A service animal is a working animal, not a pet. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Dogs that satisfy this definition are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government, or any other entity. Here are some examples of tasks a service animal might perform:
- Assisting with navigation, or stability and balance;
- Alerting to sounds or allergens;
- Pulling wheelchairs, carrying and retrieving items;
- Seizure assistance;
- Interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
Under the ADA and New York law, facilities that serve the public may not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. In addition, they must permit a service animal in all areas of the facility where patrons are allowed or the public is invited.
Library staff are not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal and are not required to provide food or a special location for the animal. The service animal must be under the control of its handler at all times.
A public accommodation provider cannot ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability and may not demand proof that the animal is certified. However, if it is not readily apparent that a dog is a service animal, they may ask, (1) if the animal is required because of a disability, and/or (2) what work the animal has been trained to perform.
Approved by the Scarsdale Public Library Board of Trustees July 2020