Having a Service Dog in North Carolina can greatly enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities by providing essential assistance. In North Carolina , individuals with disabilities who need the assistance of a service animal have the right to bring their service dog along with them to almost all public places. Service Dog in North Carolina are allowed to accompany their handlers in almost all areas where the general public is permitted, with some exceptions, such as sterile hospital settings where their presence could pose a threat to public health and Safety. Any breed is eligible to become a service dog at any age and no one breed is necessarily better than the other.
Definition of a Service Dog in North Carolina
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 Under the ADA, public places may not discriminate against people with disabilities who utilize service dogs to assist them. Various locations can be categorized as places of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, bars, cinemas, sports arenas, grocery stores, and other retail shops. Additionally, hospitals, healthcare provider offices, laundromats, gas stations, banks, public transportation stations, museums, libraries, private schools, and facilities for recreation or exercise can also be classified as public accommodations.
According to the North Carolina General Assembly, every person with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a Service Dog in North Carolina trained to assist the person with his or her specific disability in any of the places listed in G.S. 168-3, and has the right to keep the service animal on any premises the person leases, rents, or uses
Registering a Service Dog in North Carolina
Even though there is no mandatory registration for a service dog in North Carolina, some handlers choose to carry identification to avoid disputes with people who question the validity of their Service Dog in North Carolina. As per federal law, any dog that meets the definition of a Service Dog in North Carolina outlined by the ADA is considered to be a legitimate service dog. This means that a dog that has undergone specialized training to assist a person with a disability can be acknowledged as a Service Dog in North Carolina.
The process to register is straightforward, just follow these three steps:
- Identify the right service dog for your disability
- Ensure proper training
- Register and certify your Service Dog in North Carolina
Step 1: Identify the Right Service Dog in North Carolina for Your Disability
Although any dog breed can serve as a service dog, certain breeds possess unique traits and instincts that make them better suited for particular tasks. Examples of tasks that a service animal may perform include:
- assisting a person with low vision or blindness with navigation and other duties
- alerting a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual to sounds or people
- providing non-violent protection or rescue work
- pulling a wheelchair
- helping someone during a seizure
- alerting an individual to allergens
- retrieving medicine or the telephone
- providing physical support and stability for those with mobility disabilities
- preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors for individuals with psychiatric or neurological disabilities.
Step 2: Ensure Proper Training
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 North Carolina
There is no government-mandated registry for service dogs in the United States or North Carolina and possessing a service dog certificate is not obligatory or required by law. Any registry claiming to be government-affiliated is likely misleading. By law, business owners and government officials are not authorized to demand evidence of registration, training, or licensing as a prerequisite for entry into public establishments.
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 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 Dog in North Carolina 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. The state of North Carolina also provides that service dogs in training are provided with the same access rights as service dogs, however, service dogs in training must wear a physical marker identifying it as a service dog in training.
Although a person with a service or guide dog cannot be required to pay extra for having a service or guide dog on the premises, they can be held liable for any damage that the dog causes to the premises.
A place of public accommodation can only exclude a service animal if the animal is not under control or if it is not housebroken, and the handler does not take appropriate measures to address the situation. If the exclusion is necessary for one of these reasons, the public place must provide the person with a disability an opportunity to receive its services, goods, and accommodations without requiring the service animal to be present on the premises.
Emotional Support Animals in North Carolina
Emotional Support Animals in North Catolina are also 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.
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 now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog Identification and Certification.