Arizona Laws on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Arizona and federal law protect your right to bring service dogs—but not emotional support animals—to all public places.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

Service animals make it possible for many people with disabilities to live independently and venture into public on their own. Under Arizona's service animal law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if you're disabled, you have the right to bring your service animals to all "public accommodations," such as:

  • restaurants
  • schools
  • grocery stores
  • theaters
  • businesses
  • motels,
  • and other public places.

Public accommodations in Arizona must comply with both state and federal disability laws, and people with disabilities can rely on whichever law offers the most protection. Learn below which animals qualify as service animals in Arizona and which public accommodations must allow them.

What's Considered a Service Animal in Arizona?

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that's trained to perform disability-related tasks or work for the benefit of a person with a disability. In some cases, a trained miniature horse can also qualify as a service animal. All of the following types of service animals must be allowed into public accommodations under the ADA, including:

  • hearing dogs, which alert their handlers to important sounds, such as alarms, doorbells, and other signals
  • guide dogs, which help those who are blind or visually impaired navigate safely
  • seizure alert animals, which let their handlers know of impending seizures and might also guard their handlers during seizure activity, and
  • allergen alert animals, which let their handlers know of the presence of foods or other substances that could be dangerous (such as peanuts)
  • psychiatric service animals, which help their handlers manage mental and emotional disabilities by, for example:
    • interrupting self-harming behaviors
    • reminding handlers to take medication
    • checking spaces for intruders, or
    • providing calming pressure during anxiety or panic attacks.

How Arizona law defines a service animal: Under state law, a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that's trained (or is in the process of being trained) to perform work or tasks for someone with a physical or sensory disability (like blindness) or an intellectual, psychiatric, or other mental disability.

Arizona law requires that the work or tasks performed by your service animal be directly related to your disability. The state lists the tasks such an animal might perform, which include the following:

  • pulling a wheelchair
  • providing stability
  • alerting someone to sounds or allergens
  • providing nonviolent protection or rescue work
  • assisting someone during a seizure
  • assisting with navigation
  • fetching medication, or
  • interrupting destructive or impulsive behavior.

Definition of an emotional support animal: Neither the ADA nor Arizona's service animal law includes what some call therapy dogs or "emotional support animals" (ESAs). ESAs are animals that provide a sense of safety, companionship, and comfort to those with psychiatric or emotional disabilities or conditions.

Although these animals often have therapeutic benefits, emotional support animals and therapy dogs aren't individually trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers, so they aren't considered service animals. Under the ADA and Arizona law, owners of public accommodations don't have to allow you to have your emotional support animal. These laws only protect your right to have your service animal with you in public.

These state and federal public accommodation laws also don't apply to pets. Arizona law specifies that a business, including a public accommodation, can have a "no pets" policy as long as it's not used to exclude service animals.

Which Public Accommodations in Arizona Must Allow Service Animals?

Arizona's service animal law protects your right to have your service animal in any "public place." And the state law defines public place broadly, including any place to which the general public is invited, including:

  • places of business
  • offices, and
  • places of recreation.

The law applies to all public accommodations, whether it's run by a public or private entity. Arizona law also protects your right to have your service animal with you when using all forms of transportation, specifically including the following:

  • taxis
  • ambulances, and
  • tow trucks.

Exception for zoos or animal parks under Arizona law: Under Arizona's service animal law, special rules apply to zoos or wild animal parks. The law allows these establishments to bar service animals from areas where they might come into direct contact with the animals in the zoo or park—like a petting zoo.

If you can't take your service animal into any area of the zoo or park, the establishment must provide—free of charge—a place for your service animal to wait while you visit the restricted area. The facility must meet all the following criteria. It must:

  • be safe and clean
  • be in an area that's not accessible to the general public
  • be comfortable for your service animal, and
  • provide water for your service or guide dog to drink.

But service animals must be allowed in all areas where a physical barrier separates them from animals belonging to the zoo or park.

Public accommodations under the ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act defines public accommodations broadly. It includes:

  • hotels and other lodging places
  • public transportation, including terminals and stations
    • restaurants
    • sales and service establishments
    • educational institutions
    • any place of public gathering, such as:
      • stadiums
      • theaters
      • museums
      • gyms, and
      • parks, and
    • social service centers, like:
      • senior centers
      • homeless shelters, and
      • food banks.

    Rules for Service Animals in Public Places in Arizona

    Under the ADA and Arizona law, a public accommodation can't ask you questions about your disability or demand to see certification, identification, or other proof of your animal's training or status. If it isn't apparent what your service animal does, the establishment can ask you only whether your animal is a service animal and what tasks it performs for you.

    And under state and federal laws, public accommodations in Arizona can't charge you a special admission fee or require you to pay any other extra cost to have your service animal with you. But the state law specifically states that you can be required to pay for any damage your animal causes.

    Under the ADA and Arizona law, your service animal can be excluded from a public accommodation or kicked out if:

    • it poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others (for example, if your dog is aggressively barking and snapping at other customers)
    • it's not housebroken
    • your animal is out of control, and you're unable or unwilling to control it
    • its presence on the premises poses an undue burden on the establishment, or
    • the animal's presence fundamentally alters the nature of the establishment or the goods or services it provides.

    Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals in Arizona Housing

    The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination in rental housing accommodations against those who use service dogs or animals. This means that your landlord can't charge you extra for having a service animal (although you can be charged for damage your animal causes), and you must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities. If your lease or rental agreement includes a "no pets" provision, it doesn't apply to your service animal.

    The FHA also extends this protection to both service dogs and emotional support animals if having the ESA is necessary for someone with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the home. To fall under this provision, you must have a physical or mental disability and a disability-related need for the animal (for example, your cat alleviates the emotional effects of your disability).

    (For more information, see the Department of Housing and Urban Development's guidance on assistance animals.)

    Arizona's fair housing law doesn't specifically mention service animals. But it does prohibit disability discrimination by those who sell or rent residential property. The state housing law also requires sellers or landlords to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. According to the Arizona Attorney General's fair housing page, that includes accommodating a disabled person with an assistive animal.

    Learn more about how federal law protects your rights as a disabled renter.

    Updated May 31, 2023

    Talk to a Disability Lawyer

    Need a lawyer? Start here.

    How it Works

    1. Briefly tell us about your case
    2. Provide your contact information
    3. Choose attorneys to contact you
    Boost Your Chance of Being Approved

    Get the Compensation You Deserve

    Our experts have helped thousands like you get cash benefits.

    How It Works

    1. Briefly tell us about your case
    2. Provide your contact information
    3. Choose attorneys to contact you