Assistance Dogs: Exemptions From Local Regulations
Specially trained assistance dogs are often granted exemptions from local requirements that are imposed on other dogs. Some laws don't exempt all service dogs; they cover only guide dogs, or only guide and hearing dogs.
Many pooper-scooper laws (New York's and San Francisco's, for example) don't apply to guide, hearing, or service dogs. (N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 1310; S.F. Health Code, art. 1, § 40.) Unfortunately, zealous police officers trying to enforce these laws may not always know, or be willing to be told, that assistance dogs are exempt. In San Francisco, for example, a policeman ignored a blind woman's protests that the law exempted her. As a large lunch-time crowd gathered, the officer forced the woman to clean up her guide dog's droppings and take them across the street to a garbage can. She sued and received a $17,000 settlement from the city for emotional trauma. (San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 16, 1988.)