Disability rights for users of assistance animals, Mass. Office on Disability.
Provides an outline of the definitions, laws, rights, responsibilities and "relevant processes for service animals and emotional support animals in places of public accommodation, housing, transport and employment."
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. Only when the individual’s disability is not obvious, staff may ask the following two questions to determine whether an animal is a service animal:
- Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?
- What task or service is the animal trained to perform?
The law requires staff to take the individual at their word.
"Assistance animal owners in Massachusetts are not required to possess any certification or identification." However, "[a]ll dogs, whether pets or assistance animals, need to be registered with their town/city, but there is no official registry of assistance animals."
Primary service animal law
- MGL c.272, § 98A Physically handicapped persons with dog guides; public places or conveyances, penalties for denying accommodation
Other laws on service animals
- MGL c.90, § 14A Protection of blind pedestrians crossing or attempting to cross ways
- MGL c.129, § 39C Hearing dog business licensing
- MGL c.129, § 39D Hearing dog trainer rights
- MGL c.129, § 39F Service dog trainer rights
- MGL c.151B, § 4(6) Unlawful practices
Refusal to sell or rent to an individual who uses a guide dog for blind or hearing assistance is prohibited.
- MGL c.151C, § 2(e) Unfair practices
Schools may not exclude any student from admission because the student is blind or deaf or requires the use of a guide dog.
- MGL c.272, § 85B Assistance animals stolen or attacked, economic damages
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.
PAWS Act P. L. 117-37 (Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members for Veterans Therapy Act)
Helps provide veterans with dog training from non-governmental 501(c)(3) organizations by expanding the eligibility for veterans to receive funding to purchase a dog and requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement a grant program for the purpose of pairing service dogs with eligible veterans. Organizations that receive grants must provide veterinary health insurance coverage, hardware, and travel expenses for each service dog and veteran participating in the program. Implementation plan in Federal Register.
14 CFR 382 Nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in air travel
Under this rule, (382.3) only dogs can be service animals, and emotional support animals are no longer permitted.
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
FAQs on service and assistance animals in housing, Michigan State University Animal Legal and Historical Center, 2021.
"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.
File a civil rights complaint, Mass. Attorney General.
If you believe a company, business, organization has violated your rights, you can file a civil rights complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General's Office.
Frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2020.
"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."
Guidance on assistance animals under the Fair Housing Act, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
Provides guidance on how to assess a tenant's request to have an animal as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act. Sample letter of support for Emotional Assistance Animal.
How a reasonable accommodation request can help in public housing, MassLegalHelp.
Addresses the issue of service and emotional support animals in public housing.
Massachusetts law on service dogs and emotional support animals, Nolo.com.
Explains when and where service and emotional support animals are allowed.
Service animal resource hub, ADA National Network.
Covers the basics, the workplace, traveling, living, and emotional support animals.
Service animals, U.S. Dept. of Justice.
ADA.gov explains what businesses and state/local governments must do to make sure that they do not discriminate against a member of the public with a disability who uses a service animal.
Service animals, U.S. Dept. of Transportation.
Information about traveling with service animals on an airline, and forms that may be useful when traveling. The airlines are required to have the forms on their website in an easy to fill out format.
College and university law manual, MCLE loose-leaf, § 5.4.5. Accommodations for service animals in college housing and other campus activities.
Service animals & the law, MCLE, 2021.
Service animals under Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 12101 et seq. 53 ALR Fed 3d Art. 1. Includes notes to relevant cases.
Contact for Massachusetts law about service animals
|Last updated:||July 28, 2023|