New definition for service animals concerns some

March 21, 2011 5:10:33 PM PDT
A new definition for service animals has caused real concern. The new ADA rules say a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that is trained to perform a specific task. That means many emotional wellness animals no longer qualify.

The new ADA definition does not apply aboard commercial aircraft, at least not yet. The Department of Transportation allows emotional needs service animals. As long as the passenger has a health care professional's note and has given the airline at least 48 hours notice the airline can wave those rules but it cannot make up its own.

In California, the state says federal law serves as a floor and not a ceiling. That additional rights and protections can be afforded when it comes to housing.

The state is still looking at the area of public accommodations like stores, restaurants and airports and has not yet issued its interpretation of the new rules.

The city of San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability is holding a public hearing to inform and get information from the public.

Have a Support or Service Animal? Come talk about your experiences, and learn about your rights and responsibilities!
Access to the public for people with service animals has been a controversial issue for many in our community, and one of the most frequently confusing concepts in federal and state disability rights laws. In light of the updated Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and the additional questions that it has raised, the Mayor's Office on Disability will host a public meeting in City Hall in May, to create a public forum for all stakeholders involved. We invite people with all types of service animals and especially people with emotional support / assistance / companion animals to tell us their stories and help us create a process that minimizes barriers and increases access for people with service and support animals in the City of San Francisco.

For updates on this issue and the upcoming meeting, please contact the Mayor's Office on Disability at 415.554.6789 voice, 415.554.6799 TTY or via email at mod@sfgov.org .


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