There seems to have been an uptick in national news stories regarding strange service animals lately. This begs the question, do service animals and their owners have special rights under Louisiana law? It first must be stated that there is a legal difference between service and emotional support animals.
The Americans with Disabilities Act only recognizes and protects service animals. Service animals are dogs individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. The ADA was revised in 2010 and now states that only dogs are recognized as service animals. Under the ADA and Louisiana laws, service dogs must be allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of public facilities; however, the dogs must be under control.
The ADA provides that only two inquiries can be made as to service dogs (1) whether the dog is required because of a disability and (2) what work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform.
Louisiana service animal laws mirror the ADA closely. In Louisiana, a service animal is a dog who is trained to work or perform tasks for someone with a disability, whether physical or mental. Similar to the ADA, Louisiana law does not include protections for emotional support animals, and owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals on their premises.
In Louisiana, you may bring your service animal into any public accommodations, which includes:
- Streets and sidewalks
- Public buildings
- Public transportation
But what about condominiums and apartments? Louisiana Revised Statute §46:1954 provides that persons with a disability who have service dogs shall be entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations and shall not be required to pay extra compensation for such dog but shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or any person on the premises by such dog. For purposes of the statute “housing accommodations” means any immovable property, or portion thereof, which is used or occupied or is intended, arranged, or designed to be used or occupied as the home, residence, or sleeping place of one or more human beings, but shall not include any single family residence the occupants of which rent, lease, or furnish for compensation not more than one room therein.
In other words, while a disabled person is still responsible for their service dogs actions which may lead to damages, they cannot be in any way discriminated against for their service dogs and cannot even be charged extra fees. Violations of Louisiana’s Service Animal statutes can actually lead to a misdemeanor conviction and jail time.
If you have questions concerning Louisiana’s Service Animal statutes call Favret, Carriere, Cronvich today to schedule a consultation.