Attorney General: Service Animals and the ADA

Connecticut Attorney General's Office

News Release

Blumenthal Issues Advisory to Businesses Relating to
Americans with Disabilities Act

Friday, July 26, 1996

People using service animals such as "seeing eye dogs" cannot be discriminated against by private businesses and are legally entitled to public accommodations, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said today in an advisory to Connecticut businesses.

In a letter to business groups marking the sixth anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Blumenthal and a U.S. Department of Justice official provided basic information about the ADA and answered questions relating to service animals such as seeing eye dogs.

"Discrimination against the disabled -- anytime, anywhere -- is unacceptable in any form," Blumenthal said. "Today, on the sixth anniversary of the ADA, we reiterate and expand upon that message. When Americans with disabilities use service animals to assist them in their daily lives, we must work to ensure that their owners have the rights they deserve and retain their ability to access places of public accommodation."

A service animal is any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal. Other service animals assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their daily activities. Examples include alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

"We are pleased to work with Attorney General Blumenthal to educate citizens about the ADA. This is the first of many cooperative efforts to ensure the rights of people with disabilities," said Deval Patrick, Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights.

Under the ADA, privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

"Discrimination against people with service animals violates the spirit and the letter of state law as well as the ADA," Blumenthal said. "As in other areas of law, my office has sought to prevent violations of the law first, before punishing violators. To that end, we hope this advisory will go a long way toward educating the business community about service animals and the related rights of their owners."

The advisory provides information about what an establishment owner must allow under the law, businesses' responsibilities under the laws, examples of certain violations of the ADA and state laws and answers to a series of questions on the subject.

For more information, businesses may also contact:

  • The U.S. Department of Justice's toll-free, ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).
  • The Attorney General's Office at 860-808-5318 or by writing 55 Elm Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106.
  • The State Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities at 800-842-7303 or, for TDD users, 566-2102.
  • The State Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities at 860-541-3400.

A copy of the question-and-answer advisory is being sent to Connecticut business groups and is available free of charge from the Attorney General's Office. Go to Questions and Answers About Service Animals

Blumenthal joined with more than 20 other attorneys general and the U.S. Justice Department in marking the anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act.