South Dakota Laws on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

South Dakota's service animal law does not cover dogs trained to help people with mental disabilities.

Under South Dakota’s service law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities may bring service dogs to all "public accommodations," including grocery stores, motels, restaurants, schools, and more. Learn below which animals qualify as service animals, which public accommodations must allow them, and rules you may need to follow with your service animal.

Which Animals Are Covered by the Law in South Dakota?

Under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to perform disability-related tasks or work for the benefit of a person with a disability. (In some cases, a miniature horse may also qualify as a service animal.) Examples of service animals that must be allowed into public accommodations under the ADA include:

  • hearing dogs
  • guide dogs ("seeing eye" dogs)
  • psychiatric service animals (for example, dogs that can interrupt self-harming behaviors, remind handlers to take medication, check spaces for intruders, or provide calming pressure during panic attacks)
  • seizure alert animals, and
  • allergen alert animals (for example, dogs that can alter handlers to foods with peanuts.

South Dakota’s service animal law doesn’t explain what types of animals qualify. The law states only that public accommodations must allow those who are blind, deaf, or otherwise physically disabled to be accompanied by their specially trained service animals. Based on this definition, psychiatric service animals and other animals who are trained to assist those with mental disabilities do not appear to be covered.

While South Dakota law is not as broad as the ADA, public accommodations in South Dakota must comply with both state and federal law.

Neither the ADA nor South Dakota’s service animal law covers what some people call therapy dogs or “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 South Dakota law, owners of public accommodations are not required to allow emotional support animals, only service animals. These laws also don’t apply to pets.

Which Public Accommodations Are Covered

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

  • hotels and other lodging establishments
  • public transportation and terminals, depots, and stations
  • restaurants
  • sales or rental establishments and service establishments
  • any place of public gathering, such as an convention center, theater, stadium, gym, park or zoo
  • museums and educational institutions, and
  • social service centers, like senior centers, homeless shelters, and food banks.

South Dakota law defines public accommodation as hotels and other lodging places; places of public amusement, accommodation, or resort; and all other places to which the public is invited.

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 South 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, cannot be controlled, or if it isn't housebroken.

Service Animals in South Dakota Housing

Both the federal Fair Housing Act and South Dakota law prohibit discrimination in rental housing accommodations against those who use service animals. This means that you must be allowed full and equal access to all housing facilities and you 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, landlords and 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 physical or mental 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.)

Like its public accommodation law, South Dakota’s housing law covers only service animals specially trained to assist those who are blind, deaf, or have another physical disability. The law does not extend to those who use service animals for a mental disability. Learn more at the South Dakota Human Rights Division's service animal page.

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