Regional Laws and Ordinances

City/County ADA officer

I am finding this difficult. In the more rural counties of the South, you may have to instead consult with whoever works for the city that is the county seat. There are also local and regional disability advocacy groups that would be a better (and faster) resource.

Southeast ADA Center that has listings for various states’ ADA centers and groups, including states outside the southeast area. The Southeast ADA Center is part of ADATA. Both resources would assist you in finding what you need to do locally about a denial of service or other issue regarding access with your Service Dog.

Animal Control / Animal tag office

This is a no-brainer. Your Service Dog is a dog. If it needs a tag or license, just like all the other dogs in your city or county, then get it. The difference is when any other dog is NOT made to get a tag or license but your Service Dog is. The ADA does not require a special tag that identifies your dog. You should not be asked to show one nor to purchase one. Federal law supersedes state law if the federal law is either more strict (as in punishment) or more lenient (as in rights). For example, the state of North Carolina has an obscure tag reference in their books. But the tag is only given to dogs that come from a program or is trained by a professional since that information must be on the paperwork filed. This means a PWD who has owner-trained their dog cannot get one. This would not be an issue (since one is not needed and requiring one for access is against the federal law) except businesses have somehow heard of this tag and want to see it. Explaining to them why you do not have it is interesting.

Speaking of tags, make sure your dog is microchipped! And make sure the information on the chip is correct. Every few years or so, have your vet’s office scan your dog to make sure the chip is still scan-able or at least in the right place. They can wander quite a distance!

Emergency Preparedness

Just like with any other situation, even natural disasters mean you can have your Service Dog with you at all times. Even in a shelter that is not allowing pets, your Service Dog is not a pet. It is, essentially, a piece of medical equipment. Planning ahead can be helpful, however. After Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita smacked the Gulf coast, the US Powers That Be realized they had a problem. Many people didn’t leave because there was nothing in place to take care of pets. They could not take them to the shelters. They could not take them to hotels. So they stayed home. And they died. Or they had to be rescued at great risk and cost. As a result, in 2006 the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act was signed into law.

AVMA PETS Act information page
– Animal Law website PETS Act Detailed Discussion paper

In terms of general emergency preparedness:
American Red Cross – Pet Emergency Preparedness – both you and your SD need paperwork to keep on hand for if you had to evacuate. Veterinarian information, updated vaccination record, etc. Also check out their information for people with disabilities.

FEMA – Pets/Service Animals Preparedness (pdf)

Check with your local disability rights group to see what else you can do to ensure that not only do you know what to do in a disaster, but that emergency services know you may need extra assistance. This is especially true if you rely on electricity and/or equipment. Make sure they all know you have a Service Dog and that you and that dog are not to be separated.

Fair Housing Act assistance/reporting

Who/what else?

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