Indiana Laws on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Indiana law and federal law protect your right to have service dogs in public places and housing.

By , J.D.
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Under Indiana's laws on the rights of people with disabilities and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities may bring their service animals to all public accommodations, including stores, businesses, motels, restaurants, theaters, and more. People with disabilities may also bring their service animals into public buildings and outdoor spaces (such as parks and sidewalks), and onto public transportation and common carriers (airplanes, ferries, and so on).

Learn below which animals qualify as service animals, which public accommodations must allow them, and rules you may need to follow with your service animal.

Service Animals Defined in Indiana

Under Indiana law, a service animal is an animal trained as:

  • a guide animal (for example, a guide dog that assists a visually impaired person in navigation and travel)
  • a hearing animal (such as a hearing dog, that alerts its handler to important noises, like the phone, doorbell, or alarm)
  • an assistance animal (including an animal that pulls a wheelchair, pushes an elevator button, or retrieves items)
  • a psychiatric assistance animal (such as an animal that interrupts self-destructive behavior, reminds its handler to take medication, or calms an anxiety attack with soothing pressure)
  • a mobility animal (such as an animal that provides physical support and balance to its handler)
  • a seizure alert animal (an animal that warns its handler of an impending seizure, and may also protect its handler during a seizure), and
  • an autism service animal (which may interrupt self-harming behavior, or initiate calming touch for a handler who is anxious or agitated).

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability. The tasks or work the animal does must be directly related to the person's disability. In some cases, a miniature horse may also qualify as a service animal under the ADA.

Neither the ADA nor Indiana's service animal law includes pets or what some people call "emotional support animals": 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, they are not individually trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers. Under the ADA and Indiana law, owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals, only service animals.

Which Public Accommodations in Indiana Must Allow Service Animals

Under the ADA, the definition of public accommodations is very broad. It includes:

  • hotels and other lodging establishments
  • public transportation and terminals, depots, and stations
  • restaurants and other places that serve food and drink
  • sales or rental establishments
  • service establishments
  • any place of public gathering, such as an auditorium or convention center
  • places of entertainment and exhibit, like theaters or sports stadiums
  • gyms, bowling alleys, and other places of exercise or recreation
  • recreational facilities, such as zoos and parks
  • libraries, museums, and other places where items are collected or displayed publicly
  • educational institutions, and
  • social service centers, like senior centers, homeless shelters, and food banks.

Indiana law defines public accommodations more generally, to include any establishment that caters, or offers facilities, goods, or services to the public.

Rules for Your Service Animal

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

Indiana law and the ADA both prohibit public accommodations from charging a special admission fee or requiring you to pay any other extra cost to have your service animal with you. However, you may have to pay for any damage your animal causes.

Under the ADA, your service animal can be excluded from a public accommodation if it poses a direct threat to health and safety. For example, if your dog is aggressively barking and snapping at other customers, the facility can kick the dog out. Your animal may also be excluded if it is not housebroken or out of control (and you cannot or won't take steps to control it).

Service Animals in Housing in Indiana

Indiana and federal law prohibit discrimination in housing accommodations against those who use service animals. You must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities, and your landlord may not charge you extra for having a service animal (although you may have to pay for damage your animal causes). If your lease or rental agreement includes a "no pets" provision, it does not apply to your service animal.

Although Indiana law prohibits housing discrimination against anyone who has a physical disability, the law on service animals in housing applies only to guide dogs that assist someone with a disability in overcoming that disability. Other types of service animals are not mentioned in the law.

Under the federal Fair Housing Act, housing facilities must allow service dogs and emotional support animals, if necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the home. To fall under this provision, you must have a disability and you must have a disability-related need for the animal. In other words, the animal must work, perform tasks or services, or alleviate the emotional effects of your disability in order to qualify. (For more information, see the Department of Housing and Urban Development's guidance on service animals.)

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