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fire asked in PetsDogs · 1 decade ago

Does the ADA exempt service dogs that work off leash form local leash laws?

I work with a service dog that works off leash. I am Aspergeric, a form of mild autism, who works with a physiological service dog. The dog has been trained over several years to function as a service dog. What the dog does is provide feed back and interaction which helps me control secondary characteristics of the Aspergers. Essentially by maintaining control of the dog I can control allot of characteristics that make it difficult to interact with people. The dog lets me know when I am acting inappropriately. The dog travels with me all the time including when I work, socialize, and recreate.

The problem I have now is that I was ticketed for violating a leash law and told to leave a mountain bike riding area in Boulder County, Colorado, because the Officer claimed that dogs were prohibited from even being in the cars in the park's parking area even service dogs. Essentially I had let the dog out of the car to exercise some. In the past the dog would accompany me on rides but he is getting too old for this now. The dog still wants to accompany me on the rides and will bark if I just leave him in the car (The car is specially insulated and the windows stay down so there is no danger the dog will overheat in the car.) . What I found I could do, was to ride a short way with the dog tiring some and he will not bark when I left in the car for my ride. It was when I was doing this that I got ticketed for a Leash Law violation and ordered to leave the park by a Boulder County Sheriff Officer. The Officer did this even after I showed him the paper work from my physiologist showing that my dog was a service dog and I explained what I was doing.

I know that the ADA allows me to have the dog in the park. The problem I have now is the leash law. So far I have found only one out state case that states that a service dog that is working and is under control is not a dog at large. Does anybody have any idea how the ADA allows for leash law exemption?

10 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A Service Dog WORKING off-leash is just that .. a Service Dog. If your disability requires that the dog be unleashed while working (performing tasks) then I'm certain you could reasonably argue that in a court of law. However, just needing a Service Dog, having one working with you and deciding not to leash it probably isn't enough.

    A Service Dog unaccompanied, not working, or unaccompanied in a car is... just a dog and is subject to any laws any other dog would be subject to.

    The ADA makes no proclamations regarding whether the dog must be on or off-leash. It probably didn't occur to them.

    Depending on the merits of your case, the ACLU is looking for instances of discrimination to those using Service Dogs to take to court.

    *I* would dispute the ticket as a chance to educate the officer and the court system... but I have MS... and a neurologist who recommended using a service dog. I have no clue what the courts would think of a physiologist signing a note for someone with Asperger's.

    (You might want to ask this in the legal section)

    Edit: I wonder how Elaine proposes a Service Dog kept at the disabled person's side is supposed to go to retrieve medication, open a door, turn off a light etc... these are things that are not always within reach of a leash.

  • Cindy
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Animal Artwork (as she normally does) has this right. A service dog can work on and off leash. It depends on the service the dog is trained to do.

    The ADA protects you and the dog from any form of discrimination. When working, the dog is a tool, no different than a wheel chair, a cane or other such item.

    While I'm not a lawyer nor am I familiar with the leash laws in your area, I do not think your dog was functioning as a working dog at the time of the ticket. If your dog was working, no problem fighting the ticket. However, you left your "tool" in the car while doing an activity. At that point, he isn't a service dog, but a pet.

    Check with a lawyer in your area. However, I would imagine you may be paying the ticket.

    Source(s): Owned by 5 dogs and volunteer with a service dog organization.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I just watched a video clip where walmart kicked a customer out because her service dog was a pit bull, and "there were children present" according to the store employee that kicked her out. National Laws allow you to take service dogs anywhere, legally. Because in the eyes of the law, that dog is no longer a "dog", it is a crucial aid for you or anyone else in need of a service dog. So, no way could an officer tell you that not even service dogs are allowed in parking areas.

    That being said, I am unsure of leash laws. Seeing as how in the eyes of the law, service dogs aren't viewed as "dogs", I don't think they fall under the same laws.

    The fine hippy town of Boulder views dogs differently as well, though. In boulder, a dog is not viewed as property, but is actually legally viewed as a living companion. This changes a LOT of laws (and makes many common things, like euthanasia, VERY difficult for vets to perform. The law is worded in a way that you could view euthanasia as illegal in Boulder). And I have to say for this case, I agree with the officer. No dog should be left in the car. Hey, I live 30 minutes from boulder. Our weather has been hot lately. A little cooler with some cloud cover most days, but definetly not cool enough that it would be safe for a dog in the car for extended periods of time. Now, if you can survive long enough away from your dog to take a bike ride, I think you could survive long enough to leave him alone. That is just my view on the matter, and I do not understand the extent of your condition, so I can not truly make a long judgment about it.

    So sorry, I can not fully answer your question, as I am not sure what the leash laws are. I just know Boulder views dogs VERY differently from most other cities/states/countys.

  • 1 decade ago

    A dog helping someone with aspergers sydrome has no need to be offleash any more than a guide dog for the blind or a hearing dog for the deaf. I am yet to know of any reason why any service dog would need to be offlead in public places. Sure at home dogs for the physically disabled do do work offleash and if the individual task required it the dog could be offlead for that particular task. WHY does any service dog need to be offlead at all times????

    If your dog is a highly trained service dog it should be trained not to bark and one wonders what level of training this dog has had that he thinks it is OK to bark while in the car. If you intended to put the dog in the car while you road your bike in the park, you clearly had no need for the dogs services and the dog was not with you at that particular time to work, and so would not have any exemption from the leash law.

    Dogs can and do overheat in cars, even when the windows are down. They cannot sweat like us and do rely on us to keep them safe. Since you had no need for the dog at the park to ride your bike, and clearly a dog does not help you to drive, why don't you simply leave the dog at home.

    It is like people that think that it is OK for there service dog to be offlead and playing at a no dog beach. If a service dog is in a no dog area it must be working and behaving as a service dog.

    How is it that your dog can aid you in a better way off leash to on leash? This the question that you need to ask yourself, as do others.

    There is absolutely no need for service dogs to offlead at all times in public places, and very very few if any service dogs need to be offlead in public places ever.

    The ADA and other laws are not about providing disabled people with special privilleges, it is about providing reasonable accommodations. Is it reasonable for evey single service dog to be offlead all the time. I don't think so. All dogs, even the best trained guide, and service dogs do break training all the time. They are not lassie and leashes are there to protect the dog, who at most as the IQ of a toddler. A parent would put such a young child in a pram and/or hold the child's hand, etc to keep them safe, so why do not want to do the same to your service dog.

    A letter from a doctor or other medical provider does not and never will make a dog a service dog and clearly this animal control officer was aware of this.

    Source(s): Service dog user and disability advocate
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  • 1 decade ago

    The ADA does not exempt you from local laws, including scooping laws, leash laws, and licensing laws.

    Some states or more often some cities have exemptions in their ordinances for leash laws and scooping laws. It is the case in the city I live in. Look to your city for assistance in this area, not the ADA.

    Consider getting a cart you can pull with your bike. The sort parents use to take their toddler's along for the ride. You may find a used one at a garage sale or on Craig's list. To ride with a dog running along side, invest in a springer

    This is my area of expertise, but you shouldn't take the word of any answerer on Y!A on face value, including mine. Call the U.S. Department of Justice for any needed clarification on what the ADA does and does not do.

    1 800 514 0301


    The only exception would be if the dog HAD to be off leash to perform a specific task, and he would be exempt only during the performance of that task. I didn't mention that originally because coming along for a bike ride isn't a task, and if he can be left in the car then he isn't needed to perform a task on the ride. Some cities exempt service dogs from leash laws regardless of whether they are performing a task, but the ADA does not.

    Source(s): I'm a disability advocate specializing in service dog issues.
  • 5 years ago

    Dog training are excellent and very helpful to build you a stronger relationship with your dog. Read more

    After I started training my dog, he became very attached to me and loves to stay by side as long as he can. But just going to them won't help. You have to practice what they teach you outside of the class and you need to keep up with it at least every now and then after the class ends otherwise they'll just go back to previous habits. This course is a really good place to go for dog obedience classes. It get's your dog around other people and dogs to socialize while getting the training you need. As for electric collars, I would say to not get one. In my experience, they're only a negative effect on your dog. I mean of course you're going to need to correct your dog, but being positive and encouraging your dog works a lot faster and easier.

    Every dog is different, so unless you have a german shepherd or a really smart dog, it might take a while to train her. You might get frustrated with her, but go easy. She's still a puppy and has a lot of energy. A backyard or somewhere to run will help her get rid of a lot of energy that might cause her to misbehave from boredom.

  • 1 decade ago

    The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and so it takes priority over the local or state laws or regulations.

  • 1 decade ago

    Animal Artwork is the only one here who is even remotely close.

    For more precise answers, see where you posted this question in the "Law" section.

    Source(s): Husband of Guide dog user and 4-H Guide puppy raiser
  • 1 decade ago

    Unless the dog is a trained cadaver or rescue dog, no. Use a leash. You can use a 10 foot one but the dog still needs to be on leash to be under control in the public. Service dogs need to be at a person's side, not roaming the sidewalk or street.

  • 1 decade ago

    As long as the dog has a collar the pound will call you when they pick him up, Dogs must be kept on a leash anywhere in which they might foul, make excessive noise or cause nuisance to the public in any manner deemed a nuisance by your local government. If you ask a cop or go online and search lay judges for your area they should be able to help in by-laws but i doubt it. sorry

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