# 36 III- 4.

2300 July 31, 1992

The Honorable Martin Frost Member, U.S. House of Representatives NCNB Tower, Room 720 801 West Freeway Grand Prairie, Texas 75051 Dear Congressman Frost: This letter responds to your request on behalf of David L. Barber, Assistant City Attorney of Arlington, Texas, for information about the interpretation of "service animal" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities with rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist Mr. Barber in understanding the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a legal interpretation of the statute and it is not binding on the Department. As Mr. Barber notes, section 36.302 of the regulation issued by the Department of Justice under title III of the ADA requires that places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, retail establishments, offices of service providers, and hotels, modify their policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. Section 36.104 of the regulation defines a "service animal" as an animal that is "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability . . . ." Section 36.301 of the title III regulation does, however, allow a public accommodation to impose eligibility criteria that are necessary for the provision of services and facilities. In particular, paragraph (b) of that section allows for the imposition of

legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation of a facility or service. A copy of the title III regulation is enclosed. Mr. Barber inquires whether public accommodations can restrict the use of service animals to those that, along with their owners, have completed intensive individualized training in a specific area by an authority whose competence is recognized by rehabilitation agencies. Texas law defines "support dog" in this way. The Department's ADA regulation does not require that an animal be certified by a State or have a permit nor does it allow a State or public accommodation to require proof of training or certification. The Department is aware of a wide range of State regulatory definitions of service or support animal that are narrower than the ADA definition. While these definitions may be appropriate for State purposes, they cannot be used to narrow or eliminate the scope of the ADA's coverage. Mr. Barber expresses several concerns about animal behavior, including the possibility that any animal trained only by its owner (or by a person not specially qualified) is more likely to attack another service animal or person. In our view, such behavior is generally at odds with the concept of an individually trained service animal. In addition, because the ADA allows a public accommodation to impose eligibility criteria, including legitimate safety requirements, a public accommodation could generally exclude from its facility any animal that displays the kind of behavior mentioned, regardless of the kind of training it has received and what function it serves for its owner. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

John R. Dunne Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosure