Harmonization of Dog Guide Regulations
Resolution 2016-14
Whereas, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), as part of its comprehensive review and update of its regulations implementing Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), adopted important revisions to regulations pertaining to covered entities’ non-discrimination obligations concerning service animals; and
Whereas, among other things, these revisions make critical clarifications to current law concerning the kinds of animals that fall within the scope of the ADA’s protections and the circumstances in which such animals may be used; and
Whereas, the regulations of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) pertaining to service animals are in conflict with the DOJ regulations in, among other respects, their failure to apply the DOJ’s more restrictive definition of the term “service animal” which explicitly limits the types of animals which can serve as service animals to dogs and (in some instances) miniature horses; and
Whereas, the DOT’s current definition of the term “service animals” allows for the use of unusual and exotic animals; and
Whereas, the use of these uncommon and exotic animals creates a number of operational and enforcement challenges for transportation providers, a much higher potential for service animal fraud, and an increased risk of health and safety concerns for transportation provider employees and independent contractors, members of the public and legitimate service animal handlers and their animals; and
Whereas, having multiple legal definitions of the term “service animal” results in confusion for individuals who must enforce service animal regulations without inadvertently discriminating against legitimate service animal handlers even as the inconsistent regulations create a safe haven for people who fraudulently pass off their pets and exotic animals as service animals, thereby undermining the public’s acceptance of legitimate service animals, thereby eroding the hard-won rights of legitimate service animal handlers who need their animals for safe and independent travel; and
Whereas, consistent federal regulation of service animals should yield consistent and reliable compliance by all entities covered by such non-discrimination obligations; and
Whereas, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) adopted Resolution 2013-05 in July 2013, calling upon the Secretary of Transportation to direct the DOT to undertake an immediate review and revision of DOT’s rules concerning service animals to harmonize them with the DOJ service animal regulations; and
Whereas, the DOT has failed to resolve this matter;
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 8th day of July, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, that this organization direct its officers, directors and staff to pursue all appropriate strategies to achieve harmonization of the United States Department of Transportation’s service animal regulations with those of the United States Department of Justice.
Ray Campbell, Secretary