Can the School Refuse to Allow a Service Dog?

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Service DogCan a school refuse a service dog for a child with behavior and emotional disability because they do not allow any pets?   The school does not want any animals on school property and is not permitting a service dog for my daughter.

Guidance on the Service Animal Provisions DOJ Regulations

This 2011 publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department of Justice final regulations (2010) implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for title II and title III.

How a Service Animal is Defined states: “Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.”

Special Rules Related to Service Animals states: “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.”

New Technical Assistance

The Department of Justice received so many questions about how the ADA applies to service animals, the DOJ published a 2015 FAQs document about Service Animals.

This new 8 page technical assistance documents states:

“The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle.

Accordingly, entities that have a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities.”

Check your State Regulations

States handle the question of service animals in school differently.

Virginia defines service dog as, “A dog trained to accompany its owner or handler for the purpose of carrying items, retrieving objects, pulling a wheelchair, alerting the owner or handler to medical conditions, or other such activities of service or support necessary to mitigate a disability.” Code of Virginia §51.5-44

Check your state regulations regarding service animals.

Filing a Complaint

When schools refuse to comply with this guidance publication, parents may file complaints with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Get Questions and Answers about OCR’s Complaint Process.

OCR has investigated cases where schools refused to allow service animals.

We are not aware of OCR supporting any school district’s position that they can discriminate against children over service animals.

This letter from OCR describes an investigation and OCR’s findings:

After reading these documents from the United States government, you will probably know more than most of the administrators at the school.

Consider –

  • making copies of these documents
  • providing them to the admins at the school

You will find this new guidance and more information about Discrimination: Section 504 and ADA here.

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What if the professor has a severe allergy to the service dog? Could the student be accommodated differently, either placed with a different instructor or given a human aide to accomplish the tasks the service dog is designated for when possible?

Otherwise, it would seem that the ADA would be in conflict with itself. The professor needs to breathe, the student needs the service dog. EEOC says that a disability must be accommodated when possible as well. Any other suggestions for resolving this scenario?


Hello! My friend has a service dog and there was an accident where he nipped at someone. The girl didn’t report it but the teacher did and the school declared that he was not to be brought back because of this. My friend though is destated . Is there training or some type or appeal that she maybe can do? I understand the college’s decision but I’m also really worried for my friends health. She has PTSD along with other disorders and the dog keeps her grounded and calm. The class was also a PE class, which movement seems to trigger him but I’m guess that’s from his training?


The district should have policies regarding service animals, and appealing decisions. Someone needs to request these.


I’m sorry but what did people do before service animals? I do not want any animal in schools much less in the classroom. If a child needs a service animal due to some type of behavior issues maybe you should consider medication instead of putting all the other kids in the school at risk. Let’s be honest a dog is still a dog and the potential to do harm is still there.


Fortunately federal law disagrees with you.


Mandy, have you been close to any trained, certified service dog? I have the feeling, my friend, that they can behave much better than you, or your kids. Also, have you considered taking some medication, yourself, for brain development and creation of the cells that hold smarts? Now, after the harsh comment, that is more intended as a joke, I seriously invite you to learn more about real service dogs, and to see them on action. And then come back and post again. Good luck.


Thankfully the law does disagree with you. Your statements draw many, many assumptions that are completely off base. I.e. not all issues that a service dog can assist with are treatable with medication (HFA, Aspergers, etc.) As far as animals in school, are laboratory mice ok? Legitimate service dogs pose absolutely no risk to other students. To the contrary, they tend to benefit the entire student population in many ways. I could go into details but shant for the sake of brevity. Let us just say you should do some homework before passing judgment on every dog in the nation. And to answer your question… before having service dogs, many remained locked up at home, surfing the net, achieving nothing, and contributing nothing to society. Now they are contributing successful people.


Finally someone who understands!! Me and my friends learning enviornment are always interrupted and distracted by these service animals, we are always worried that with all these animals on our campus someone might get hurt. An EDUCATIONAL ENVIORNMENT should NOT allow animals as it can greatly distract others from their right to their education and potentially do harm. There was a time when people leaned something called coping skills. People would cope with these problems and learn how to take care of themselves. UNfortunately federal liberal laws disagree.


I’m a month away from being 18 and I’m a senior in high school. I have a psychiatric service dog who also performs medical alerts. The school district will not allow me to bring her to school. I know well that this is illegal. They say she needs to be certified (NOT A THING IN MOST CASES). However, my family does not have the money to bring the school district to court. What were to happen if I just ignored them and brought my dog anyways? I need her with me at all times. It is for my safety. What do I do?


Elena, find “Valor Medical Service Dogs”, on social media. They do it for free to veterans and kids. You are still a child. They are here in Florida, but you can leave him or bring him. Ernie does a terrific job with dogs, and he is authorized to certify them. Free.


If your animal is a fully trained service animal, you are being discriminated against. Service dogs are exactly like other medical appliances such as wheelchairs. Contact local advocacy organizations such as your state Protection & Advocacy Office, Statewide Independent Living Council, and/or the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation who could get you on the right path.


My son has a service dog and was mainstreamed in general education. Son has anxiety, ADHD, and the dog alerts him when he feels an anxiety attack coming on. However for the upcoming school year the school has decided and sent me notice that the dog may not come with my son to school. Their reasoning is other kids might be scared and their are a few that are allergic. I understand some people can be allergic but what about my son’s right to be educated? He has the right to have a service dog. I really like his teacher next year can I ask that the other kids be removed and placed in a different classroom?


You have NO right to disrupt the education of the other children by asking for them to be moved just because you like your child’s teacher! You only get input on your own child.


Technically she’s not disrupting the other children’s education. They are just being moved to a different class. If they are the issue causing her son to not be able to bring his service animal (which we don’t know the extent of his disabilities) then it is putting him in danger. In my opinion it’s better for them all.


Why can’t her child move to the other class? Why does she get to say who has to move to accommodate her son’s needs when those needs could be met in another classroom (she just doesn’t want to change him because she likes the teacher).


Allergies and fear are NOT excuses to deny a service dog.
Your son does have the right to an education and to have his service dog.
In order to move forward, I recommend setting up a meeting with the principle and your son’s teacher to work out a plan that works for everyone. It would be the schools decision whether they move your son or another student, however you can always request your son stay with that teacher but remember that it might not be an option.


ETK: There are people who are deathly allergic to dogs which is where I think the school is coming from. Don’t those people matter too? My son need up last year with a teacher he did not like and could not be with his friends because of a person with a service dog. It was heartbreaking to see that the school did not care at all about my son. He ended up having a horrible year. I guess that does not matter to anyone but me.


Im assuming you haven’t read the law thought because it states VERY clearly that Alergies and fears are not a good enough reason to denie a service dog. and switching any of the students doesn’t have to happen service dogs have to be superbly clean usually people are alergic to the fur or dander that they have but Service dog handlers will bather there dogsany where from 1-3 times a week making that problem far less likely. I am an adult with a service dog and know my rights and ada law it states your service dog as long as its specifically trained to do tasks. Is allowed and has to be accomidated in any PUBLIC setting where the public goes I can go.


do i have a 504 plan on a service dog?


We looked at a private placement for my daughter. She has a service dog. We informed the school and they said they don’t have to accept her. Can this school do this? It is a private school.


I believe that if the school is accepting Title 1 money which is public money than they cannot discriminate and not take your child. If they don’t receive that type of money than they can make that decision. You may need to contact your state parenting and training information center.


it isn’t illegal to bring a therapy dog to school for the students disability its illegal to refuse the dog there for u can sue them


Do i have to have a 504 plan for my service dog to accompany me to school (high school) PSD


No , you may have one to help you but you don’t need one , the school may try to force one on you , they may also ask for certification paper , they can’t do that don’t let them


If a student (asking for a friend) has a therapy dog, can the parent legally take away or not allow the dog to go with the student to school when they need it? Like if the parent doesn’t own the therapy dog but the student does?

Just A Mom

Is the child over the age of 18? If so, the child owns the therapy dog. Under the age of 18, a parent or guardian is the legal owner **as far as I’m aware**.
A parent can choose not to give their child their prescribed ADHD medications. It isn’t endangering their life.
A parent would be at great risk of losing their parental rights if they denied the child life saving medications such as asthma, epi-pen for severe allergy, organ transplant anti rejection, or diabetic/insulin medication.


Therapy dogs are not service dogs and have no rights as such , and legally i believe that the dog is technically the parents until they are 18 and state that they are giving the dog to them


Let me just tell you reading this enraged me. Allergies to dog dander can be deadly for some people! I think it’s awful that people who suffer with terrible allergies to these critters are forced in to being in stores, schools, planes, everywhere, because dogs have gone from leading the blind to being a crutch for just about every disability out there. My daughter’s aunt died at 52 years old from walking in to a home with two cats! Full blown asthma attack she could never recover from, dying 9 times in the ambulance and another person in my family is so allergic to both dogs and cats that if she gets even in the same vicinity it could kill her. Her brain swells, breathing problems, anaphalaxis. The laws need to be changed with this and changed now! This is very dangerous for some people!


No one is forcing people to be in the same place as service dogs. People need service dogs for a very important reason. to alert to an on coming seizure, ptsd attack, epilepsy, anxiety attack, mobility, pots and so much more. Service dogs give people freedom and the laws aren’t changing any time soon.


No-one is forcing them to be there, The person can tell a handler with a service dog about their allergy and the handler will most likely understand. People need service animals for very important reasions. I have severe anxiety and suffer from depression. My service dog alerts me before I have an anxiety attack because I throw fits, can hurt myself and can faint. Service dogs aren’t here just for everyone with a disability, Alot of people with disabilities also don’t have service animals. Service dogs are very high standard trained animals that are part of the handlers life.


wha do you have to do to bring your service dog to school


This comment enraged me…. I require a service dog to be able to leave my home. If you are allergic to dogs you may let the handler know. Service dog handlers are well aware that people can be injured from dog allergies, but we need to know if you do. Once we are told of the allergy we will do our best to keep distance from you.


No one is forcing them to be in the same place as a service animal. Schools do alert students with allergies about the service animal and if they are really that “allergic” even the slightest amount of dog hair from a dog owner could kill them and they would be dead by now. I think I would rather love and be alerted than die because someone else can’t move.


This was not an appropriate response. NO service dogs are NOT a crutch for everything and anything there’s requirements to meet for the disability to even get a service dog. My service dog has brought my independence back this is insulting and businesses and all entities should make accommodations for both. I do not have to leave due to my disability and medical equipment. U can chose to leave due to ur allergies but I don’t hve to leave because I had a different style of medical equipment. I wouldn’t be alive today without my service dog, she’s saved my life on MANY occasions and improves my life every single day for the rest of the public to disrespect her and I because of some stupid complaint they have. If ur alergic and see a SD team leave or stay away?!?! Like what common sense.


No, a service animal should not be brought if the OWNER cannot respect others rights to an undistracted learning enviornment.


But also someone can die without a service dog


No one is forcing anybody to do anything. So your saying that those allergies override someone else’s needs for a service dog that helps them to do things they aren’t able to do? You can leave with allergies my granddaughter has no other options for her life or to be able to perform these activities on her own. She is unable to eat properly, chew, speak, control hand movements, go to the bathroom, hold objects, or anything on her own. She CAN’T leave anywhere on her own, people with disabilities can. I understand allergies, my daughter has a life threatening allergy to cinnamon, and my sister also has severe allergies, but it is outrageous to think that a service dog is just there for show and not severely needed. My granddaughter needs it to make it through life, and can’t leave.


You do realize that service dog handler’s take care to ensure that their dogs limit the impact on the places they go? I brush mine three times a day and take care to make sure she is clean so she won’t spread much dander.

Beyond that, many handlers *need* the dogs. Mine has saved my life several times already. It’s not a decoration. It’s medical equipment that is not only expensive, but crucial to the handler’s life and/or independence.


you should always be aware that people may have service dogs or pets and if you have allergies you obviously find another way because risking another persons death isnt good either


Cats not dogs. As a fellow service dog user I can tell you that these dogs are here to make our lives easier and help us live our daily lives and if someone has a problem they can leave or get an epi-pen


I agree…like seriously, get an epi-pen (if you’re that allergic you should have one any way in case you breath near someone covered in dog hair)this makes me so mad, especially because I have to have a service dog


Are you kidding me , maybe she should’ve been more equipped to handle her asthma there are medications and allergy medications You can’t expect people not to take their pets outside for walks my service dog keeps me safe I’m sorry that people are allergic if you see my service dog and you’re allergic to or walk out


Are charter schools allowed to deny service dogs?


Any school that doesn’t receive funding from the government can deny service dog


I have a service dog and my principal said I had to have a doctors note and her vet papers and all my medical paperwork I think he shouldn’t be able to ask for it he said I had to do this so the school board can decide to let her be in school with me when I’m medically unstable to do my daily tasks without her


They cannot ask for paper work but it is reasonable to ask for the vet papers. You do not need to get your medical papers at all.


Actually they need to ask for the handlers medical paperwork because, sadly, there are far to many people claiming that they need a service dog just so they can take their dog to school with them. Providing the paper work means that they know your not lying or faking and actually need them there. It’s just something most schools do to prevent untrained or unneeded animals in the school.


Actually it would be in the IEP, and already a part of the medical records, and if it isn’t should be put into the IEP so as to allow for the service animal. You are not required to otherwise show medical records if it is in the IEP.


IEP is a plan for academic deficiencies. A 504 plan is for medical.


It is still illegal to ask


Can a school district in Texas request paperwork from the doctor, have the dog pass a test for a committee and also have an ADA committee to determine if a diabetic service dog is allowed to accompany a teacher?


I have a service dog for sudo seizures and when I have one he lets someone know so they can help me and the school won’t allow me to have him anymore… they have kicked me out multiple times for him what should I do


If it’s a privet or magnet school they have the right to do that depending on your state laws. If it’s a public school then you can sue them. It’s against government laws, which they have to follow because they are funded by the government, for them to kick you out because of your service animal.


My service animal is a dog and it’s task is if I start to faint or have anxiety attack. They are saying it’s not a service dog. I got a video on it and proof of it and every thing. They’re saying that some one is allergic to my service animal when that person don’t have to go near it and they said it can go out of control when it is a service animal. so can I turn them in for that..yes or no? thank you


Yes! You may even file a law suite for discrimination! Please push to keep your Service Animal!


If the dog is for emotional support or comfort, yes they can.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
ADA Requirements: Service Animals –


I’m not sure why schools have so many problems with service dogs, however they do. My son’s school won’t even allow his service dog on campus for two minutes that it takes me to walk to his class and pick him up. Every time I get the ok to bring his dog its great for two-three days, then they send someone else to tell me to leave. The school even went as far as having a police officer ask me to leave. The schools really make trying to help our children a very difficult task even more than normal. I have now gone to the school board and hopefully we get better results this time.

Service Dog Mom & Handler

This is blatantly illegal. Call the disability rights folks in your area/state, call the news media, call the attorney general, call the Office for Civil Rights. Ask the police officer why s/he is failing to uphold your son’s right to have his service dog accompany him anywhere the public is permitted. Even if you aren’t seeking to have the dog accompany him to school all day every day the next family might wish to do so.

Please take a step, make a start and “pay it forward,”


I am being told that my 9 year old child can bring his dog but that the dogs trained handler cannot enter the classroom. My son is developmentally delayed and can not control his dog at this stage of his life. So they want me to leave the child at school with the dog. Nobody at the school had been trained with the dog. My child has not been able to go to school since 1st day. His backpack is full of his new school supplies and he has his new shoes and waits all day with his superman backpack to go to school. It is MEDICALLY unsafe for the dog and handler to be separated. No one knows the dogs commands or signals the dog is making for my son. They would have to go through extensive training to learn that. We have no choice and no voice.


Make this request again in writing to the principal. If the answer is still no, you can appeal this up the chain of command, following the district’s policy on appeals.


It is the district in the attorney that are not allowing him in the school so it is to the highest people possible at this time


Having a service dog for my daughter is a far, far away dream to come true. I can’t afford financially to have one. My daughter is 11 years old and has diabetes type 1. I help her as much as I can. She knows what to do depending on her situation, but what if she can’t help herself because her sugar is low? Well, I compare myself with a service dog and please don’t misunderstand me.
I’m so happy that service dogs are allowed everywhere now because of their amazing job they can do.
This year 2016 I requested to the School District Director Of special needs students to let me volunteer helping my own daughter during the State Test. They said yes but really didn’t let me because I would cause Chaos!!! I’m the mom and wasn’t allowed to stay.


I look forward to the day your beautiful daughter has her freedom and you have peace of mind that comes with a service dog! Are you aware that you can self train a service dog? The personality testing for the dog can be done to see if the dog or puppy is going to even be a potential SD and you would add some nose work to the test too. All of the information you need is on reputable websites for choosing, bonding & training. Now, for the diabetic part you can employ assistance, as well as, use the books and sites available. Your dream really isn’t too far away


Thank you Robyn!
I appreciate your kind words