MOD often hears from people with disabilities who have paid a fee in order to obtain a “certification” or “registration” for their service animal or emotional support animal (ESA) in order to get permission to have the animal in housing or other places that do not allow animals. We thought we would clarify the status of these so-called certifying bodies and explain what would be considered sufficient documentation that an animal is needed because of a disability.
Last week, we highlighted some new guidance on service animals from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In this second post in our series on service animals, we will aim to clear up confusion surrounding the different categories of animals that assist persons with disabilities. MOD consistently gets calls from individuals who benefit from the assistance or company of an animal. Callers often refer to any animal that mitigates or relieves their disability limitations as a “service animal.” However, technically not all animals that benefit a person with a disability are service animals. Service animals are specifically defined by and are subject to different laws than other animals that provide companionship and or emotional support to persons with disabilities.
The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) regularly responds to service animal related questions from the public. So, we are pleased to share a new update with you. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published new, comprehensive guidance entitled “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Service Animals and the ADA” on July 13, 2015. The FAQ addresses the application of the law in areas that were previously unclear and is unique in that it is the first guidance to discuss specific questions asked by the public about service animals. Here are some highlights that our staff consider particularly noteworthy.
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