- Definition of a Service Dog in Massachusetts
- Registering a Service Dog in Massachusetts
- Where Are Service Dogs Permitted in Massachusetts?
- Emotional Support Animals in Massachusetts
Owning a service animal in Massachussets can be life-changing for individuals with disabilities as it offers vital assistance and can greatly enhance their quality of life. Fortunately, those who require the help of a Service Dog in Massachusetts have the right to bring them along almost everywhere in public places. Service dogs are welcome in most areas where the general public is permitted, with few exceptions such as sterile hospital settings where their presence may pose a threat to public health and safety.
Moreover, all breeds are eligible to become service dogs at any age, and there is no single breed that is considered better than the others. Any breed is eligible to become a Service Dog in Massachusetts at any age and no one breed is necessarily better than the other.
Definition of a Service Dog in Massachusetts
A service animal is defined in the Americans with disabilities Act (ADA) 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. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities who rely on a Service Dog in Massachusetts to assist them.
According to the ADA, places of public accommodation must provide equal access to individuals with disabilities. This includes hotels, restaurants, bars, cinemas, sports arenas, grocery stores, retail shops, hospitals, healthcare provider offices, laundromats, gas stations, banks, public transportation stations, museums, libraries, private schools, and recreational or exercise facilities. These locations are classified as places of public accommodation, and discrimination against people with disabilities who use service dogs is not allowed.
The Massachusetts Service Animal Law definition of a service animal is restricted to a Service Dog in Massachusetts that assists an individual with a sensory and/or physical disability. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a more comprehensive definition of service animals at the federal level.
Registering a Service Dog in Massachusetts
While there is no compulsory registration for service dogs in Massachusetts, some handlers opt to carry identification to prevent potential disputes with individuals who may doubt the legitimacy of their Service Dog in Massachusetts. According to federal law, any dog that fulfills the definition of a service dog, as outlined by the ADA, is considered a genuine service dog. This implies that any dog that has received specialized training to assist a person with a disability can be recognized as a service dog.
The process to register is straightforward, just follow these three steps:
- Identify the right service dog for your disability
- Ensure proper training of your Service Dog in Massachusetts
- Register and certify your Service Dog in Massachusetts
Step 1: Identify the Right Service Dog for Your Disability
While any breed of dog can serve as a service dog, certain breeds have unique characteristics and instincts that make them better suited for specific tasks. For instance, service animals can be trained to assist people with:
- low vision or blindness in navigation and other tasks
- alert deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals to sounds or people
- offer non-violent protection or rescue work
- pull a wheelchair
- aid someone during a seizure
- detect allergens,
- retrieve medication or the telephone
- provide physical support and stability for those with mobility disabilities
- prevent or interrupt impulsive or destructive behaviors for individuals with psychiatric or neurological disabilities.
Step 2: Ensure Proper Training of a Service Dog in Massachusetts
Training and temperament are critical markers of a service dog. Formal training certifications are not required, so this aspect of the process is self-regulated by the community. You can receive professional training or self-train your service dog but it is important to understand that professional training is not requirement to register a service dog.
Step 3: Register and Certify Your Service Dog in Massachusetts
In both the United States and Massachusetts, there is no official government-mandated registry for service dogs, and possession of a service dog certificate is not compulsory by law. It is important to note that any registry claiming to be government-affiliated is likely to be misleading. Additionally, business owners and government officials are not permitted by law to request proof of registration, training, or licensing as a prerequisite for access to public establishments.
The only two questions that are permissible for you to be asked about your Service Dog in Massachusetts 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 required to be ask.
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.
Service dogs should also always be easily identifiable as such by the use physical markers such as bandanas or collars so that the public can quickly confirm service dog status without having to interact directly with a handler.
Where Are Service Dogs Permitted in Massachusetts?
State and federal laws require businesses to permit service dogs in the same areas that are open to the general public. Exceptions are only made in situations where the presence of a service dog poses a threat to public health that outweighs the benefits that the individual receives from the service dog. In the state of Massachusetts, service dogs in training have the same access rights as service dogs, but they must wear a physical marker that identifies them as service dogs in training.
While individuals with service or guide dogs cannot be charged additional fees for having their animals on the premises, they can be held responsible for any damages that their dogs cause. A place of public accommodation can only exclude a service animal if the animal is not under control or is not housebroken, and the handler fails to take appropriate measures to address the situation. If exclusion is necessary for these reasons, the public place must provide the individual with a disability with an opportunity to access its goods, services, and accommodations without requiring the presence of the service animal on the premises.
The service animal laws in Massachusetts are similar to federal laws, with one exception. Service animals in training have the same access rights as fully trained service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in places of public accommodation and government programs, provided that they are housebroken, under control, and not a threat. It is a good idea, and required in some states, that service animals in training be clearly identifiable through the use of a physical marker such as a bandana.
Emotional Support Animals in Massachusetts
Emotional Support Animals are also not considered to be Service Animals in Massachusetts. 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.
If someone is eligible for an Emotional Support Animal, they may be entitled to reasonable accommodations, such as being exempt from a “no pets” policy or size and weight restrictions. Nonetheless, a housing provider may set practical requirements on approvals for these animals, such as ensuring that they are supervised while on the premises or that the occupant or someone else is responsible for cleaning up after them.
Register your support dog online now to receive your instant Service Dog Registration, Service Dog certificate and Service Dog Certification Documents or Register your Emotional Support Animal for ESA Registration, ESA Certification and Emotional Support Animal Certificate Documents