Maine Laws on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

In Maine, service dogs have to be allowed in public places and assistance animals have to be allowed in housing.

Below, we explain which animals qualify as service animals and assistance animals in Maine, where service animals are allowed, and some rules you may need to follow with your service animal.

What Counts as a Service Animal in Maine?

In Maine, a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or tasks to benefit someone with a disability, including a intellectual, mental, psychiatric, sensory, or physical disability.

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that has been 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.

Examples of service animals that must be allowed into public accommodations under Mane state law and the ADA include:

  • 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
  • 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 Maine’s public accommodations law includes what some people call “emotional support animals”: animals that provide a sense of safety, companionship, and comfort to those with psychiatric or emotional conditions. Although these animals often have therapeutic benefits, they are not individually trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers.

What Are the Rules Regarding Public Accommodations and Service Animals in Maine?

Under Maine’s Human Rights Act and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities have the right to be accompanied by their service animals in restaurants, hotels, stores, theaters, and other public accommodations. However, under the ADA and Maine law, owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals or pets, only service animals. Public accommodations in Maine must comply with both state and federal law.

The ADA and Maine law 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.

The ADA and Maine’s public accommodations 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.

Under the ADA, 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.

How Are Public Accommodations Defined in Maine?

The Maine Human Rights Act includes a list of 14 types of facilities that qualify as public accommodations. Maine protects your right to be accompanied by your service animal in:

  • inns, motels, and other lodgings, whether for transients or otherwise
  • restaurants, bars, soda fountains, ice cream parlors, and other places that serve drinks or food
  • movie theaters, playhouses, stadiums, concert halls, and other places of entertainment
  • auditoriums, lecture halls, convention centers, and other places where the public gathers
  • shopping centers, bakeries, clothing stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and any other places that sell or rent goods
  • professional offices (of a lawyer or accountant, for example), laundromats, dry cleaners, banks, hospitals, and any other places that provide services
  • all forms of public transportation
  • museums, galleries, libraries, and other places of display or collection
  • parks zoos, swimming pools, gyms, golf courses, country clubs, seashore accommodations, and any other places for recreation, health, or exercise
  • all educational institutions, from nursery schools to graduate schools
  • public elevators for all building with at least two tenants (or one landlord and one tenant)
  • town halls, courthouses, municipal buildings, and all other local or state government institutions, and
  • all other establishments that cater to, provide goods or services to, or accept patronage from, the general public.

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

What Are the Rules for Animals in Maine Housing?

The fair housing provisions of Maine’s Human Rights Act prohibit housing discrimination based on disability. They also require landlords, owners, and managers to allow those with disabilities to be accompanied by their assistance animals. The definition of assistance animals is broader than the definition of service animals and includes not only service animals individually trained to assist those with disabilities, but also any animal that a doctor, psychiatrist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or licensed social worker has determined is necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing accommodations against those who use service animals. You must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities, and may not be charged 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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