Massachusetts law about service animals

A compilation of laws, regulations, and web sources on the law of service, emotional support, and other assistance animals.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

Primary service animal law

  • MGL c.272, § 98A  Physically handicapped persons with dog guides; public places or conveyances

Other laws on service animals

Federal laws

40 U.S.C. § 3103 Admission of guide dogs or other service animals accompanying individuals with disabilities

42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

49 U.S.C. § 41705 Air carrier access act. Forbids discrimination in air travel on the basis of disability

Federal regulations

14 CFR 382 Nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in air travel

14 CFR 382.117 Must carriers permit passengers with a disability to travel with service animals?

28 CFR 35.104 Service animal, defined. Definition is limited to dogs.

28 CFR 35.136 Service animals. Rules re: service animals. 28 CFR 35.136 (i) provides guidance on the use of miniature horses in state and local government services.

28 CFR 36.104 Service animal, Defined. definition is limited to dogs.

28 CFR 36.302 Modifications provides guidance on the use of miniature horses in public accommodations

Web sources

About service and assistance animals, Mass. Office on Disabilities.
Persons with disabilities have the right to be accompanied by a service animal wherever the person is allowed to go.  In housing, persons with disabilities have a right to reasonable accommodations, including the right to keep an assistance animal.

An individual with a disability accompanied by a service animal may not be asked to provide documentation of a disability, to answer questions regarding his or her disability, or to have the service animal demonstrate its work.

Fair housing rights of individuals with disabilities, Mass. Attorney General
Under "Reasonable Accommodation," page says in part: "M.G.L. c.151B may require that an owner modify his/her 'no pets' policy as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability who requires the use of a service or emotional support animal because of the person's disability."

FAQs on emotional support animals, Michigan State University Animal Legal and Historical Center, 2015.
"An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal that is recognized as a "reasonable accommodation" for a person with a disability under the federal Fair Housing Act." Provides an overview of assistance animals in housing.

Frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA, US Dept. of Justice, 2015.
"The Department of Justice continues to receive many questions about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to service animals....This publication provides guidance on the ADA's service animal provisions."

Information about service animals, Mass. Attorney General
Common questions and answers about service animals in businesses, taxis and more

Service animal definition matrix: Air Carrier Access Act vs. Americans with Disabilities Act, US Dept. of Transportation.
Highlights differences in laws. For example, emotional support animals are service animals under the Air Carrier Access Act, but not under the ADA.

Service animals: Where are they allowed and under what conditions?, ADA National Network

Service animals fact sheet, US Dept. of Justice
"This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s new regulations."

Print sources



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: November 12, 2019