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Service v. Support

Is there an ADA / FHA conflict? HINT: you don't want your name on a test case!

New Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidance makes some clear distinctions between specially trained 'service' animals and other animal assistants so called: "support animals".

This distinction doesn't hold in Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) cases.

Now FHA type interpretation (no distinction based on 'training') is upheld in Section 504 cases where a recipient of Federal Funds has tried to make a distinction between Service v. Support animals.

More like a blankie?
Thanks to PaulW for calling RHINO's attention to this article which degrades the status of "support animals".   The author does give clear examples of the confusion caused by new Americans with Disabilities (ADA) regs, but in the process ridicules the very idea of support animals.   So here's some facts.
Americans with Disabilities Act which covers public accommodations eg. supermarkets and other places of business does require that service animals have special training.
Fair Housing Guidance which covers residential premises does NOT have that requirement and explicitly says so.  Please help owners, managers and tenants to understand that their rights and duties under the Fair Housing Act are different than a shopkeeper's duties under ADA.
Here's the outrageous article 

 April 2013 HUD guidance affirms distinction between ADA and Fair Housing/Section 504 rules  (see attached "HUD notice on RA for animals" at the bottom on this page)
The Department of Justice's (DOJ) amendments to its regulations' for Titles II and III of the ADA limit the definition of "service animal" under the ADA to include only dogs, and further define "service animal" to exclude emotional support animals. This definition, however, does not limit housing providers' obligations to make reasonable accommodations for assistance animals under the FHAct or Section 504. Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, under both the FHAct and Section 504.

In Housing follow the Pratt guidance on support animals.


This memo explains that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent amendments to its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations do not affect reasonable accommodation requests under the Fair Housing Act (FH Act) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 (Section 504). The DOJ’s new rules limit the definition of “service animal” in the ADA to include only dogs. The new rules also define “service animal” to exclude emotional support animals. This definition, however,does not apply to the FHAct or Section 504. Disabled individuals may request a reasonable accommodation for assistance animals in addition to dogs,including emotional support animals,under the FH Act or Section 504. In situations where both laws apply, housing providers must meet the broader FHAct/Section 504 standard in deciding whether to grant reasonable accommodation requests.

Pratt memo is attached at the bottom of this page



 Notes & Links

Two court decisions attached at the bottom of the page

News stories about support animals
riverpark apartments, athens

mercy medical center

university of nebraska






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Spencer Wells,
Mar 8, 2012, 10:48 AM
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Spencer Wells,
Nov 7, 2013, 11:17 AM
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Spencer Wells,
Mar 8, 2012, 10:40 AM
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Spencer Wells,
Mar 8, 2012, 10:40 AM
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