Service Animals

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice revised the regulations governing the Americans with Disabilities Act Requirements for Service Animals. The information on this page may assist you to better understand the ADA's revised service animal rules.

In 2014, the ADA National Network published a highly recommended self-advocacy resource titled Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.

You may also contact Disability Rights Florida at 1-800-342-0823 if you have problems associated with your service animal.


Service Animal

Child with service dogThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 2010 Regulations define a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition."  C.F.R. § 35.104 and § 36.104 (2010).

If they meet this definition, dogs are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Adult with miniature horse

In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the ADA also has a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.

Florida law defines a “service animal” differently. In Florida, it means an animal that is trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability including, but not limited to, guiding a person who is visually impaired or blind, alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, assisting with mobility or balance, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, retrieving objects, or performing other special tasks.

Person with a Disability

Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such an individual; a record of such an impairment; or be regarded as having such an impairment.

Work and Tasks

According to the § 35.104 and § 36.104 (2010), examples of work and tasks performed by service animals include, but are not limited to:

  • guiding people who are blind or have low vision
  • alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • providing non-violent protection or rescue work
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • assisting an individual during a seizure
  • alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
  • retrieving items
  • providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities
  • helping persons with psychiatric or neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
  • reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, or
  • calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.

Crime deterrence or provision of comfort or emotional support do not constitute "work or tasks" under the ADA.