Register a Service Dog in California
The State of California expressly permits those with disabilities to enjoy their daily lives with the companionship of a service dog. Service dogs are legally permitted in public establishments in California and may not be denied due to any local regulations. Service dogs in California are widely accepted.
California Service Dog Definition
The ADA defines a service dog as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Across all counties in California, private businesses and non-profits that serve the public have a general requirement to allow service dogs to accompany their handlers in all areas where the public is permitted.
How do I Register a Service Dog in California?
California does not have any mandatory registration identification requirements, however we always recommended possessing a digital ID at the very minimum in order avoid getting into disputes with third parties about the validity of the service dog’s registration.
We’ve distilled the requirements of how your dog can become a service dog in California as follows:
- Identify the right service dog for your disability
- Ensure proper training
- Registering and certifying your service dog
Step 1: Identify the right service dog for your disability
While any dog breed is eligible to be a service dog in California, certain breeds have characteristics and instincts that allow them to excel at specific tasks. California is one of the states that allows service dogs to assist individuals who suffer from psychiatric disabilities. Such disabilities include:
- Substance Abuse and Addiction
- Eating Disorders
Service dogs can assist those suffering with psychiatric disabilities through numerous tasks such as tactile stimulation, blocking in public spaces, assisting with taking medication and many more physical and emotional tasks.
Step 2: Ensure Proper Training
This is the most important step in having your dog become a service dog. Training and temperament are the key aspects and markers of a service dog. The State of California does not issue or require any formal training certifications. This aspect of the process is completely self-regulated by the community.
Step 3: Registering and Certifying Your Service Dog in California
There is no official registry for service dogs in California and service dog certificates are not a formal requirement. Any service dog registry claiming to be government operated or sanctioned is simply false information. Business operators and government officials cannot legally require proof of registration, training or licensing as a condition to enter their establishment where the public is permitted.
The only two questions that are permissible for you to be asked about your service dog are:
- Is the animal required because of a disability?
- What task has the animal been trained to perform?
Once you confirm the above, businesses must make reasonable accommodations. Unfortunately, many businesses that interact with the public are unfamiliar with the laws surrounding service animals and insist on receiving physical proof of service dog registration.
As a matter of convenience and to ensure proper access as intended by the ADA, many service dog handlers choose to voluntarily register their dogs as service dogs and carry a digital ID card and/or certificate with them. This can prevent uncomfortable situations or confusion when interacting with staff at public establishments.
Emotional Support Animals in California
If your disability does not rise to certain thresholds or if your dog is not specifically trained to perform a specific task, you may be eligible to register your dog as an ESA. ESAs are officially recognized as assistance animals, however they do not get the same access of service dogs. That being said, there are many tangible benefits to registering an ESA, such as being able to travel to hotels without extra fees. ESAs are also permitted to live in buildings that do not otherwise allow pets.
Living With Your Service Dog in California
Under California law, reasonable accommodations are required to be made for individuals with service dogs anywhere where “the general public is invited”. As a result, you can essentially bring your service dog anywhere in California including public transportation, movie theatres, hotels, schools and restaurants.
Register now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog Identification and Certification.