area on Terminal South outside of doors W1 and W2. Currently, Hartsfield-Jackson does not have pet facilities inside the secured areas. We recommend owners take advantage of the above locations if possible.”

http://www.atlanta-airport.com/forms/passenger/frmpassengerinformation_p…


Baltimore Washington International (BWI)

The Pet Relief Area can be found at the end of Concourse E near the International Terminal, adjacent to the light rail station.

There is a picture. http://www.bwiairport.com/en/service/whats-new The PDF map is at http://www.bwiairport.com/files/TMG_March2010a.pdf and it is shown on the lower terminal map.

“This is on the bottom floor which means to access it prior to a flight, you have to find the elevator going down towards baggage claim. Last time I was there (the morning we flew out for Seoul), it wasn’t built yet and I actually had to cross 6+ lanes of traffic on foot at 4:30-5AM to find an acceptable place for Scooter to go (and by acceptable, I was looking for anyplace we wouldn’t get run over and wasn’t on the building).” — personal observation of community member LolaMarigolda

“BWI is also the place where you have to watch out for the dog aggressive K-9s. The area where you exit the security checkpoint for D terminal is at an angle with the dog generally being hid behind a tall desk on the corner.” — personal observation of community member LolaMarigolda

“The E concourse where the dog relief station is located is a LONG way from anything else. It’s the international terminal. So unless you’re flying international, you’re going to walk all the way across the airport to get there. It took me about 10 minutes to walk there from the security checkpoint. So round-trip, you’re looking at about 30 minutes from any of the domestic concourses. I was also there before they built this (although they informed me that it was there…), and did the scuttle across 6 lanes of traffic to the only appropriate spot to relieve my dog.” — personal observation of community member cowlypso


Kansas City International (MCI)

“Rest areas for service dogs are at each end of each terminal in grassy areas adjacent to pedestrian ramps. They are marked with instructional signs and include special waste receptacles and biodegradable bags.”

http://www.flykci.com/AirportService/SpecialTravelerServices/Index.htm

Here’s a map, but the relief areas are not marked on it. http://www.flykci.com/AirportService/29/Index.htm Each of the three terminals is 2,225 feet long (just over 1/3 of a mile), so the longest you’d have to walk is 1,200 feet to reach a relief area.

“MCI airport is easy to navigate. There are three circular terminals. The last time I flew, there were no designated relief areas so I toileted my service dog in wood chips on a median between parking and the entrance. It’s not far from the entrance to the gate if you follow the signs and unload at the correct entrance for your airline.

“Just off of Bern street there’s an office building with a large parking lot right on the airport lake. I like to park at the end and give my dog a quick stretch after our 2.5 hour car ride to the airport before entering the airport proper. There are trash recepticals and picnic tables as well as a wheel chair accessible trail around the lake.” — personal observation of community member Kirsten


Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

“Lambert-St. Louis International Airport offers two outdoor rest areas for passengers with traveling pets or service animals. Each relief area offers 400 square feet of gated space with park benches, trash cans, plastic mitts for cleanup and even fire hydrants.”

Terminal: 1 Ticketing & Departures Level, outside exit MT-6
Terminal: 2 Bag Claim Level, outside exit ET-15

http://www.flystl.com/flystl/airport-information/services/


Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

-Sky Harbor has three areas for pets to stretch their legs, drink water and take potty breaks (mitts for cleaning up provided). The Pet Patch is located just east of Terminal 2.
-The Paw Pad is located just outside of the west doors of Terminal 3 [PDF].
-The Bone Yard is on the west side of Terminal 4 [PDF] just outside of baggage claim, level 1.
Site includes pdf maps to each relief area and a video clip.
http://www.phxskyharbor.com/customer-service/pet-parks.html

Service Dog and Emotional Support Information direct from the airline.

Airline List


AccessAir 800-307-4984 website
Action Airlines 800-243-8623 website
Air Sunshine 800-327-8900 website
Air Vegas Airlines 800-255-7474 website
Air Wisconsin   website
AirTran Airways 800-247-8726 website
Alaska Airlines 800-252-7522 website
Alaska Seaplane Service 800-478-3360 website
Allegheny Airlines 800-428-4322 website
Allegiant Air 888-594-6937 website
Aloha Airlines 800-367-5250 website
America West 800-235-9292 website
American Airlines 800-433-7300 website
Arctic Circle Air Service 907-243-1380 website
Arizona Express Airlines 866-435-9872 website
ATA Airlines 800-435-9282 website
Atkin Air 800-924-2471 website
Atlantic Airlines 800-879-0000 website
Atlantic Coast Airlines   website
Atlantic Southeast Airlines 800-282-3424 website
Bering Air 800-478-5422 website
Big Sky Airlines 800-237-7788 website
Boston-Maine Airways 800-359-7262 website
Cape Air 800-352-0714 website
Cape Smythe Air   website
Chalk’s Ocean Airways 800-424-2557 website
Champion Air 800-387-6951 website
Chautauqua Airlines   website
Chicago Express Airlines 800-435-9282 website
Colgan Air 800-428-4322 website
Comair 800-221-1212 website
CommutAir 800-525-0280 website
Continental Airlines 800-523-3273 website
Corporate Airlines 800-555-6565 website
Delta Air Lines 800-221-1212 website
Era Aviation 800-866-8394 website
ExpressJet 800-523-3273 website
Florida Coastal Airlines 888-435-9322 website
Frontier Airlines 800-432-1359 website
Frontier Flying Service 800-478-6779 website
Grand Canyon Airlines 866-235-9422 website
Great Lakes Airlines 800-554-5111 website
Great Plains Airlines 866-929-8646 website
Gulfstream Airlines 800-525-0280 website
Hawaiian Airlines 800-367-5320 website
Horizon Air 800-547-9308 website
Independence AIr 800-359-3594 website
Indigo 877-446-3446 website
Island Air 800-323-3345 website
JetBlue Airways 800-538-2583 website
Kenmore Air 800-543-9595 website
Mesa Airlines 800-637-2247 website
Mesaba Airlines 800-225-2525 website
Miami Air 305-876-3600 website
Midwest Airlines 800-452-2022 website
Nantucket Airlines 800-635-8787 website
Northwest Airlines 800-225-2525 website
Omni Air International 877-718-8901 website
Pace Airlines 877-722-3247 website
Pacific Wings 888-575-4546 website
Pan Am 800-359-7262 website
Papillon Airways 800-528-2418 website
Paradise Air 305-743-4222 website
Pen Air 800-448-4226 website
Piedmont Airlines 800-428-4322 website
Pinnacle Airlines 800-225-2525 website
Promech Air 800-860-3845 website
Rio Grande Air 877-435-9742 website
Ryan International 800-727-0457 website
Scenic Airlines 800-634-6801 website
Seaborne Airlines 888-359-8687 website
Shuttle America 800-428-4322 website
SkyWest Airlines   website
Southeast Airlines 800-359-7325 website
Southwest Airlines 800-435-9792 website
Spirit Airlines 800-772-7117 website
Sun Country Airlines 800-359-6786 website
Sunworld Int’l Airlines   website
Taquan Air 800-770-8800 website
Ted 800-225-5833 website
Trans North Aviation 800-451-6442 website
Trans States Airlines   website
TransMeridian Airlines   website
United Airlines 800-864-8331 website
US Airways 800-428-4322 website
USA3000 Airlines 877-872-3000 website
Virgin America   website
Warbelows Air Ventures 800-478-0812 website
Ward Air 800-478-9150 website
West Isle Airlines 800-874-4434 website
Wings of Alaska 907-789-0790 website
World Airways 800-967-5310 website

Service Dog Travel Related Issues?

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation is calling on all disability organizations to promote public education about its Toll Free Hotline for air travelers with disabilities through their organization newsletters, listserves and sponsored events.

The Toll Free Hotline for disabled air travelers has been in operation since August 2002 and is available for callers from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time, seven days a week. It is currently not being fully utilized. The Hotline serves two main purposes: (1) education and (2) assistance in resolving disability-related air travel problems.

Many disabled air travelers are not aware of their rights and the Hotline, in part, exists as an educational service to inform air travelers with disabilities about their rights under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Department’s implementing regulations 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382).

Hotline operators are well versed in the ACAA and Part 382 and can provide callers with on the spot general information about the rights of air travelers with disabilities. The Hotline operators also respond to requests for printed consumer information about air travel rights of the disabled.

The Hotline can also assist air travelers with disabilities in resolving real time or upcoming issues with air carriers. The purpose of “real-time” assistance is to facilitate airline compliance with DOT’s rules by suggesting to the passenger and the airline involved alternative customer-service solutions to the problem. The airline remains responsible for deciding what action will be taken to resolve the issue in accordance with the ACAA and Part 382. Generally, if a caller has a real time problem or an upcoming issue with an air carrier, a Hotline Duty Officer will contact that air carrier and attempt to resolve the issue. For example, there have been a number of incidents in which Hotline Duty Officers have contacted air carriers and convinced them to accept service animals and electric wheelchairs on board flights, to stow folding wheelchairs in the cabin, and to provide requested wheelchair assistance.

Air travelers who want information about the rights of persons with disabilities in air travel or who experience disability-related air travel service problems may call the Hotline to obtain assistance at:

1-800-778-4838
(voice) or
1-800-455-9880
(TTY).

Air travelers who want DOT to investigate a complaint about a disability-related issue still must submit their complaint in writing via e-mail at airconsumer@ost.dot.gov or postal mail to: Aviation Consumer Protection Division U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) May 2008

Excerpt from the FINAL RULE on Air Carriers Access Act

Summary from Joan Froling, IAADP Chairperson:

The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on May 7th It runs over 300 pages in length. It was issued by the DOT after it considered all the Public Comments it received on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in 2004. The DOT says it will henceforth refer to that NPRM as the “Foreign Carriers NPRM” when discussing it. That is because a major goal was to clarify when foreign air carriers are required to follow the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulations and guidance. The DOT had an agenda with regard to their accommodation of disabled persons and service animals. Generally these regulations only come into play if one leg of the flight starts or ends in the USA.. The DOT noted this Final Rule also responds to public comments on a second NPRM initiative on accommodating passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, it encompasses a third NPRM regarding passengers who travel with oxygen and/or portable respirators.

Part One of the Preamble to the Final Rule is the DOT’s Response To Comments. I have pulled out the relevant excerpts in Part One that were specific to Service Animals.

The next part of the Preamble is a ”Section by Section discussion” of the Final Rule. The subject of service animals came up in some sections outside the scope of what was covered in the DOT’s 2003 Guidance document on service animals. For your reading convenience, I have included all the discussions on service animals from Part Two in this Excerpt. Collectively Part One and Part Two is more than 150 pages in length.

Part Three is what amounts to a new Guidance document due to certain sections with revised language. This will now replace the DOT’s controversial May 2003 guidance document, something they referred to as “Appendix A” in the Foreign Carriers NPRM of 2004.

Part Four discusses the Regulatory Analyses the Final Rule went through, including a cost benefit analysis. Part Five is the meat of the Final Rule itself, where you can look up the actual language utilized on topics such as airport relief areas for service animals, if you wish. The preamble seems to indicate that there won’t be any surprises in the Final Rule, outside of those it has announced in the Preamble, in its “Response to Comments” and in its “Section by Section” discussion, all of which is contained in this Excerpt I prepared.

Service Animal Issues:

The subject that attracted the most comments on the Foreign Carriers NPRM over 1100 of the 1290 received was service animals. Interestingly, most of these comments did not pertain to anything in the Foreign Carriers PRM’s proposed regulatory text, but rather to a guidance document concerning transportation of service animals that the Department had issued in May 2003. As an informational matter, this existing guidance document was published as an appendix to the November 2004 NPRM. The paragraph in the document that was the focus of most of the comments was the following:

If the service animal does not fit in the assigned location, you should relocate the passenger and the service animal to some other place in the cabin in the same class of service where the animal will fit under the seat in front of the passenger and not create an obstruction, such as the bulkhead. If no single seat in the cabin will accommodate the animal and passenger without causing an obstruction, you may offer the option of purchasing a second seat, traveling on a later flight or having the service animal travel in the cargo hold. As indicated above, airlines may not charge passengers with disabilities for services required by part 382, including transporting their oversized service animals in the cargo compartment. (69 FR 64393)

During the one and a half years preceding the issuance of the Foreign Carriers NPRM during which the guidance had been available, and during the over three years since the Foreign Carriers NPRM has been issued, there have been few if any instances brought to the attention of the Department in which service animals have been denied transportation, separated from their owners, or charged for an extra seat. Despite this apparent lack of problems in the real world of air travel, hundreds of comments expressed the fear that Department was proposing new regulations that would unfairly limit the travel opportunities of service animal users. Many of these comments suggested that there were no circumstances under which a service animal should be denied transportation in the cabin. If there were space limitations concerning accommodating larger animals, some commenters said, airlines should reconfigure their cabins to provide some larger spaces.

The Department believes that the fears of these commenters are largely unfounded. Nevertheless, in order to avoid future misunderstanding, the Department is republishing its service animal guidance later in the preamble to this final rule and has revised the language in this guidance document concerning carriage of larger, but otherwise acceptable, service animals to read as follows:

The only situation in which the rule contemplates that a service animal would not be permitted to accompany its user at his or her seat is where the animal blocks a space that, per FAA or applicable foreign government safety regulations, must remain unobstructed (e.g., an aisle, access to an emergency exit) AND the passenger and animal cannot be moved to another location where such a blockage does not occur. In such a situation, the carrier should first talk with other passengers to find a seat location where the service animal and its user can be agreeably accommodated (e.g., by finding a passenger who is willing to share foot space with the animal). The fact that a service animal may need to use a reasonable portion of an adjacent seat’s foot space—that does not deny another passenger effective use of the space for his or her feet—is not, however, an adequate reason for the carrier to refuse to permit the animal to accompany its user at his or her seat. Only if no other alternative is available should the carrier discuss less desirable options concerning the transportation of the service animal with the passenger traveling with the animal, such as traveling on a later flight with more room or carrying the animal in the cargo compartment. As indicated above, airlines may not charge passengers with disabilities for services required by Part 382, including transporting their oversized service animals in the cargo compartment.

In modifying this paragraph in the guidance, we deleted the phrase concerning the potential purchase of a second seat, since there are probably no circumstances under which this would happen. If a flight is totally filled, there would not be any seat available to buy. If the flight had even one middle seat unoccupied, someone with a service animal could be seated next to the vacant seat, and it is likely that even a large animal could use some of the floor space of the vacant seat, making any further purchase unnecessary. Of course, service animals generally sit on the floor, so it is unlikely that a service animal would ever actually occupy a separate seat.

We have not taken other steps recommended by some commenters, such as mandating that airlines accommodate coach passengers with service animals in first class or reconfigure cabins. We would regard such mandates as potentially requiring a fundamental alteration of airlines’ operations, and consequently outside the scope of the statutory authority for this rule.

A second category of comments concerned the relationship of service animal requirements to Part 382’s coverage of foreign carriers. Many foreign carriers and their organizations stated that foreign carriers often had policies more restrictive than those of the ACAA (e.g., only dogs, or only dogs certified by recognized training schools or associations, are accommodated; some carriers don’t allow any animals in the cabin; service animals may be seated only in certain designated locations; there are number limits or advance notice requirements for service animals in the cabin). These commenters generally wished to maintain such restrictions.

As a general matter, foreign carrier policies with respect to service animals, like other foreign carrier policies, are subject to the conflict of laws waiver and equivalent alternative provisions of the final rule. Otherwise, modifying carrier policies to accommodate U.S. civil rights requirements is something foreign carriers must accept as part of their obligation to comply with U.S. law when flying to and from the U.S.

In addition to wishing to maintain existing policies restricting the access of service animals, some commenters mentioned that some countries have quarantine rules that severely delay or limit the entrance of certain animals, or effectively prohibit, certain animals – even service animals – from entering those countries. The Department agrees that, if Country S prohibits a certain kind of animal from entering, an airline serving an airport in Country S could apply for a conflict of laws waiver to be relieved of carrying such an animal to that country. Such a waiver would be country-specific; however. If the same airline is asked to carry the same animal to Country R, which does not have such a prohibition, the carrier would have to transport the creature. The final rule also requires carriers to promptly take all steps necessary to comply with such foreign regulations as are necessary to legally transport service animals from the U.S. into foreign airports (e.g., the United Kingdom’s Pet Travel Scheme).

Commenters mentioned that some persons may have religious or cultural objections to traveling in proximity to certain service animals. Other commenters raised the issue of passengers who may have allergies to certain animals. It has long been a principle of the Department’s ACAA and other disability regulations that it is improper for a transportation provider to deny or restrict service to a passenger with a disability because doing so may offend or annoy other persons (see for instance current 14 CFR 382.31(b) and section 382.19(b) of the final rule). This principle is again articulated in the final’s rule service animal section. Only if a safety problem amounting to a direct threat can be shown is restricting access required by Part 382 justifiable.

This principle applies to concerns about passengers who have allergies not rising to the level of a disability or cultural or personal objections to being on the same aircraft with a certain service animal. Their discomfort must yield to the nondiscrimination mandate of the ACAA. As stated in the Department’s service animal guidance, to which we have added language concerning the handling of allergy issues, carriers should do their best to accommodate other passengers’ concerns by steps like seating passengers with service animals and passengers who are uncomfortable with service animals away from one other. We note that, on flights operated by foreign carriers that are not subject to these rules, the carriers may, of course, apply their own policies with respect to carriage of service animals.

A number of commenters objected to the requirement that carriers accept animals as service animals on the basis of the “credible verbal assurances” of passengers, especially in the absence of credentials from a training school that the carrier recognizes. Under U.S. law (the ADA as well as the ACAA), it is generally not permissible to insist on written credentials for an animal as a condition for treating it as a service animal. It would be inconsistent with the ACAA to permit a foreign carrier, for example, to deny passage to a U.S. resident’s service animal because the animal had not been certified by an organization that the foreign carrier recognized. When flying to or from the United States, foreign carriers are subject to requirements of U.S. nondiscrimination law, though carriers may avail themselves of the conflict of laws waiver and equivalent alternative provisions of this Part. We acknowledge that some foreign carriers may be unused to making the kinds of judgment calls concerning the credibility of a passenger’s verbal assurances that the Department’s service animal guidance describes, and which U.S. carriers have made for over 17 years. However, the comments do not provide any persuasive evidence that foreign carriers are incapable of doing so or that making such judgment calls will in any important way interfere with the operation of their flights.

A number of carriers commented that making provision for service animals on long (e.g., trans-oceanic) flights was especially problematic. The main concern focused on the animals’ eating, drinking, and elimination functions. They pointed out that health and sanitation issues could arise. Some service animal users said that their animals were well trained to avoid creating sanitation problems on even a very long flight. The Department agrees that, on very long flights, carriers have a legitimate concern about sanitation issues that could arise if animals relieve themselves in the cabin. Consequently, the Department has added a provision to the regulatory text pertaining to a flight segment scheduled to take eight hours or more. For such a segment, the carrier may, if it chooses, require the passenger using the animal to provide documentation that the animal will not need to relieve itself on the flight or that the animal can do so in a way that does not create a health or sanitation issue. We agree with commenters that carriers should not have any responsibility for assisting with the eating, drinking, or elimination functions of service animals on board an aircraft.

Another important issue that a number of commenters raised concerned “emotional support animals.” Unlike other service animals, emotional support animals are often not trained to perform a specific active function, such as pathfinding, picking up objects, carrying things, providing additional stability, responding to sounds, etc. This has led some service animal advocacy groups to question their status as service animals and has led to concerns by carriers that permitting emotional support animals to travel in the cabin would open the door to abuse by passengers wanting to travel with their pets.

The Department believes that there can be some circumstances in which a passenger may legitimately travel with an emotional support animal. However, we have added safeguards to reduce the likelihood of abuse. The final rule limits use of emotional support animals to persons with a diagnosed mental or emotional disorder, and the rule permits carriers to insist on recent documentation from a licensed mental health professional to support the passenger’s desire to travel with such an animal. In order to permit the assessment of the passenger’s documentation, the rule permits carriers to require 48 hours’ advance notice of a passenger’s wish to travel with an emotional support animal. Of course, like any service animal that a passenger wishes to bring into the cabin, an emotional support animal must be trained to behave properly in a public setting.

We have also noted a concern that there could be differences, in the airport terminal context, between the ACAA regulations that apply to airlines, and their facilities and services, contrasted with public accommodations like restaurants and stores. The DOJ Title III rules for places of public accommodation govern concession facilities of this kind. As a consequence, a concession could, without violating DOJ rules, deny entry to a properly documented emotional support animal that an airline, under the ACAA, would have to accept. On the other hand, nothing in the DOJ rules would prevent a concession from accepting a properly documented emotional support animal. We urge all parties at airports to be aware that their services and facilities are intended to serve all passengers. Airlines, airport operators, and concessionaires should work together to ensure that all persons who are able to use the airport to access the air transportation system are able equally to use all services and facilities provided to the general public.

Because they make for colorful stories, accounts of unusual service animals have received publicity wholly disproportionate to their frequency or importance. Some (e.g., tales of service snakes, which grow larger with each retelling) have become the stuff of urban legends. A number of commenters nevertheless expressed concern about having to accommodate unusual service animals. To allay these concerns, the Department has added language to the final rule specifying that carriers need never permit certain creatures (e.g., rodents or reptiles) to travel as service animals. For others (e.g., miniature horses, pot-bellied pigs, monkeys), a U.S. carrier could make a judgment call about whether any factors (e.g., size and weight of the animal, any direct threat to the health and safety of others, significant disruption of cabin service) would preclude carrying the animal. Absent such factors, the carrier would have to allow the animal to accompany its owner on the flight. Any denial of transportation to a service animal would have to be explained, in writing, to the passenger within 10 days.

While it is possible that foreign air carriers may have safety-related reasons for objecting to service animals other than dogs, even ones that have been successfully accommodated on U.S. carriers, these reasons were generally not articulated in their comments to the docket. Nevertheless, to give foreign carriers a further opportunity to raise any safety-related objections specific to foreign airlines to carrying these animals, the final rule does not apply the requirement to carry service animals other than dogs to foreign airlines. However, foreign carriers could not, absent a conflict of laws waiver, impose certification or documentation requirements for dogs beyond those permitted to U.S. carriers. We intend to seek further comment on this subject in the forthcoming SNPRM.

A few comments suggested adding, to the section prohibiting carriers from requiring passengers to sign waivers or releases of liability, language specifically applying this prohibition to the loss, injury, or death of service animals. We believe that this is a sensible suggestion, and we have added the language.

ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION: It should be emphasized that the fact that a carrier policy or foreign regulation addresses the same subject as a provision of Part 382 does not mean the carrier policy or foreign regulation is an equivalent alternative. For example, both Part 382 and various carrier policies address the transportation of service animals. A policy or regulation that was more restrictive than Part 382 would not be viewed as an equivalent alternative, since it provided less, rather than substantially equivalent, accessibility for passengers who use service animals.

NOTE: this is the end of PART ONE, “Response to Comments,” in the Preamble to the Final Rule

***********************************************************************

PART TWO of the Preamble to the Final Rule

SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

The purpose of this portion of the preamble is to describe each of the sections of the final rule. The focus of the descriptions is on new or changed material.

First Excerpt: Requirement for Emotional Support & Psychiatric Service Animals

We also note that, under section 382.117(e), airlines can require passengers traveling with emotional support or psychiatric service animals to provide certain documentation. This information is not a medical certificate in the sense articulated in section 382.23, but airlines are entitled to obtain this documentation as a condition of permitting the emotional support or psychiatric service animal to travel in the cabin with the passenger.

Second Excerpt: Advance Notice may be Required!

There are a few new situations in which the rule permits carriers to require advance notice. These include transportation of an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, transportation of any service animal on a flight scheduled to take eight hours or more, and accommodation of an individual who has both severe vision and hearing impairments.

Third Excerpt: Service Animal Relief Areas

Inter-terminal and intra-terminal transportation owned, leased, or controlled by a carrier at a U.S. airport must meet DOT ADA rules. Since DOT has already incorporated the new version of ADAAG into its regulations, the new ADAAG’s provision will apply to any features covered by the DOT rules. One new requirement at U.S. airports is to provide, in cooperation with the airport operator, animal relief areas for service animals that accompany passengers who are departing, arriving, or connecting at the facility.

Fourth Excerpt: Escort to Relief Area – documentation required?

Another addition, applicable only in U.S. airports, is that a carrier would, on request, and in cooperation with the airport operator, have to escort a passenger to a service animal relief area. Finally, carriers would have to assist passengers with disabilities in transporting their carry-on or gate-checked luggage to or from the gate. This obligation would arise only if the passenger could make credible verbal assurances of his or her inability to carry the item due to his or her disability. If the passenger’s verbal assurances to the carrier are not credible, the carrier may require the passenger to produce documentation as a condition of providing the service. All the services mentioned in this paragraph would be provided only on request of a passenger with a disability.

At foreign airports, as mentioned in connection with the terminal accessibility section, airport operators may be the basic providers of terminal services. The carrier may rely on these services, but would have to supplement them if they did not fully comply with the provisions of this Part.

Fifth Excerpt: Summary of Changes re: Service Animals, in the Final Rule

382.117 Must carriers permit passengers with a disability to travel with service animals?

This section has been made more detailed than the current Rule’s service animal provision, in response to the comments discussed earlier in the preamble. Appendix A provides further guidance to carriers and passengers conceming service animals.

The general rule is that service animals must be allowed to accompany their users. Carriers cannot deny transportation to a service animal because its presence may offend or annoy other passengers (e.g., by causing an allergic reaction that does not rise to the level of a disability or by offending someone’s cultural or personal preferences). When another passenger is uncomfortable with proximity to a service animal, the carrier should do its best to satisfy all passengers by offering the uncomfortable passenger the opportunity to sit elsewhere. Forcing the passenger with the service animal to move to another seat to make another passenger more comfortable, let alone denying transportation in the cabin to the service animal or its user, is not an option.

If a flight segment is scheduled to take eight hours or more, the carrier may require documentation that the service animal will not need to relieve itself or can do so in a way that will not create a health or sanitation issue on the flight.

The only acceptable reason for not allowing a service animal to accompany its user at the user’s seat is that the animal will block a space that, according to FAA or equivalent foreign safety regulations, must remain unobstmcted. If, for this reason, the animal caimot be accommodated at the user’s seat, the carrier must allow the passenger and the animal to sit elsewhere on the aircraft, if an appropriate place exists.

There are new, more detailed procedures for the carriage of emotional support and psychiatric service animals. The carrier may require the passenger to provide current documentation from a mental health professional caring for the passenger that the passenger has a specific, recognized mental or emotional disability and that the passenger needs to be accompanied by the specific emotional support or psychiatric service animal in question, either on the flight or at the passenger’s destination.

Certain unusual service animals need never be accommodated (e.g., rodents, snakes). Other uncommonly used animals (e.g., miniature horses, monkeys) can travel as service animals on U.S. carriers, but the carrier can decide to exclude a particular animal on a case-by-case basis if it is too large or heavy to be accommodated on a given flight. Foreign carriers are not required to carry service animals other than dogs. We will seek fiirther comment in the SNPRM on whether there are safety-related reasons for excluding animals that may be specific to foreign carriers.

Near the end of this preamble, the Department has included a revised guidance document containing further discussion of service animal matters. With the exception of changes discussed earlier in the preamble, this guidance document incorporates the guidance the Department issued on service animal matters in May 2003. As guidance, it does not have independent mandatory effect, but rather describes how the Department understands the requirements of section 382.117. It also makes suggestions and recommendations concerning how carriers can best accommodate service animals and their users.

The guidance document notes that carriers can properly apply the same policies to “psychiatric service animals” as they do for emotional support animals. This is because carriers and the Department have encountered instances of attempted abuse of service animal transportation policies by persons traveling with animals in both categories. Should the Department encounter a pattern of abuse concerning service animals in other categories, we can consider additional safeguards with respect to those categories as well.

We would call also readers’ attention to recent DOT guidance concerning the transportation of service animals into the United Kingdom. “Guidance Concerning the Carriage of Services Animals in Air Transportation Into the United Kingdom” (February 26, 2007) discusses the transportation of service dogs and cats into the U.K. via U.S. and foreign carriers. To transport service animals into the U.K., carriers must participate in the U.K. Pet Travel Scheme. A supplementary DOT guidance document, “Carriage of Service Animals in Air Transportation Into the United Kingdom and Foreign Health Documentation Requirements for Service Animals in Air Transportation” (July 17, 2007), provides further information for carriers and the public concerning carriage of, and documentation needed for, carriage of service animals into countries other than the U.K. These documents may be found on the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division website.

***********************************************************************************

New “Modified” Guidance Document in the Final Rule

[ THIS REPLACES THE DOT’S 2003 GUIDANCE DOCUMENT ]

GUIDANCE CONCERNING SERVICE ANIMALS

Introduction

In 1990, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) promulgated the official regulations implementing the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Those mles are entitled Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel (14 CFR Part 382). Since then the number of people with disabilities traveling by air has grown steadily. This growth has increased the demand for air transportation accessible to all people with disabilities and the importance of understanding DOT’s regulations and how to apply them. This document expands on an earlier DOT guidance document published in 1996, which was based on an earlier Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) service animal guide issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in July 1996. The purpose of this document is to aid airline employees and people with disabilities in understanding and applying the ACAA and the provisions of Part 382 with respect to service animals in determining:

(1) whether an animal is a service animal and its user a qualified individual with a disability;

(2) how to accommodate a qualified person with a disability with a service animal in the aircraft cabin; and ^ 61 FR 56409, 56420 (Nov. 1, 1996).

(3) when a service animal legally can be refused carriage in the cabin. This guidance will also be used by Department of Transportation staff in reviewing the implementation of §382.117 of this Part by carriers.

Background

The 1996 DOT guidance document defines a service animal as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If the animal meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified by a state or local government.” This document refines DOT’s previous definition of service animal”* by making it clear that animals that assist persons with disabilities by providing emotional support qualify as service animals and ensuring that, in situations concerning emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals, the authority of airline personnel to require documentation of the individual’s disability and the medical necessity of the passenger traveling with the animal is understood.

Today, both the public and people with disabilities use many different terms to identify animals that can meet the legal definition of “service animal.” These range from umbrella terms such as “assistance animal” to specific labels such as “hearing,” “signal,” “seizure alert,” “psychiatric service,” “emotional support” animal, etc. that describe how the animal assists a person with a disability.

When Part 382 was first promulgated, most service animals were guide or hearing dogs. Since then, a wider variety of animal (e.g., cats, monkeys, etc.) have been individually trained to assist people with disabilities. Service animals also perform a [See Glossary for definition of this and other terms] much wider variety of functions than ever before (e.g., alerting a person with epilepsy of imminent seizure onset, pulling a wheelchair, assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance). These developments can make it difficult for airline employees to distinguish service animals from pets, especially when a passenger does not appear to be disabled, or the animal has no obvious indicators that it is a service animal. Passengers may claim that their animals are service animals at times to get around airline policies that restrict the carriage of pets. Clear guidelines are needed to assist airline personnel and people with disabilities in knowing what to expect and what to do when these assessments are made.

Since airlines also are obliged to provide all accommodations in accordance with FAA safety regulations, educated consumers help assure that airlines provide accommodations consistent with the carriers’ safety duties and responsibilities. Educated consumers also assist the airline in providing them the services they want, including accommodations, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

General Requirements of Part 382

In a nutshell, the main requirements of Part 382 regarding service animals are:

> Carriers shall permit dogs and other service animals used by persons with disabilities to accompany the persons on a flight. See §382.117(a).

> Carriers shall accept as evidence that an animal is a service animal identifiers such as identification cards, other written documentation, presence of harnesses, tags or the credible verbal assurances of a qualified individual with a disability using the animal.

> Carriers shall permit a service animal to accompany a qualified individual with a disability in any seat in which the person sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed in order to facilitate an emergency evacuation or to comply with FAA regulations.

> If a service animal cannot be accommodated at the seat location of the qualified individual with a disability whom the animal is accompanying, the carrier shall offer the passenger the opportunity to move with the animal to a seat location in the same class of service, if present on the aircraft, where the animal can be accommodated, as an alternative to requiring that the animal travel in the cargo hold (see §382.117(c)).

> Carriers shall not impose charges for providing facilities, equipment, or services that are required by this Part to be provided to qualified individuals with a disability (see §382.31).

Two Steps for Airline Personnel

To determine whether an animal is a service animal and should be allowed to accompany its user in the cabin, airline personnel should:

1. Establish whether the animal is a pet or a service animal, and whether the passenger is a qualified individual with a disability; and then

2. Determine if the service animal presents either a. a “direct threat to the health or safety of others,” or b. a significant threat of disruption to the airline service in the cabin (i.e., a “fundamental alteration” to passenger service). See §382.19(c).

Service Animals

How do I know it’s a service animal and not a pet?

Remember: In most situations the key is TRAINING. Generally, a service animal is individually trained to perform functions to assist the passenger who is a qualified individual with a disability. In a few extremely limited situations, an animal such as a seizure alert animal may be capable of performing functions to assist a qualified person with a disability without individualized training. Also, an animal used for emotional support need not have specific training for that function. Similar to an animal that has been individually trained, the definition of a service animal includes: an animal that has been shown to have the innate ability to assist a person with a disability; or an emotional support animal.

These five steps can help one determine whether an animal is a service animal or a pet:

1. Obtain credible verbal assurances: Ask the passenger: “Is this your pet?” If the passenger responds that the animal is a service animal and not a pet, but uncertainty remains about the animal, appropriate follow-up questions would include:

> “What tasks or functions does your animal perform for you?” or

> “What has it been trained to do for you?”

> “Would you describe how the animal performs this task (or function) for you?”

As noted earlier, functions include, but are not limited to:
A. helping blind or visually impaired people to safely negotiate their surroundings;
B. alerting deaf and hard-of-hearing persons to sounds;
C. helping people with mobility impairments to open and close doors, retrieve objects, transfer from one seat to another, maintain balance; or
D. alert or respond to a disability-related need or emergency (e.g., seizure, extreme social anxiety or panic attack).

Note that to be a service animal that can properly travel in the cabin, the animal need not necessarily perform a function for the passenger during the flight. For example, some dogs are trained to help pull a passenger’s wheelchair or carry items that the passenger cannot readily carry while using his or her wheelchair. It would not be appropriate to deny transportation in the cabin to such a dog.

If a passenger cannot provide credible assurances that an animal has been individually trained or is able to perform some task or function to assist the passenger with his or her disability, the animal might not be a service animal. In this case, the airline personnel may require documentation (see Documentation below).

1. There may be cases in which a passenger with a disability has personally trained an animal to perform a specific function (e.g., seizure alert). Such an animal may not have been trained through a formal training program (e.g., a “school” for service animals). If the passenger can provide a reasonable explanation of how the animal was trained or how it performs the function for which it is being used, this can constitute a “credible verbal assurance” that the animal has been trained to perform a function for the passenger.

2. Look for physical indicators on the animal: Some service animals wear harnesses, vests, capes or backpacks. Markings on these items or on the animal’s tags may identify it as a service animal. It should be noted, however, that the absence of such equipment does not necessarily mean the animal is not a service animal. Similarly, the presence of a harness or vest on a pet for which the passenger cannot provide such credible verbal assurance may not be sufficient evidence that the animal is, in fact, a legitimate service animal.

3. Request documentation for service animals other than emotional support or psychiatric service animals: The law allows airline personnel to ask for documentation as a means of verifying that the animal is a service animal, but DOT rules tell carriers not to require documentation as a condition for permitting an individual to travel with his or her service animal in the cabin unless a passenger’s verbal assurance is not credible. In that case, the airline may require documentation as a condition for allowing the animal to travel in the cabin. This should be an infrequent situation. The purpose of documentation is to substantiate the passenger’s disability-related need for the animal’s accompaniment, which the airline may require as a condition to permit the animal to travel in the cabin. Examples of documentation include a letter from a licensed professional treating the passenger’s condition (e.g., physician, mental health professional, vocational case manager, etc.)

4. Require documentation for emotional support and psychiatric service animals: With respect to an animal used for emotional support (which need not have specific training for that function but must be trained to behave appropriately in a public setting), airline personnel may require current documentation (i.e., not more than one year old) on letterhead from a licensed mental health professional stating (1) that the passenger has a mental health-related disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV); (2) that having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment; (3) that the individual providing the assessment of the passenger is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his or her professional care; and (4) the date and type of the mental health professional’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued. Airline personnel may require this documentation as a condition of permitting the animal to accompany the passenger in the cabin. The purpose of this provision is to prevent abuse by passengers that do not have a medical need for an emotional support animal and to ensure that passengers who have a legitimate need for emotional support animals are permitted to travel with their service animals on the aircraft. Airlines are not permitted to require the documentation to specify the type of mental health disability, e.g., panic attacks.

There is a separate category of service animals generally known as “psychiatric service animals.” These animals may be trained by their owners, sometimes with the assistance of a professional trainer, to perform tasks such as fetching medications, reminding the user to take medications, helping people with balance problems caused by medications or an underlying condition, bringing a phone to the user in an emergency or activating a specially equipped emergency phone, or acting as a buffer against other people crowding too close). As with emotional support animals, it is possible for this category of animals to be a source of abuse by persons attempting to circumvent carrier rules concerning transportation of pets. Consequently, it is appropriate for airlines to apply the same advance notice and documentation requirements to psychiatric service animals as they do to emotional support animals.

5. Observe behavior of animals: Service animals are trained to behave properly in public settings. For example, a properly trained guide dog will remain at its owner’s feet. It does not run freely around an aircraft or an airport gate area, bark or growl repeatedly at other persons on the aircraft, bite or jump on people, or urinate or defecate in the cabin or gate area. An animal that engages in such disruptive behavior shows that it has not been successfully trained to function as a service animal in public settings. Therefore, airlines are not required to treat it as a service animal, even if the animal performs an assistive function for a passenger with a disability or is necessary for a passenger’s emotional well-being.

What about service animals in training?

Part 382 requires airlines to allow service animals to accompany their handlers in the cabin of the aircraft, but airlines are not required otherwise to carry animals of any kind either in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Airlines are free to adopt any policy they choose regarding the carriage of pets and other animals (e.g., search and rescue dogs) provided that they comply with other applicable requirements (e.g., the Animal Welfare Act). Although “service animals in training” are not pets, the ACAA does not include them, because “in training” status indicates that they do not yet meet the legal definition of service animal. However, like pet policies, airline policies regarding service animals in training vary. Some airlines permit qualified trainers to bring service animals in training aboard an aircraft for training purposes. Trainers of service animals should consult with airlines, and become familiar with their policies.

Service animal users typically refer to the person who accompanies the animal as the “handler.”

What about a service animal that is not accompanying a qualified individual with a disability?

When a service animal is not accompanying a passenger with a disability, the airline’s general policies on the carriage of animals usually apply. Airline personnel should know their company’s policies on pets, service animals in training, and the carriage of animals generally. Individuals planning to travel with a service animal other than their own should inquire about the applicable policies in advance.

Qualified Individuals with Disabilities

How do I know if a passenger is a qualified individual with a disability who is entitled to bring a service animal in the cabin of the aircraft if the disability is not readily apparent?

1. Ask the passenger about his or her disability as it relates to the need for a service animal. Once the passenger identifies the animal as a service animal, you may ask, “How does your animal assist you with your disability?” Avoid the question “What is your disability?” as this implies you are asking for a medical label or the cause of the disability, which is intrusive and inconsistent with the intent of the ACAA. Remember, Part 382 is intended to facilitate travel by people with disabilities by requiring airlines to accommodate them on an individual basis. * See Glossary.

2. Ask the passenger whether he or she has documentation as a means of verifying the medical necessity of the passenger traveling with the animal. Keep in mind that you can ask but cannot require documentation as proof of service animal status UNLESS (1) a passenger’s verbal assurance is not credible and the airline personnel cannot in good faith determine whether the animal is a service animal without documentation, or (2) a passenger indicates that the animal is to be used as an emotional support or psychiatric service animal.

Using the questions and other factors above, you must decide whether it is reasonable to believe that the passenger is a qualified individual with a disability, and the animal is a service animal.

Denying a Service Animal Carriage in the Cabin

What do I do if I believe that carriage of the animal in the cabin of the aircraft would inconvenience non-disabled passengers?

Part 382 requires airlines to permit qualified individuals with a disability to be accompanied by their service animals in the cabin, as long as the animals do not I) pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others (e.g., animal displays threatening behaviors by growling, snarling, lunging at, or attempting to bite other persons on the aircraft) or 2) cause a significant dismption in cabin service (i.e. a “fundamental alteration” to passenger service). Offense or inconvenience to other passengers (e.g., a cultural or personal discomfort with being in proximity to certain kinds of animals, allergies that do not rise to the level of a disability, reasonable limitations on foot space) is not sufficient grounds to deny a service animal carriage in the cabin. However, carriers should try to accommodate the wishes of other passengers in this situation, such as by relocating them to a different part of the aircraft. What do I do if a passenger claims that he or she is allergic to someone else’s service animal?

* First, remember that not all allergies rise to the level of a disability. The fact that someone may have a stuffy nose or sneeze when exposed to dog or cat dander does not necessarily mean that the individual has a disability.

* If a passenger expresses discomfort or annoyance because of an allergic reaction to the presence of a service animal nearby, you can offer the uncomfortable passenger the opportunity to change to a seat further away from the animal. Passengers who state they have allergies or other animal aversions should be located as far away from the service animal as practicable. Each individual’s needs should be addressed to the fullest extent possible under the circumstances and in accordance with the requirements of Part 382 and company policy.

* If a passenger provides credible verbal assurances, or medical documentation, that he or she has an allergy to a particular sort of animal that rises to the level of a disability (e.g., produces shock or respiratory distress that could require emergency or significant medical treatment), and there is a service animal of that kind seated nearby, the carrier should try to place as much distance as possible between the service animal and the individual with the allergy. Depending on where the passengers are initially seated, this could involve moving both passengers. For example, if both are seated toward the center of the cabin, one could be moved to the front and the other to the back.

* It is unlikely that the mere presence of an animal in the same cabin would, by itself, even if located at a distance from an allergic passenger, produce a severe allergic reaction rising to the level of a disability. However, if there was strong evidence that this was the case, it could be necessary to rebook one of the passengers on another flight. Since one disability does not trump another, the carrier should consider a disability-neutral means of determining which passenger would have to be rebooked (e.g., which passenger made the earlier reservation). We emphasize that we expect any such situation to be extremely rare, and that carriers should not rebook a passenger absent strong evidence that the mere presence of an animal in the cabin, even in a location distant from the allergic passenger, would produce an allergic reaction rising to the level of a disability.

* There may be situations in which, with respect to a passenger who brings a very serious potential allergy situation to the attention of your personnel, it is appropriate to seek a medical certificate for the passenger.

What do I do if I believe that a passenger’s assertions about having a disability or a service animal are not credible?

1. Ask if the passenger has documentation that satisfies the requirements for determining that the animal is a service animal (see discussion of “Documentation” above).

2. If the passenger has no documents, then explain to the passenger that the animal cannot be carried in the cabin, because it does not meet the criteria for service animals. Explain your airline’s policy on pets (i.e., will or will not accept for carriage in the cabin or cargo hold), and what procedures to follow.

3. If the passenger does not accept your explanation, avoid getting into an argument Ask the passenger to wait while you contact your airline’s complaint resolution official (CRO). Part 382 requires all airlines to have a CRO available at each airport they serve during all hours of operation. The CRO may be made available by telephone. The CRO is a resource for resolving difficulties related to disability accommodation.

4. Consult with the CRO immediately, if possible. The CRO normally has the authority to make the final decision regarding carriage of service animals. In the rare instance that a service animal would raise a concern regarding flight safety, the CRO may consult with the pilot-in-command. If the pilot-in-command makes a decision to restrict the animal from the cabin or the flight for safety reasons, the CRO cannot countermand the pilot’s decision. This does not preclude the Department from taking subsequent enforcement action, however, if it is determined that the pilot’s decision was inconsistent with Part 382.

5. If a CRO makes the final decision not to accept an animal as a service animal, then the CRO must provide a written statement to the passenger within 10 days explaining the reason(s) for that determination. If carrier personnel other than the CRO make the final decision, a written explanation is not required; however, because denying carriage of a legitimate service animal is a potential civil rights violation, it is recommended that carrier personnel explain to the passenger the reason the animal will not be accepted as a service animal. A recommended practice may include sending passengers whose animals are not accepted as service animals a letter within 10 business days explaining the basis for such a decision.

In considering whether a service animal should be excluded from the cabin, keep these things in mind:

1. Certain unusual service animals (e.g., snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders) pose unavoidable safety and/or public health concerns and airlines are not required to transport them. In all other circumstances for U.S. carriers, each situation must be considered individually. Do not make assumptions about how a particular unusual animal is likely to behave based on past experience with other animals. You may inquire, however, about whether a particular animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting. Note that, under the 2008 final rule, foreign carriers are not required to carry animals other than dogs.

2. Before deciding to exclude the animal, you should consider and try available means of mitigating the problem (e.g., muzzling a dog that barks frequently, allowing the passenger a reasonable amount of time under the circumstances to correct the disruptive behavior, offering the passenger a different seat where the animal won’t block the aisle.) If it is determined that the animal should not accompany the disabled passenger in the cabin at this time, offer the passenger alternative accommodations in accordance with Part 382 and company policy (e.g., accept the animal for carriage in the cargo compartment at no cost to the passenger).

What about unusual service animals?

1. As indicated above, certain unusual service animals, (e.g., snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders) pose unavoidable safety and/or public health concerns and airlines are not required to transport them. The release of such an animal in the aircraft cabin could result in a direct threat to the health or safety of passengers and crew members. For these reasons, airlines are not required to transport these types of service animals in the cabin, and carriage in the cargo hold will be in accordance with company policies on the carriage of animals generally.

2. Other unusual animals such as miniature horses, pigs, and monkeys should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by U.S. carriers. Factors to consider are the animal’s size, weight, state and foreign country restrictions, and whether or not the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or cause a fundamental alteration (e.g., significant disruption) in the cabin service. If none of these factors apply, the animal may accompany the passenger in the cabin. In most other situations, the animal should be carried in the cargo hold in accordance with company policy. Under the 2008 final rule, foreign carriers are not required to transport animals other than dogs.

Miscellaneous Questions

What about the passenger who has two or more service animals?

A single passenger legitimately may have two or more service animals. In these circumstances, you should make every reasonable effort to accommodate them in the cabin in accordance with Part 382 and company policies on seating. This might include permitting the passenger to purchase a second seat so that the animals can be accommodated in accordance with FAA safety regulations. You may offer the passenger a seat on a later flight if the passenger and animals cannot be accommodated together at a single passenger seat. Airlines may not charge passengers for accommodations that are required by Part 382, including transporting service animals in the cargo compartment. If carriage in the cargo compartment is unavoidable, notify the destination station to return the service animal(s) to the passenger at the gate as soon as possible, or to assist the passenger as necessary to retrieve them in the appropriate location.

Are there any situations in which an animal would not be permitted to accompany its user on the flight?

The only situation in which the rule contemplates that a service animal would not be permitted to accompany its user at his or her seat is where the animal blocks a space that, per FAA or applicable foreign government safety regulations, must remain unobstructed (e.g., an aisle, access to an emergency exit) AND the passenger and animal cannot be moved to another location where such a blockage does not occur. In such a situation, the carrier should first talk with other passengers to find a seat location in the cabin where the service animal and its user can be agreeably accommodated (e.g., by finding a passenger who is willing to share foot space with the animal). The fact that a service animal may need to use a reasonable portion of an adjacent seat’s foot space that does not deny another passenger effective use of the space for his or her feet by taking all or most of the passenger’s foot space is not, however, an adequate reason for the carrier to refuse to permit the animal to accompany its user at his or her seat. Only if no other alternative is available should the carrier discuss less desirable options concerning the transportation of the service animal with the passenger traveling with the animal, such as traveling on a later flight with more room or carrying the animal in cargo. As indicated above, airlines may not charge passengers with disabilities for services required by Part 382, including transporting their oversized service animals in the cargo compartment.

Should passengers provide advance notice to the airline concerning multiple or large service animals?

In most cases, airlines may not insist on advance notice or health certificates for service animals under the ACAA regulations. However, it is very useful for passengers to contact the airline well in advance if one or more of their service animals may need to be transported in the cargo compartment. The passenger will need to understand airline policies and should find out what type of documents the carrier would need to ensure the safe passage of the service animal in the cargo compartment and any restrictions for cargo travel that might apply (e.g., temperature conditions that limit live animal transport).

Accommodating Passengers With Service Animals in the Cabin

How can airline personnel help ensure that passengers with service animals are assigned and obtain appropriate seats on the aircraft?

Let passengers know the airline’s policy about seat assignments for people with disabilities. For instance: (1) should the passenger request pre-boarding at the gate? or (2) should the passenger request an advance seat assignment (a priority seat such as a bulkhead seat or aisle seat) up to 24 hours before departure? or (3) should the passenger request an advance seat assignment at the gate on the day of departure? When assigning priority seats, ask the passenger what location best fits his/her needs.

Passengers generally know what kinds of seats best suit their service animals. In certain circumstances, passengers with service animals must either be provided their pre-requested priority seats, or if their requested seat location cannot be made available, they must be assigned to other available priority seats of their choice in the same cabin class. Part 382.81(c) requires airlines to provide a bulkhead seat or a seat other than a bulkhead seat at the request of an individual traveling with a service animal.

Passengers should comply with airline recommendations or requirements regarding when they should arrive at the gate before a flight. This may vary from airport to airport and airline to airline. Not all airlines announce pre-boarding for passengers with special needs, although it may be available. If you wish to request pre-boarding, tell the agent at the gate.

A timely request for pre-boarding by a passenger with a disability must be honored (see sections 382.83(c) and 382.93) Part 382 does not require carriers to make modifications that would constitute an undue burden or would fundamentally alter their programs (382.13 (c)). Therefore, the following are not required in providing accommodations for users of service animals

> Requiring another passenger to give up all or a most of the space in front of his or her seat to accommodate a service animal. (There is nothing wrong with asking another passenger if the passenger would mind sharing foot space with a service animal, as distinct from telling the passenger that he or she must do so. Indeed, finding a passenger willing to share space is a common, and acceptable, method of finding an appropriate place for someone traveling with a service animal that may not be able to be seated in his or her original seat location.)

> Denying transportation to any individual on a flight in order to provide an accommodation to a passenger with a service animal; > Furnishing more than one seat per ticket; and

> Providing a seat in a class of service other than the one the passenger has purchased. (While a carrier is not required to do so, there could be situations in which the carrier could voluntarily reseat a passenger with a service animal in a different seating class. For example, suppose that the economy cabin is completely full and no alternate seat location in that cabin can be found for a service animal that cannot be seated at the passenger’s original seat location. If the business or first class cabin has vacant space, the carrier could choose to move the passenger and animal into the vacant space, rather than make the passenger and animal take a later flight.)

Are airline personnel responsible for the care and feeding of service animals?

Airline personnel are not required to provide care, food, or special facilities for service animals. The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of the passenger with a disability whom the animal is accompanying.

May a carrier charge a maintenance or cleaning fee to passengers who travel with service animals?

Part 382 prohibits carriers from imposing special charges for accommodations required by the regulation, such as carriage of a service animal. However, a carrier may charge passengers with a disability if a service animal causes damage, as long as it is its regular practice to charge non-disabled passengers for similar kinds of damage. For example, it could charge a passenger with a disability for the cost of repairing or cleaning a seat damaged by a service animal, assuming that it is its policy to charge when a non-disabled passenger or his or her pet causes similar damage.

Advice for Passengers with Service Animals

Ask about the airline’s policy on advance seat assignments for people with disabilities. For instance: (1) should a passenger request pre-boarding at the gate? or (2) should a passenger request an advance seat assignment (a priority seat such as a (bulkhead seat or aisle seat)) up to 24 hours before departure? or (3) should a passenger request an advance seat assignment at the gate on the day of departure?

Although airlines are not permitted to automatically require documentation for service animals other than emotional support or psychiatric service animals, if you think it would help you explain the need for a service animal, you may want to carry documentation from your physician or other licensed professional confirming your need for the service animal. Passengers with unusual service animals also may want to carry documentation confirming that their animal has been trained to perform a function or task for them.

> If you are traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you may be required by the airline to provide 48 hours’ advance notice.

> If you need a specific seat assignment for yourself and your service animal, make your reservation as far in advance as you can, and identify your need at that time.

> You may have to be flexible if your assigned seat unexpectedly turns out to be in an emergency exit row. When an aircraft is changed at the last minute, seating may be reassigned automatically. Automatic systems generally do not recognize special needs, and may make inappropriate seat assignments. In that case, you may be required by FAA regulations to move to another seat.

> Arrive at the gate when instructed by the airline, typically at least one hour before departure, and ask the gate agent for pre-boarding ~ if that is your desire.

Remember that your assigned seat may be reassigned if you fail to check in on time; airlines typically release seat assignments not claimed 30 minutes before scheduled departure. In addition, if you fail to check in on time you may not be able to take advantage of the airline’s preboard offer.

If you have a very large service animal or multiple animals that might need to be transported in the cargo compartment, contact the airline well in advance of your travel date. In most cases, airlines cannot insist on advance notice, except for emotional support or psychiatric service animals, or on health certificates for service animals under the ACAA regulations. However, it is very useful for passengers to contact the airline well in advance if one or more of their service animals may need to be transported in the cargo compartment. The passenger will need to understand airline policies and should find out what type of documents the carrier would need to ensure the safe passage of the service animal in the cargo compartment and any restrictions for cargo travel that might apply (e.g., temperature conditions that limit live animal transport).

If you are having difficulty receiving an appropriate accommodation, ask the airline employee to contact the airline’s CRO. Part 382 requires all airlines to have a CRO available during all hours of operation. The CRO is a resource for resolving difficulties related to disability accommodations.

> Another resource for resolving issues related to disability accommodations is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disability Hotline. The toll-free number is 1800-778-4838 (voice) and 1-800-455-9880 (TTY).

Glossary

Direct Threat to the Health or Safety of Others
A significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

Fundamental Alteration
A modification that substantially alters the basic nature or purpose of a program, service, product or activity.

Individual with a Disability
“Any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that, on a permanent or temporary basis, substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.” (Section 382.5)

Qualified Individual with a Disability
Any individual with a disability who:
(1) “takes those actions necessary to avail himself or herself of facilities or services offered by an carrier to the general public with respect to accompanying or meeting a traveler, use of ground transportation, using terminal facilities, or obtaining information about schedules, fares or policies”;

(2) “offers, or makes a good faith attempt to offer, to purchase or otherwise validly to obtain .. . a ticket” “for air transportation on an carrier”; or

(3) “purchases or possesses a valid ticket for air transportation on an carrier and presents himself or herself at the airport for the purpose of traveling on the flight for which the ticket has been purchased or obtained; and meets reasonable, nondiscriminatory confract of carriage requirements applicable to all passengers.” (Section 382.5).

Service Animal
Any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability; or any animal shown by documentation to be necessary for the emotional well being of a passenger.

Sources
In addition to applicable provisions of Part 382, the sources for this guidance include the following: “Guidance Concerning Service Animals in Air Transportation,” (61 FR 56420-56422, (November 1, 1996)), “Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals in Places of Business” (Department of Justice, July, 1996), and “ADA Business Brief: Service Animals” (Department of Justice, April 2002).

END of Guidance Document Portion

Trains

From the official Amtrak site:

Only service animals permitted

We allow trained service animals accompanying passengers with disabilities in all customer areas in our stations, trains and Amtrak Thruway motorcoaches.

We permit no other animals onboard at any time.

Control of your animal

You must keep your service animal under control at all times and comply with local animal safety regulations. The animal should always be on a leash or in a carrier, except as required for boarding or detraining.

Please note that if at any time you lose control of your animal, or your animal causes a significant disturbance, the train crew may in its discretion remove the animal from the train and turn it over to local animal control officials.

Walking your animal

If the train schedule permits, you may walk your service animal at station stops provided that you stay within reasonable proximity to the train and re-board promptly when the conductor notifies you that the train is about to depart. If you plan to walk your animal during the trip, please notify the conductor when you first board the train.

Note: You may be asked what type of service your animal performs.

Travel Tips And Topics



Although not a requirement, a Service Dog ID badge gives your service dog instant credibility by clearly stating that your dog is a service dog. The Department of Transportation lists service dog identification cards at the top of their list and only verbal assurance is at the bottom. Service Dog ID badges can dramatically speed up your process of getting through airport security, entering stores etc. without arguments or confrontations.

Many owners of service dogs have reported that the airlines have required some sort of identification even though by law they are not allowed to do this.

– Our Service Dog ID cards are the size and thickness of a standard credit card and are very durable. They are not cheap laminated pieces of paper.

– Our ID badges feature your service dogs photo, ID number (if applicable) and pertinent service dog handler information.

– All of our service dog ID badges have The United States Federal Laws on the back, including the United States Department of Justice’s phone number should business owners or employees have further questions about your service dogs in their place of business.

Traveling with your Service Dog
Service Dog ID Badges can help make traveling on commercial airlines much, much easier. The Department of Transportation, also known as D.O.T., Service Animal Guidance for airlines states the following:

* Carriers shall accept as evidence that an animal is a service animal. Identifiers are classified as identification cards, other written documentation, presence of harnesses, ID tags or the credible verbal assurances of a qualified individual with a disability using the animal.

There are no airline fees for service dogs (which can exceed $100 each way) and service dogs never travel in cargo. Our customers have flown thousands of miles without confrontation on these airlines and many more…

Southwest Airlines
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  US Airways
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Delta Airlines
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  America West
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Continental Airlines
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  Frontier Airlines
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jetBlue
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  Alaska Airlines
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American Airlines american-airlines.gif   United Airlines
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HOUSING

Housing Rights and Your Service or Emotional Support Animal


If a person is physically impaired (disabled) and has individually trained service dog to perform a major life task that the person has trouble performing for him or herself (or an emotional support animal prescribed by a licensed mental health professional), the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the landlord/property manager to make a reasonable accommodation to their policies and allow the tenant to have an emotional support animal. This includes species, breed, and weight policies.

That means if they have a “cats only” policy, they must accept your service dog. If they have a policy that allows dogs weighing no more than 30 lbs. and your emotional support animal (ESA) weighs 75 lbs., they must make a change in the rules to accommodate you. If they accept all dogs, except pit bulls, and you have a pit bull, they must allow your pit bull to reside with you.

Property managers/landlords are NOT required to make a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act for ESAs or Service Animals in these cases:

  • Buildings with 4 or less units where the landlord occupies one of the units
  • Single family housing sold or rented without a real estate broker
  • Hotels and Motels are not considered dwellings under the FHA but are considered places of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Private Clubs

Documentation Required For Emotional Support Animals
The one requirement for a person to legally qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA) is that the person has a letter from a licensed mental health professional (therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist -NOT the family doctor) on his/her letterhead that states the person is under his/her care, is emotionally or psychiatrically disabled, and prescribes for the person an emotional support animal. Without this letter, if the person presents an animal as an ESA, he/she is in violation of federal law; an offense punishable by fine and imprisonment, if convicted.

If you have no therapist or your therapist is unwilling to write a letter of prescription for an ESA, we recommend Chilhowee Psychological service, who offers a disability assessment designed to determine your eligibility. If you meet the disabled criteria based on their assessment, then they also send that RX letter to you, written by a licensed therapist.

Verification May Be Required By Property Managers
These laws allows a property manager to accept a letter from the tenant’s licensed mental health professional (LMHP) for an ESA, but they may also require a verification form to be completed by a physician or LMHP, confirming the tenant’s physical/emotional/psychiatric disability. Despite how much the property manager/landlord does NOT want your service dog or emotional support animal, federal law requires him/her to make a reasonable accommodation in the rules. If they do not, they are discriminating against a disabled person and are in violation of federal law. Here is a link to a government document (one of many) that addresses this issue. See the 3rd page, second column): http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FINALRULE/Pet_Ownership_Final_Rule.pdf

Examples and Specific Rules
So how do Fair Housing laws apply to real life situations? Here are some examples:

John has been diagnosed with severe depression and is disabled as defined by the Fair Housing Act. His doctor prescribes John a dog to help alleviate some of his symptoms. John asks his landlord if he can have a dog as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. His landlord says yes, but tells John he’ll need to pay a $250 pet deposit and must provide proof that the animal is trained.

Question: Did John’s landlord correctly handle John’s request under the Fair Housing Act? What if John wanted a cat or a ferret instead?

Answer: No, John’s landlord did not handle his request correctly. The landlord cannot charge John a pet deposit for his animal because it is not a pet, but rather emotional support animal required for his emotional impairment. Further, the landlord cannot ask for proof that the animal is trained. Lastly, emotional support animals do not have to be just dogs; they can also be other animals, such as cats or ferrets (and many other species).

Landlords cannot:

  • Ask a tenant to pay a deposit, fee, or surcharge in exchange for having a service or emotional support animal, evenif they require such a practice from owners who wish to obtain pets in their dwelling.
  • Require that an emotional support animal have any specific training
  • Require the emotional support animal to wear or carry any special collar, harness, vest, emblem, or other means of identifying it as such.
  • Inquire about the extent of the disability, or ask for detailed medical records for the individual requesting the service or emotional support animal.
  • Refuse to accommodate you and your animal because their insurance policy won’t allow a species, breed, or weight. They are still subject to the law.
  • A person with a disability may, however, be charged for damages caused to the premises by their emotional support or service animal.
  • A disabled person who does not properly manage his/her unruly, destructive, aggressive, or disturbance causing animal can be evicted.

What To Do When a Property Manager Refuses To Comply
Failure to accommodate a physically or emotionally impaired person is a violation of federal law and can be successfully sued AND the landlord/property manager financially penalized by the U.S. Justice Dept. because it is considered discrimination against a disabled person. Something the government takes seriously.

  1. Clients are encouraged to make sure the landlord or property manager are clearly aware of the law and consequences to help them avoid prosecution and punitive damages. Most are in violation simply because they do not know the law. The U.S. Justice Dept. does not consider the property manager’s lack of awareness when they prosecute them, however.
  2. A client can report the landlord/property manager to the U.S. Justice Dept. and file a complaint for discrimination.
  3. A client may sue the landlord/property manager for discrimination.

You’ll need to be prepared to reinforce your position and case with supplemental documentation from a physician or mental health professional that verifies your need for the animal.

Here here is more information that refer to these issues (these apply to all states):

http://www.hud.gov/local/shared/working/r10/fh/questions.cfm?state=ak


Service Animals & Housing

Content contributed by: Tammi Bornstein, Attorney, and Susan L. Duncan, RN.

Landlords, tenants and owners in multifamily housing, housing management associations and realtors often have questions about service animals in housing that traditionally has had no-pet policies. In many areas, despite federal and some state laws that protect people with disabilities to have service animals in housing, confusion about rights and obligations persist. This can lead to discrimination. The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act is the law that most often helps to provide the guidance necessary to answer the questions that arise about service animals in housing. This article is not legal advice, but is informal technical assistance to help answer some of the most frequently asked housing questions. Advice about individual circumstances and about the legal interpretation of the Fair Housing Act can be obtained from the local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.

History of the Fair Housing Amendments Act

The Fair Housing Act is a civil rights law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in housing. Originally, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings. Subsequently, the Fair Housing Amendments Act (commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act) of 1989 was enacted to further address inequities in housing. It broadened the definition of “protected class” to include, among others, individuals with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination because of disability in the sale, rental or advertising of dwellings. The law requires public and private housing providers to modify policies and practices that deprive individuals with disabilities of their rights to enjoy and use their dwellings.

How the Fair Housing Act Protects Individuals with Disabilities with Regard to Service Animals

Service animals are a healthcare option that many individuals choose to help them overcome the limitations imposed by disabilities. The Fair Housing Act protects individuals who have disabilities as defined by the Act. In order to be protected by the Fair Housing Act with regard to service animals, 3 tests must be met:

1. The person must have a disability (see Disability Defined, following).
2. The animal must serve a function directly related to the person’s disability.
3. The request to have the service animal must be reasonable.

The provisions that protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by service animals are just one way that the Fair Housing Act protects people with disabilities. With regard to service animals, the Fair Housing Act does not protect individuals who do not have disabilities, or situations in which individuals train animals for use by people other than themselves.

Disability Defined

The Fair Housing Act defines a person with a disability as an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or has a record of an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment (regardless of whether that perception is accurate). It is not necessary that the disability be an obvious one.
Disability is defined broadly and has been found to include such conditions as alcoholism and drug addiction but excludes individuals with current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance. Other specific exemptions, such as transvestitism, are listed in the Act.

Types of Housing Covered and Exempted

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing types, with limited exceptions. The Act generally does not cover single family residences sold or rented by a private, individual owner, provided that:

  • the individual owner does not own any interest in, or have owned by someone else on his/her behalf, more than 3 such single-family houses at any one time.
  • the private individual owner has not sold more than one nonowner occupied single-family house within a 24-month period.
  • with regards to the sale or rental of a dwelling, it is sold or rented without advertising or the assistance of a person or entity that is in the business of selling or renting dwellings.
  • the owner occupies and maintains one of no more than 4 rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended for occupation by no more than 4 families living independently of each other.
  • the housing owned by religious organizations and private clubs for other than commercial purposes limit occupancy to their members.

Dwelling Defined

Dwelling is defined in the Fair Housing Act as any building, structure or part thereof which is intended for occupancy as a residence by one or more families. The terms “dwelling” and “dwelling units” have been broadly interpreted. Types of facilities recognized as dwellings include:
• nursing homes.
• group homes for recovering addicts and alcoholics.
• seasonal facilities (i.e. for migrant workers).
• residential facilities.
• mobile homes.
• trailer parks.

Condominiums and cooperatives are also considered dwellings and are subject to the prohibitions against discrimination except when a particular unit is sold by an individual owner who is accorded exempt status. In such cases the Fair Housing Act may not apply to the individual unit owner, but would still apply to the condominium or cooperative association. So, with regard to access by individuals with service animals, the result is the same: restrictive policies must be modified to allow a person with a disability to be accompanied by his or her service animal.

Lodging for transient guests such as hotels and motels are not dwellings under the Fair Housing Act. However, hotels, motels, inns, shelters for people who are homeless and similar places of lodging are considered to be public accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and likewise may not discriminate against people on the basis of disability.

Required Conduct

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the sale or rental, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny housing, to individuals because of their disabilities. The law covers not only the named buyer/renter but also all individuals who reside in the dwelling or are associated with the buyer or renter.

For the purpose of sale or rental, the Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers (landlords, property managers, owners, etc.) from asking whether an individual has a disability or about the nature or severity of that disability. In addition, housing providers may not request or require medical records or documentation of disability. However, limited exception is made and questions specific to disability may be asked in certain circumstances, such as:

  • to determine whether an individual qualifies for residency in dwellings that are designated for, and made available only to, persons with disabilities.
  • when particular units are set aside for priority occupancy by individuals with disabilities.
  • when a person with a disability requests a reasonable accommodation, such as having a service animal in otherwise “no-pets” housing (see definition, following).

It is legal for housing providers to inquire about any individual’s ability to meet the requirements of ownership or tenancy when the same inquiries are made of all applicants, whether or not they have disabilities. A provider may consider an applicant’s ability to pay, past rental history, and violations of rules and laws. Further, an application for tenancy or ownership may be rejected when it can be demonstrated by concrete and credible evidence that an individual would be a direct threat to the safety, or cause substantial damage to the property, of others. An individual with a disability will be held to the same standards of behavior and obligations as any other individual.

Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodations are modifications that are practical and feasible. The Fair Housing Act requires that owners and landlords provide reasonable accommodation (that is, a change in rules and policies) when necessary to permit an individual with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. It is the responsibility of the person with the disability to request any necessary reasonable accommodations necessary for tenancy.

An example of reasonable accommodation is modifying no-pet policies and practices to support the right of a person with a disability to have a service animal in a publicly or privately owned dwelling. Refusal to permit an exception to a no-pets rule may constitute a discriminatory practice when an individual with a disability is unable to use and enjoy a dwelling, including entertaining guests with disabilities who require the use of service animals.

Although inquiries into the existence, nature and extent of disabilities are prohibited by the Fair Housing Act when application is made for housing, an individual with a disability who requests a reasonable accommodation may be asked to provide some reliable professional documentation (but medical records may not be required) confirming that he or she has a disability and the accommodation is necessary for the person to reside in the housing. To support a discrimination claim, the person with the disability might be required to further demonstrate that the requested reasonable accommodation is necessary for his or her equal use and enjoyment of their dwelling. In investigating complaints brought under the Act, HUD considers whether there is evidence that supports a finding of disability, whether the service animal performs a function directly related to the individual’s disability, and whether the requested accommodation is reasonable.

Service Animal Categorized

The Fair Housing Act does not define “service animal” per se, and does not make a distinction among certified service animals, non-certified animals, animals that provide psychological support, and service animals in training that live with the people with disabilities for whom they will work. The Act does not have restrictions about who may train the animal. However, the Act recognizes that service animals are necessary for the individuals with disabilities who have them, and as such does not categorize service animals as “pets.” Service animals, then, cannot be subjected to “pet rules” that may be applied by housing providers to companion (non service) animals. Housing providers cannot, for example, impose upon service animals the size or weight restrictions of a pet rule, exclusions from areas where people are generally welcome, or access restrictions to only a particular door or elevator. Further, special tags, equipment, “certification” or special identification of service animals cannot be required. Judith Keeler, Director, U.S. Dept. of HUD, Northwest Alaska Area Fair, Housing Enforcement Center, states that it is HUD’s position that no deposit may be charged for the service animal.

The Act does not specifically limit the number of service animals an individual with a disability may have. Requests for multiple service animals may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. It is possible that housing providers may impose limitations if it can be demonstrated that an individual’s request for reasonable accommodation exceeds what is necessary for that person to have full use and enjoyment of the premises.

Individuals with disabilities may request other reasonable accommodations regarding their service animals. For example, a person with a mobility impairment may find it difficult to walk a service dog. He and the landlord might work together to identify a mutually agreeable, and accessible, area of the property on which the dog can relieve itself.

Rights of Housing Providers

Individuals with disabilities are solely responsible for the conduct of their service animals, and housing providers may have recourse available if the tenant fails to satisfy this obligation. For example, a housing provider may require payment for damages (such as chewed carpeting), or insist that a service animal be prevented from repeated barking that disturbs neighbors. However, a housing provider may first be obligated to attempt resolution of the problem before eviction proceedings are initiated. Complaints about a service animal must be substantiated and not based on speculation.

Service animals that are a direct threat to others (biting, etc.) or otherwise violate animal control laws can be reported to the agency that enforces animal control laws. Often the agency is the animal control department, or the local police. Some local and state laws exempt service animals from some animal control laws (see Other Federal Laws, following).

Responding to Discriminatory Conduct

If an individual feels he or she is being discriminated against because of a disability, and efforts to resolve the matter through discussion with housing management fail, a complaint may be filed with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) within one year of the alleged discriminatory conduct. HUD provides complaint forms and instructions for filing a complaint.

In addition, if the resident’s state or locality has laws pertaining to nondiscrimination in housing, a complaint may be sent to the agency that administers those laws (usually the state Human Rights Commission or office of the state attorney general). The deadlines for filing may be different than that of Fair Housing Act. Complaints are investigated by the enforcement agencies that administer the law(s) in question. If the complaints are found to have merit (a basis for complaint), the agencies will attempt resolution through conciliation (informal resolution, not a law suit). If these attempts fail, the case will proceed to an administrative hearing, or if requested by either party, will proceed to litigation (law suit) in federal district court. Private lawsuits may also be filed in federal court, at the individual’s own expense, within 2 years following the discriminatory act.
In addition, there may be certain state and local laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities in housing. However, federal law will supercede any state or local law that is more restrictive and provides less protection for the individual with the disability.

Other Federal Laws

In addition to the Fair Housing Act, there are other federal laws which forbid discrimination based on disability.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all programs and activities that are either conducted by the federal government or receive federal financial assistance. The concept of reasonable accommodation in this Act served as the model for the Fair Housing Act.

HUD’s “Pets in Elderly Housing” regulation, often referred to as the “Pet Rule,” was enacted in 1986, revised in 1996 and again in 1999. It applies to federally assisted rental housing designated exclusively for residency by those 62 years of age or older or people with disabilities. It not only protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to have service animals, but also allows all residents of most federally funded housing to have pets (companion or nonservice animals). Landlords may have “reasonable” pet policies, which might include size restrictions, for these pets. One of the types of housing that this rule does not cover is Section 8 housing, which is covered by the Fair Housing Act. Section 8 housing has no requirements for landlords to permit pets (nonservice animals).

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation. The ADA covers certain types of nontraditional housing, such as temporary shelters.

Other Resources and Educational Sources

Too often, housing discrimination results from a lack of understanding about the needs of individuals with disabilities and the requirements imposed by law. Education and communication are key to reducing this discriminatory conduct. Additional information about service animals in housing can be obtained from:
• the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
• the U.S. Department of Justice.
• your state Attorney General.
• an attorney of choice.


Note: Service animal costs might be applicable as medical costs toward “spend downs” used to calculate rent in subsidized housing. For more information, refer to individual subsidization program guidelines or consult the local HUD office.