Committee Reports

A Guide to the Use of Service Animals in New York State


People with disabilities may rely on dogs and other service animals to assist them at their homes and workplaces, schools, retail stores, restaurants, theaters and when traveling. However, there has been confusion both for those who use service animals and those who must accommodate them. The New York City Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association have released this guide jointly to help clarify the legal rights and obligations involving the use of service animals in the state.   The “Guide to the Use of Service Animals in New York State” recognizes that various federal, state and local laws address service animal use in differing manners. For example, depending on the context and the location, such as in housing, transportation, employment or places of public accommodation, in or outside of New York City, the definition of “service animal” may differ; it may be limited to a dog or extended to other animals, or it may not be limited at all.

The Guide is intended to clarify the existing laws for: individuals with disabilities who use service animals; those who train service animals; and those who must accommodate them, such as employers, landlords, merchants and places of public accommodation. It also offers guidance to lawmakers, government officials, attorneys and the courts.  The Guide provides a review of rights and remedies under comparative federal, state and local human rights laws.

The associations encourage the copying and distribution of the Guide. This Guide has been designed to facilitate reading by people with sight and other reading disabilities. Its primary form of distribution is on the Internet, accessible by screen reader technology. It is in 14 point Arial type. Those who use screen magnification programs can enlarge the Guide to suit individual needs. Alternatively, the Guide may be copied into Word and magnified there for printing.