New Mexico Laws on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

New Mexico law allows qualified service animals (dogs or miniature horses) into all public accommodations.

By , J.D.
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Under New Mexico's Service Animal 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 places. 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 Qualified Service Animals in New Mexico?

Under the New Mexico Service Animal Act, public accommodations must allow you to be accompanied by your "qualified service animal." A qualified service animal is a service dog or service miniature horse that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that has been trained to perform disability-related tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Examples of service animals that must be allowed into public accommodations under 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).

The ADA doesn't include 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 conditions. Although these animals often have therapeutic benefits, they are not individually trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers.

New Mexico service animal law specifically excludes emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy animals, which are defined as animals that accompany people with disabilities, but do not perform work or tasks for them and do not accompany them at all times.

What Counts as a Public Accommodation in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, people with disabilities may be accompanied by their qualified service animals on all common carriers (forms of transportation), to all public accommodations, and into all buildings that are open to the public. The law doesn't further define what qualifies as a public accommodation, but generally the term includes lodgings, stores, restaurants, public gathering places, and more.

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

  • hotels and other lodging establishments
  • restaurants and other places that serve food and drink
  • service establishments
  • any place of public gathering, such as an auditorium or convention center
  • gyms, parks, zoos, bowling alleys, and other places of exercise or recreation
  • schools, libraries, museums, and other places where items are collected or displayed publicly, and
  • social service centers.

Rules for Your Service Animal in New Mexico

The ADA and New Mexico 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.

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 and New Mexico's Service Animal Act allows 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 Service Animals Allowed in New Mexico Housing?

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.

In addition, the federal Fair Housing Act says that 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.

New Mexico's Human Rights Act prohibits housing discrimination based on disability, as long as the person's disability is not related to his or her ability to rent or maintain the housing under consideration. This law doesn't mention service animals. New Mexico landlords are still subject to the federal Fair Housing Act, however.

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