October 8, 2009
Dear LAHSA Contracting Agency:
The following is an important message regarding
Americans with Disabilities requirements as it
relates to individuals with service animals.
This notice is being sent as a reminder that your agreement with LAHSA requires that your agency comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42, USC §12101, et seq., and its implementing regulations. Your agreement further requires your agency to comply with §§503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC §794. Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
As such, your agency must ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from the services your program provides. This means that your agency must provide "reasonable accommodations", where necessary, to serve persons with disabilities. A "reasonable accommodation" is a change, exception or modification to a policy, program or service, which allows a person with a disability to participate in a program or make use of a service.
It has recently come to LAHSA's attention that there may be some confusion as to the use of "service animals". The purpose of this letter is to provide information and guidance on the legal requirements your agency must follow with regard to service animals.
A service animal is any animal that is individually trained or certified to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. There is no legal requirement for service animals to be visibly identified or to have any particular type of documentation. A service animal is not considered to be a pet.
A service animal must be allowed to accompany an individual with a disability to all areas where the individual would normally have access. An individual with a service animal cannot be segregated from others. However, the service animal must be under the control of its partner or handler at all times.