Louisiana Laws on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Louisiana law and federal law allow service dogs and psychiatric service animals in all public places.

By , J.D. UC Berkeley School of Law

Under Louisiana's service animal law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities may bring service animals to all "public accommodations," which includes stores, businesses, motels, restaurants, theaters, schools, and more. Below, we explain which public accommodations are covered, which animals qualify as service animals, and some rules you may need to follow with your service animal.

Which Animals Count as Service Animals in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, a service animal is a dog who is trained to do work or tasks for someone with a disability, whether physical or mental. A service dog might be a guide dog, a hearing dog, a mobility dog, an autism service dog, a seizure alert dog, a dog that provides assistance during a medical crisis, or a dog that assists people (including veterans) with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog (or in some cases, a miniature horse). In addition to guide dogs and hearing dogs, here are some examples of service animals that must be allowed into public accommodations under the ADA:

  • 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
  • seizure alert animals, which let their handlers know of impending seizures, and may also guard their handlers during seizure activity, and
  • allergen alert animals, which let their handlers know of foods or other substances that could be dangerous (such as peanuts).

Neither the ADA nor Louisiana's service animal law includes therapy dogs 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 Louisiana law, owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals, only service animals. These laws also don't apply to pets.

What Are Public Accommodations in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, you may bring your service animal into any public accommodation, which includes:

  • streets, sidewalks, highways, and walkways
  • public buildings and facilities
  • all public transportation and common carriers, such as boats, buses, cars, taxis, ferries, and trains
  • schools, from kindergartens to universities
  • hotels, restaurants, and theaters
  • all places of public amusement, accommodation, or resort, and
  • any other place to which the general public is invited.

The ADA sets out a long list of facilities that qualify as public accommodations to which you may bring your service animal, including:

  • hotels and other lodging establishments
  • public transportation and terminals, depots, and stations
  • restaurants and other places that serve food and drink
  • service establishments
  • any place of public gathering, such as an auditorium or convention center
  • 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.

Are There Rules for Service Animals in Louisiana?

The ADA and Louisiana law have similar rules for what accommodations may ask about your service animal, your service animal's behavior, and fees for your service animal.

Under the ADA and Louisiana law, a public accommodation may not ask you questions about your disability or demand to see certification, identification, 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.

The ADA and Louisiana law 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.

Federal and state law allow a public accommodation to exclude your service animal if it poses a direct threat to health and safety (or 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 if it is out of control and you are unable or unwilling to effectively control it. You are still entitled to enter the public accommodation even if your service animal is not allowed in.

Are Psychiatric Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Louisiana Housing?

Both the federal Fair Housing Act and Louisiana law prohibit discrimination in rental housing accommodations against those who use service animals or psychiatric service animals. You must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities, and your landlord may not be 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.

Pursuant to 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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