What is the ADA ruling on emotional disabilites and service animals?
- KirstenLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
Service animals for people with mental disabilities, including those with emotional disabilities are discussed in the Codes of Federal Regulation (28 CFR 36.104 Definitions):
You can read an analysis of how the ADA applies specifically to psychiatric service dogs and their handlers on Service Dog Central at: http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/75
Be aware that there is a difference between an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service animal.
Here is the U.S. Department of Justice's official position on emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals:
"Comfort animals vs. psychiatric service animals. Under the
Department's present regulatory language, some individuals and entities have assumed that the requirement that service animals must be individually trained to do work or carry out tasks excluded all persons with mental disabilities from having service animals. Others have assumed that any person with a psychiatric condition whose pet provided comfort to him or her was covered by the ADA. The Department believes that psychiatric service animals that are trained to do work or perform a task (e.g., reminding its owner to take medicine) for persons whose disability is covered by the ADA are protected by the Department's present regulatory approach.
Psychiatric service animals can be trained to perform a variety of tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and ameliorate their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine; providing safety checks, or room searches, or turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders; and keeping disoriented individuals from danger.
The Department is proposing new regulatory text in Sec. 35.104 to formalize its position on emotional support or comfort animals, which is that ``[a]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being are not service animals.'' The Department wishes to underscore that the exclusion of emotional support animals from ADA coverage does not mean that persons with psychiatric, cognitive, or mental disabilities cannot use service animals. The Department proposes specific regulatory text in Sec. 35.104 to make this clear: ``[t]he term service animal includes individually trained animals that do work or perform tasks for the benefit of individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric, cognitive, and mental disabilities.'' This language simply clarifies the Department's longstanding position."
Note that the U.S. Department of Justice is the entity responsible for enforcing the ADA and for writing the section of the Codes of Federal Regulation pertaining to service animals.