Ask ECRI: Service Animals, Assistance Animals, and Housing Policies Addressing Pets

May 10, 2016 | Aging Services Risk Management


​​A Continuing Care Risk Management (CCRM) member has asked about how service or assistance animals fit in with housing policies that restrict pets or certain kinds of animals, such as "no pets" or "no dogs" policies, on an aging services campus.

This is a tricky issue from many angles. Aging services organizations do not want to run afoul of laws prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities by denying access to service or assistance animals, yet they want solid ground to stand on if other residents object to the presence of the animal or wonder why they can't have a pet, too. Often, organizations do not want to create a slippery slope and find themselves deviating far from their general "no pets" policy.

Three federal laws are particularly relevant to this issue: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a very helpful notice regarding the application of these three laws to service and assistance animals in housing. The guidance articles Americans with Disabilities Act: An Overview and The Fair Housing Act provide more general information on these laws, including which settings each applies to, and the ADA overview has a section specifically addressing service animals. Organizations should also check whether there are state or...

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