A service dog is guiding his master with the words, laws for service dogs.

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Service dogs allow their owners to explore the world around them without fear. These furry companions serve their owners by providing sight, hearing, and mobility assistance. They even alert owners to changes in their health and are essential to their well-being. Unfortunately, people abuse the laws protecting service dogs, sometimes passing them off as pets. To deter this, many businesses crackdown and ban all animals. Texas recognizes active service dogs and has the following laws to ensure fair treatment.

Types of Service Dogs in Abilene

A dog is considered a service dog when it has been trained to perform a special action to protect and aid its owner. The following are recognized and protected as service dogs in the state of Texas:

  • Guide dogs
  • Hearing dogs
  • Mobility assistance dogs
  • Diabetic alert dogs
  • Seizure alert dogs
  • Seizure response dogs
  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Autism support dogs
  • Fetal alcohol service dogs

It is important to note that psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs are not equal. Psychiatric support dogs are designed to aid individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, extreme anxiety, and extreme depression by helping them feel safer and calmer in public. These dogs know when to guide their owners away from a potentially harmful situation.

While emotional support dogs also bring comfort to their owners, they are not specifically trained to guide their owners away from triggering situations. These dogs are also not required to undergo specific training. Texas does not recognize emotional support dogs as service dogs, and the laws do not protect them.

Texas Service Dog Laws

According to Texas state laws, service dogs and their owners have the following rights:

  • Owners have the right to bring their service animals onto public transportation
    • They are not required to pay an extra fee for the animal
    • The individual and his or her service dog are not to be separated under any circumstances
  • Service dogs have the right to accompany their owners into all public buildings and entertainment accommodations. This includes:
    • Restaurants
    • Hotels
    • Public transportation
    • Auditoriums
    • Convention centers
    • Theaters
    • Sports stadiums
    • Zoos
    • Public parks
    • Gyms
    • Amusement parks
    • Bowling alleys
    • Libraries
    • Museums
    • Hospitals
  • Individuals with a service dog may not be denied housing. This applies even if there is a no-pet rule for the property.
    • Property owners are in violation of the law if they refuse to lease or rent to an individual because of his or her service dog
  • Individuals hold the responsibility to keep their service animal under control at all times
    • Individuals will be held responsible for the actions of their service dog

Violation of these laws can lead to a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $300. Violators must also serve a minimum of 30 hours of community service.

While there are laws protecting service dogs, there are also laws protecting the public from dog bites. If you have been bitten by a dog, whether a pet or a service animal, you may be eligible for monetary compensation for medical expenses and damages. Juan Hernandez is one of the 2% of personal injury attorneys who is Texas Board certified in personal injury law. Call Hernandez Law Group, P.C. in Abilene today for a consultation.