Under New Hampshire’s service animal law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities may bring service animals to all "public accommodations," including stores, businesses, motels, restaurants, theaters, schools, and more. Below, we explain which animals qualify as service animals, which public accommodations are covered, and some rules you may need to follow with your service animal.
In New Hampshire, a service animal is a dog that has been trained to do tasks or work for the benefit of someone with a disability. The disability may be physical, sensory (such as low vision or deafness), or intellectual, psychiatric, or some other kind of mental disability. The tasks a service animal might perform include helping a blind person navigate, retrieving items, pulling a wheelchair, helping a person with a psychiatric disability by preventing or interrupting impulsive behaviors, or providing physical support to assist someone whose mobility is impaired to balance and remain stable.
Similarly, under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been trained to perform disability-related tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability. In some cases, a miniature horse may also qualify as a service animal under the ADA. In addition to guide dogs and hearing dogs, here are some other examples of service animals that must be allowed into public accommodations under the ADA:
Neither the ADA nor New Hampshire’s service animal 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 disabilities or conditions. Although emotional support dogs and therapy dogs and other animals often have therapeutic benefits, they are not individually trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers. Under the ADA and New Hampshire law, owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals, only service animals. These laws also don’t apply to pets.
Public accommodations in New Hampshire must comply with both state and federal law.
In New Hampshire, you may bring your service dog into any public accommodation, which includes a long list of examples, including hotels, roadhouses, and trailer parks; restaurants, ice cream parlors, and bars; swimming pools, skating rinks, gymnasiums, fairs, and pool halls; shops and stores; theaters, auditoriums, music halls, and meeting places; schools and libraries; and hospitals.
Under the ADA, the definition of public accommodations is also quite broad. It includes:
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.
The ADA prohibits 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 (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.
Both the federal Fair Housing Act and New Hampshire law prohibit discrimination in rental housing accommodations against those who use service dogs. You must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities, and your landlord may not charge you extra for having a service dog (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 dog.
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.)