Empower Your Service Dog in Pennsylvania: How to Register with Confidence

Service Dog in Pennsylvania

Service Dog in Pennsylvania provide tremendous benefit to those living with disabilities and can measurably Improve the quality of your life. If you live in Pennsylvania and require the use of a service animal to assist you with a disability, you have the right to be accompanied by your service dog in almost any public area, with very few 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 risk to public safety. Furthermore, any breed is eligible to become a service dog.

Definition of a Service Dog in Pennsylvania

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 a Service Dog in Pennsylvania to assist them. Service Dog in Pennsylvania are permitted in all public areas, including:

  • Movie theaters and arenas
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Hotels
  • Public transportation and taxis
  • Shopping malls

Further, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act Provides that disabled handlers of service dogs are protected from discrimination in public accommodations and public facilities. Valid Emotional Support Animals are provided similar protections in the state of Pennsylvania as well.

Registering a Service Dog in Pennsylvania

While there are no mandatory registration requirements for a Service Dog in Pennsylvania, many handlers choose to possess physical identification to avoid disputes with third parties about the validity of service dog status. By federal law, any dog that meets the ADA’s definition of a service dog is a valid Service Dog in Pennsylvania. 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 in Pennsylvania.

The process is straightforward, just follow these three steps:

  1. Identify the right service dog for your disability
  2. Ensure proper training
  3. Register and certify your service dog

Step 1: Identify the Right Service Dog for Your Disability

While any dog breed is eligible to be a service dog, 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:

  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Eating disorders

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 official registry for service dogs in the United States or Pennsylvania and service dog certificates are not a formal requirement. Any service dog registry claiming to be government operated or sanctioned is likely to be 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:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What task has the animal been trained to perform?

If the task your dog is trained to perform is extremely obvious, then these questions are not permissible to 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.

Do I qualify for a support dog?

Take the support dog certification quiz now and you'll gain a better understanding of the type of assistance you require and the potential benefits of having a service dog registration or an emotional support animal registration.

Where is a Service Dog in Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania also provides that service dogs in training are provided with the same access rights as service dogs.

Emotional Support Animals in Pennsylvania

Emotional Support Animals 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.

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