In Georgia, people with disabilities have the right to bring their service animals to all public accommodations. Under both state law and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public accommodations include places like restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping centers, and grocery stores.
These laws also require those who operate transportation services like buses and cabs to allow service animals.
Read on to learn which animals qualify as service animals in Georgia, which places must allow them, and more.
Under Georgia law, only a dog can qualify as a service or assistance animal. And the law states that an "assistance dog" must have been specially trained to perform a physical task by a school for seeing-eye, hearing, service, or guide dogs—that is, the trainer must be a licensed or certified person, organization, or agency.
Georgia law allows you to bring a guide dog or assistance dog into public accommodations if you:
The law defines a physical disability as a physical impairment or defect that causes you to be unable to move around without aid or limits your ability to do any of the following:
Note that this definition doesn't include mental, developmental, or intellectual disabilities. Therefore, some types of assistance animals, like psychiatric service dogs likely aren't covered by Georgia's law.
In contrast, the ADA defines a service animal as a dog that's trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a physical or mental disability. (Sometimes, a miniature horse can also qualify as a service animal under the ADA.) The tasks or work your service animal does must be directly related to your person's disability to be covered by the ADA.
Georgia law and the ADA differ in some ways, but public accommodations in Georgia must comply with both sets of laws. And if you have a disability, you're entitled to rely on whichever law provides the most protection.
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that relieve one or more symptoms or effects of a person's psychiatric or emotional disability or condition. ESAs are often used to provide their owners with a sense of safety, companionship, and comfort.
These animals can have real therapeutic benefits, but they don't meet the definition of service animals under state law or the ADA because they aren't individually trained to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability. Because they aren't considered service animals, owners of public accommodations aren't required to allow you to have an emotional support animal.
Both Georgia law and the ADA define public accommodations in very broad terms. Under these laws, you have the right to have your service animal in all the following places:
Public accommodations also include state and local government facilities and any nonprofit organizations and businesses that serve the general public—at least, anywhere customers are generally permitted to go.
(Learn when you can and can't have your service animal at work.)
You can't be charged extra to bring your service animal to any public accommodation in Georgia. And you can't be asked about your disability, only whether the dog is a service animal and what tasks your dog is trained to perform.
Under the ADA, your dog isn't required to wear a special vest, harness, or tag that identifies the dog as a service animal. But your service dog must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless one of the following applies:
Public accommodations can't bar your service animal unless it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. Under the ADA, you can only be asked to remove the animal if:
Under Georgia law and the ADA, you can be required to pay for any damage your service animal causes.
Both state and federal laws protect the rights of people with disabilities when it comes to housing. That includes your rights to reasonable accommodation, including having a service animal. (Learn more about disabled renters' rights.)
Georgia's service animal law protects the rights of people with disabilities who have service animals to full and equal access to housing. Under the law, you can't be discriminated against in the rental, lease, or purchase of housing.
The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) offers people with disabilities more protection for their assistive animals. The FHA requires housing facilities to allow both service animals and emotional support animals, if necessary, for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the home.
To qualify under this federal protection, both of the following must be true:
In other words, your service dog must perform tasks or services to aid you to qualify for FHA protection. And if you have an emotional support animal, to be covered under the law, the animal must alleviate the emotional effects of your disability.
Your landlord can't require you to pay extra to have a service dog or emotional support animal. And any "no-pet" policies don't apply to your ESA or guide or service dog. But you are liable for any damages your service dog or emotional support animal causes to the property or another person.
If you've faced housing discrimination because of your service dog or emotional support animal, you can file a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Updated April 14, 2023