Owning a service dog in Ohio can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, as they offer crucial support. In Ohio, individuals with disabilities who require the aid of a service animal are entitled to bring their service dog to almost all public places. Service dogs are permitted to accompany their handlers in nearly all locations where the general public is allowed, with only a few exceptions, such as sterile hospital environments where their presence could jeopardize public health and safety. Furthermore, any breed is eligible to become a Service Dog in Ohio at any age.
Definition of a Service Dog in Ohio
A Service Dog in Ohio 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 for Service Dog in Ohio.
The Ohio Administrative Code § 4112-5-06 prohibits public places from discriminating against individuals with disabilities by denying them the use of an animal assistant or charging them extra for it. The Code does not limit the protection to dog assistants, but includes any animal that aids a person with a disability, such as a hearing-alert dog, a guide dog for the visually impaired, or a monkey that helps a person with a mobility impairment. This means that individuals who require service animals other than dogs should also be protected under Ohio law while in public places.
Registering a Service Dog in Ohio
Although there is no requirement for service dogs to be formally registered in Ohio, many handlers opt to carry identification to prevent disagreements with others who may doubt the legitimacy of their service dog. According to federal law, any dog that fulfills the ADA’s definition of a service dog is considered to be a genuine service dog. Therefore, a dog that has been specifically trained to perform tasks to aid someone with a disability may be recognized as a service dog.
The process to register a Service Dog in Ohio is straightforward, just follow these three steps:
- Identify the right service dog for your disability
- Ensure proper training for your Service Dog in Ohio
- Register and certify your Service Dog in Ohio
Step 1: Identify the Right Service Dog 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 required.
Step 3: Register and Certify Your Service Dog
There is no government-mandated registry for service dogs in the United States or Ohio and possessing a service dog certificate is not obligatory. Any registry claiming to be government-affiliated is likely fraudulent. 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 in Ohio 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 Dog in Ohio 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 is a Service Dog in Ohio Permitted?
State and Federal laws states that business are required to allow Service Dog in Ohio 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 Ohio also provides that service dogs in training are provided with the same access rights as service dogs.
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 Ohio
Emotional Support Animals are also not considered to be Service Animals in Ohio. 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