North Dakota Laws on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

When North Dakota state law and federal law give you the right to have an animal in housing or public places.

By , J.D.
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Under North Dakota'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. Public accommodations in North Dakota must comply with both state and federal law. 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.

What Are Public Accommodations?

In North Dakota, you may bring your service animal into any public accommodation, health care facility, transportation service, or any other place to which the public is generally invited. For example, restaurants, shops, hotels, service establishments, office buildings the public enters (such as an accountant or lawyer's office), hospitals, and arenas all fall within this definition.

Under the ADA, the definition of public accommodations is both broad and detailed. It includes all sorts of establishments to which the public has access, including stores, theaters, gyms, zoos, parks, schools, and homeless shelters.

Which Animals Are Covered?

In North Dakota, service animals include signal dogs (for the hearing-impaired), guide dogs (for the sight-impaired), and other animals trained to perform tasks, work, or provide assistance to people with disabilities. The law lists some examples of these tasks, including retrieving dropped items, providing support for balance, assisting in a medical crisis, or providing protection to someone with a disability.

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been trained to perform disability-related tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. In some cases, a miniature horse may also qualify as a service animal. In addition to hearing dogs and guide 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 North Dakota'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 these animals often have therapeutic benefits, they are not individually trained to perform specific tasks for their handlers. Under the ADA and North Dakota law, owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals, only service animals.

Rules for Your Service Animal

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 North Dakota 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, 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.

Service Animals in North Dakota Housing

Both the federal Fair Housing Act and North Dakota law prohibit discrimination in rental housing accommodations against those who use 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. Your landlord, however, can ask you to provide reliable documentation of your disability and the relationship between your disability and your need for an accommodation in the form of a service or assistance animal. This documentation may be provided by a physician or other medical professional. However, your landlord may not ask you for documentation if your disability and need for a service or assistance animal are readily apparent or the landlord already knows about them. If, for example, you are blind and use a guide dog for navigation, your landlord probably can't request documentation.

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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