Attachment P Information on Service Animals







What is a service animal?









The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as ” any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability.” Hawaii law has a similar, but more specific definition. It relates only to dogs which assist people with disabilities. Hawaii law does not include reference to service “animals.”


graphic of a man holding a leashed dog




    • A “guide dog” assists a person who is blind or who has low vision. The animal provides mobility guidance within the community.

    • A “signal (hearing) dog” assists people with hearing loss. The animal may perform functions such as alerting persons to sounds such as the doorbell, phone ringing, emergency sirens or other abnormal environmental sounds.

    • A “service dog” or “service animal” assists people with mobility and other disabilities. The animal may assist people with mobility impairments by pulling wheelchairs, picking up items, carrying items or assisting persons with balance.




A service animal is not a pet. Furthermore, a service animal must perform specific functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. An animal which merely provides companionship and which is not trained to perform tasks is not a service animal, but a pet.


How can I tell if an animal is really a service or assistance animal and not a pet?


Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual generally is not required to show documentation as a condition for providing service to the individual when accessing a government site. Some exceptions are for housing or restricted access areas.


March 2008                 Attachment P, Page 1
        Disability and Communication Access Board


If you have a concern, ask the person the following:



“Is this a service animal required because of your disability?”



If the person answers yes, you should generally accept his or her word as proof unless the animal’s behavior indicates otherwise.


What can you expect from a service animal and his or her owner?


Although a service animal is not necessarily harnessed, it is reasonable to expect that the service animal will remain under the control and direct supervision of the person with a disability and not stray unattended in the facility or site. Otherwise, the animal is not performing its function as an “aide” for the person with a disability. Under state law, if the service animal is a dog, it should be on a leash.


You can expect appropriate, non-disruptive behavior from a service animal. You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not, based on your past experience with other animals, make assumptions about how a particular animal is likely to behave. Each situation must be considered individually.


Although you may exclude any service animal that is out of control, you should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy your goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.


You can expect a person with a disability to care for their service animal. The care or supervision of a service animal is the responsibility of his or her owner. You, as a state department or agency, are not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal. However, it is helpful to have an appropriate location designated where a person may be directed to take his or her service animal if the animal needs to be relieved.


March 2008                 Attachment P, Page 2
Disability and Communication Access Board