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.

Indiana's service animal laws and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect the rights of people with disabilities to bring their service animals to all public accommodations, including:

  • stores
  • businesses
  • motels
  • restaurants, and
  • theaters.

If you have disabilities, these laws also protect your right to bring your service animals into public buildings and outdoor spaces (like parks and sidewalks) and onto public transportation and common carriers (airplanes, ferries, and so on).

This article will discuss the following:

  • which animals qualify as service animals in Indiana
  • which public accommodations must allow them, and
  • how Indiana and federal law treat emotional support animals.

We'll also look at some rules you need to know about having your service animal in public.

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 might also protect its handler during an episode), or
  • an autism service animal (which could interrupt self-harming behavior or initiate calming touch for an anxious or agitated handler).

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that's 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. A miniature horse can sometimes qualify as a service animal under the ADA.

Neither the ADA nor Indiana's service animal law includes pets or "emotional support animals" (ESAs). Emotional support animals provide a sense of safety, companionship, and comfort to those with psychiatric or emotional disabilities or conditions.

Although ESAs often have therapeutic benefits, they're not individually trained to perform specific tasks for a disabled person, so they don't fit the state or ADA definition of "service animals." Owners of public accommodations in Indiana are only required to allow you to bring your service animal. They don't have to admit your ESA.

Which Public Accommodations in Indiana Must Allow Service Animals

In Indiana, you have the right to bring your service animal to any public accommodation as defined by either state law or the ADA.

The ADA definition of public accommodation covers most public places. 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 (including public and private schools), 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 to the public or offers the public the use or purchase of:

  • facilities
  • goods, or
  • Services.

(Learn how the ADA protects your right to have your service animal at work.)

Service Animal Rules in Indiana

Under the ADA, a public accommodation can't ask you questions about your disability or demand to see certification or other proof of your animal's training or status. If it isn't apparent what your service animal does, the establishment is allowed to ask you only two things:

  • whether it's a service animal, and
  • what tasks it performs for you.

Indiana law and the ADA 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. But you should expect to pay for any damage your animal causes.

Under the ADA, your service animal can be excluded from a public place if it poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. For example, the facility can kick your dog out if the dog is aggressively barking and snapping at other customers.

Public accommodations can also exclude your service animal if it's not housebroken or is out of control (and you can't or won't take steps to control it).

Service Animals and ESAs in Indiana Housing

Both Indiana and federal law protect you from discrimination in housing accommodations if you have a service animal. And federal housing laws protect your right to have an emotional support animal. If your lease or rental agreement includes a "no pets" provision, it doesn't apply to your service animal or ESA.

Under state and federal laws, if you have a disability, you must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities. And the laws bar your landlord from charging you extra for having a service animal (although you'll generally be expected to pay for any damage your animal causes).

Although Indiana law prohibits housing discrimination against anyone who has a physical disability, the law on service animals in housing offers you only limited protection. It applies only to guide dogs that assist someone with a disability to overcome that disability. The law doesn't mention other types of service animals.

The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) offers more protection. It requires housing facilities to allow service dogs and emotional support animals—if the animal is necessary for a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the home. For your right to have your service animal or ESA to be protected under this provision, both of the following must be true:

  • you have a disability, and
  • you have a disability-related need for the animal.

In other words, to qualify for FHA protection, your animal must perform tasks or services for you or alleviate the emotional effects of your disability.

(For more information, including how to file a complaint against a landlord, see the Department of Housing and Urban Development's assistance animals page.)

Updated June 26, 2023

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