# 53 T.

10/12/97 RJM:SBO:kgf DJ# 192-06-00029 October 26, 1992

Ms. Corey Hudson Executive Director Canine Companions for Independence 4350 Occidental Road P.O. Box 446 Santa Rosa, California 95402-0446 Dear Ms. Hudson: This is in response to your letter concerning service animals under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We apologize for the delay in responding. The ADA authorizes the Department to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding how the ADA may apply to public accommodations. This technical assistance, however, does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of rights or responsibilities under the ADA and does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. Under section 36.302 of the enclosed title III rule, a public accommodation must make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination. A public accommodation must modify its policies to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability, unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration of the goods or services provided. These concepts are further discussed in section III-4.2000 of the enclosed title III technical assistance manual. As

defined in section 36.104, the term "service animal" includes any guide dog, signal dog (e.g., a "hearing dog"), or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. You asked how public accommodations will determine whether an accompanying animal is a service animal. The title III regulation does not permit public accommodations to require any type of identification or certification of status to be shown. Moreover, the fact that a particular State law may require the showing of identification is irrelevant for purposes of determining rights under the ADA. However, section 36.301(b) of the title III regulation permits a public accommodation to impose legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation of the public accommodation. Thus, a public accommodation may ask that the animal be removed when such removal is necessary for safe operation. You also asked about the relationship between title III and State laws. Title III does not preempt any State law, if that State law provides protection for individuals with disabilities at a level greater or equal to that provided by the ADA. As explained in section 36.103(c), the ADA does, however, prevail over any conflicting State laws, or those laws that provide lesser protection against discrimination. For example, assume that an individual with a disability, accompanied by a monkey as a service animal, enters a hotel in a State where the State law requiring access for service animals is limited to "guide dogs." Because this provision would result in a level of access that is less than that provided by title III, the hotel may not rely on the State law as a basis for prohibiting access for the monkey. A similar conclusion would apply to the situation you are concerned about, in which presentation of certification verifying the status as a service animal is a prerequisite to granting access to a place of public accommodation under a State law. Because the State law provides a level of access that is less than that provided by title III, the ADA would not permit the hotel to require presentation of such certification. I hope this information has been helpful to you. Sincerely,

Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division Enclosures (2)