How do I Know if a Dog is a Service Dog?

Most on-duty service dogs wear an identifying marker, such as a vest, scarf, or tag. However, this is not always the case. If you see a dog in an area where pets are not allowed, you should first assume it is a service dog. If you are responsible for the area where you find the dog (for example, if you are a clerk in a store) you may ask these three questions:

1. Are you disabled?

2. Is that a service dog?

3. What task is the dog trained to perform that helps you?

The person does not need to disclose the nature of his or her disability, or provide you with documentation. These rules apply to all public places. Private clubs, intensive care units in hospitals, some types of zoos or wild animal parks, and some private institutions are some of the places that may not be defined as "public" when considering service dog access.  However, as a general rule, a service dog may go wherever its handler may go.  It is important to remember that the dog, itself, has no rights to access.  It is the person with disabilities for whom the dog is trained (and in some states the dog's trainer while working with the dog) who has the right to be accompanied by the dog. 

Due to the separation of church and state, churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship, as well as areas controlled by them, such as meeting halls, (with some exceptions) are not defined as "public" for this purpose. These places may choose to allow, or not allow, access to service dogs. For more details on what areas are defined as "public" - or any other questions regarding service dog access - please contact your state attorney general's office.