You have the right to be accompanied by your service dog in Georgia in almost any public area, with very limited exceptions. Service dogs can accompany their handlers wherever they would otherwise be able to go, subject to exceptions like sterile hospital environments where there is an extreme risk to public safety. Any breed is eligible to become a service dog in Georgia and no dogs may be denied based on breed or size.
Definition of a Service Dog in Georgia
Under federal law, a service animal is defined as a dog that is individually trained to do work, or perform tasks for a person with a disability. “Work” or “tasks” means to take a specific action when required to assist its handler with their disability in question. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public places may not discriminate against people with disabilities who utilize service dogs to assist them. A service dog in Georgia are permitted in all public areas, including:
• Movie theaters and arenas
• Restaurants and bars
• Public transportation and taxis
• Shopping malls
Registering a Service Dog in Georgia
While there are no mandatory registration requirements for a service dog in Georgia, it is good practice that you possess physical identification to avoid disputes with third parties about the validity of your service dog’s status. By law, any dog that meets the ADA’s definition of a service dog is a valid service dog. This means that any dog that has been individually trained to perform a specific task to assist someone living with a disability may be qualified as a service dog.
The process is straightforward, just follow these three steps:
- Identify the right service dog for your disability
- Ensure proper training
- Register and certify your service dog
Step 1: Identify the Right Service Dog for Your Disability
While all breeds are eligible to become service dogs, certain breeds have characteristics and instincts that allow them to excel at specific tasks. Service dogs may assist individuals who suffer from psychiatric disabilities such as:
• Substance abuse and addiction
• Eating disorders
A service dog in Georgia can assist those suffering from 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
A dog’s temperament is a critical marker of a good service dog. Formal training certifications are not required, and no one may be denied access due to lack of professional training. You can receive professional training or self-train your service dog but it is important to understand that professional training is not required.
Step 3: Register and Certify Your Service Dog
There is no official registry for service dogs in Georgia and service dog certificates are not a formal requirement. 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.
Violation of the Service Animal Access Act is a Class C misdemeanor.
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?
If the task your dog is trained to perform is extremely obvious, then these questions may not be permissible to ask.
Once you confirm the above, businesses must make reasonable accommodations. Unfortunately, many businesses and institutions 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.
The use physical markers such as bandanas or collars is also a useful tool to allow the public to quickly confirm service dog status without having to interact directly with a handler.
Where Are Service Dogs Permitted?
State and Federal laws states that business are required to allow service dogs in the same areas that the general public is permitted. The only exceptions to this are situations where there is a risk to public health that outweighs the individual benefits received from the service dog.
According to Georgia State Code, service dogs in training have the same access rights as fully trained service dogs.
Emotional Support Animals
Emotional Support Animals are not considered to be Service Animals. However, ESAs are included under the Fair Housing Act’s definition of assistance animals, and accordingly may permitted to live in buildings where landlords do not otherwise allow pets for no additional fees.
Register now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog Identification and Certification.