Assistive Animals in Housing Accommodations
By Phyllis W. Cheng and Mallory Sepler-King
©2014 All Rights Reserved.
Using animals to assist people with disabilities is a well-established practice. Many people use animals in some capacity to help manage or alleviate the symptoms of physical or psychological disabilities. Two different categories of assistive animals are defined under the law: service animals and support animals, also called "companion animals" or "emotional support animals." A service animal, which must be accommodated by public accommodations, is defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA")1 as "dogs trained to perform a task to benefit an individual with a disability."2 Guide dogs and signal dogs, which assist with hearing impairments, fall under the service animal category.3 Under the ADA, in addition to dogs, use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability is also permitted if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.4