Service dogs are trained to perform many different types of tasks that help assist people with disabilities.

Whether they're helping someone walk, picking up items for those in wheelchairs, assisting someone who's blind, preventing a child with autism from wandering off, or alerting someone with hearing loss that someone is approaching them, these dogs are trained to assist a wide range of conditions.

Check out Colt the Service Dog. This guy does everything he can to help his mom!

If someone brings a service dog into a business, hotel, public transportation, etc, can someone in Iowa legally ask to see their service dog papers?

Unsplash - Brian Wangerheim
Unsplash - Brian Wangerheim

Service Dog Papers

According to Nolo, in Iowa, people with disabilities are allowed to bring service animals with them to any place of public accommodation. Iowa also prohibits these public accommodations from charging a special admission fee or requiring extra cost to have your service animal with you.

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Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) "a public accommodation may not ask you questions about your disability or demand to see certification, identification, or other proof of your animal training status."

This does not mean that a restaurant can't ask you questions. If it is unclear what your animal does for you, the establishment may ask if it is a service animal and what tasks they perform for you. A public accommodation is also allowed to exclude your service animal if it poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Your animal can be kicked out if the dog is aggressively barking, going to the bathroom inside, or out of control.

Service Dog vs Emotional Support Dog

An emotional support dog is not the same as a service dog. There is a clear and very legal difference between the two. An emotional support or "therapy dog" is defined as an untrained pet who emotionally supports the handler, according to the Animal Health Foundation. Emotional support, comfort, and calming effects are not counted as tasks or work.

A service dog is considered to be medical equipment. They are considered the same thing as wheelchairs, crutches, or insulin pumps. Service dogs are specifically trained to perform certain tasks.

While emotional support animals can be beneficial to those who need them, public accommodation is not legally required to allow you to bring your dog with you.

If a business advertises itself as pet-friendly, you can obviously bring your dog with you. If a business does not advertise as pet-friendly, it is up to the owner's discretion if they allow the animal on the property, according to Webstaurant Store.

If you believe you need the help of a service dog, you will need written documentation from your healthcare provider stating that you are being treated for a disability and need assistance. You can find more information at Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities.

*I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.*

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