Landlords and public accommodations in Iowa are required by law to allow service dogs and assistive animals that aid people with impairments.

People with disabilities have the right to be accompanied by their service animals at restaurants, hotels, markets, theaters, and other public venues under Iowa’s disability rights law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In Iowa, public accommodations must adhere to both state and federal regulations. We explain which public establishments are covered, which animals qualify as service animals, and what guidelines you may need to follow with your support animal in the sections below.

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What Kinds of Service Animals Are Acceptable in Iowa?

Public accommodations in Iowa must enable you to be accompanied by your service dog or assistive animal. A service dog is any canine that has been particularly trained to aid a person with a handicap, regardless of whether the dog is called a service dog, an independence dog, a support dog, or any other name. A simian (a monkey or an ape) or other animal that has been particularly trained or is being taught to help a person with a handicap is referred to as an assistive animal.

A service animal is a dog or small horse that has been taught to do disability-related duties or labor for the benefit of a person with a disability, according to the ADA. The following are examples of service animals that must be permitted in public facilities under the ADA:

Hearing dogs alert their handlers to important sounds such as alarms, doorbells, and other signals guide dogs assist those who are blind or visually impaired in safely navigating psychiatric service animals assist their handlers in managing 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 warn their handlers of oncoming seizures and may even protect their handlers during seizure activity, while allergy alert animals warn their handlers of potentially toxic foods or other substances (such as peanuts).

The ADA does not cover what some term “emotional support animals,” which are animals that give a feeling of protection, friendship, and comfort to those suffering from mental or emotional problems. Although these animals are often therapeutic, they are not specifically taught to do particular duties for their humans. Similarly, although Iowa law refers to support animals, the legislation only covers animals that have been trained to help someone with a handicap, not animals whose only job is to bring comfort merely by being there. Pets are not covered by the ADA or Iowa’s disability statute.

In Iowa, what qualifies as a public accommodation?

People with disabilities may bring their service animals to any place of public accommodation in Iowa. Public accommodations in Iowa include:

all common carriers and forms of public transportation, including buses, trains, boats, and motor vehicles hotels and lodging places\s restaurants, bars, and other places to eat or drink\s all places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, from stores and businesses to parks, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools, and more, and\s all other places to which the public is invited.

The term of public accommodations under the ADA is likewise fairly wide, including any establishment open to the public.

Are Service Animals Regulated in Iowa?

The ADA and Iowa law both prohibit public establishments from charging a special entry charge or forcing you to pay any other additional fees in order to have your service animal with you. You may, however, be required to pay for any damage your animal causes.

Furthermore, under the ADA, a public facility may not inquire about your impairment or request certification, identification, or other evidence of your animal’s training or status. Whether it is unclear what your service animal does, the business may just inquire if it is a service animal and what responsibilities it does for you.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) authorizes a public accommodation to refuse your service animal if it presents a clear hazard 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 regulate it adequately. Your service or assistance animal must be under your authority under Iowa law. Even if your service animal is not permitted, you have the right to access the public facility.

Are Service Animals Allowed in Iowa Housing?

Discrimination in housing accommodations against persons who use service animals is prohibited under Iowa law and the federal Fair Housing Act (and assistive animals, under Iowa law). You must have full and equal access to all housing facilities, and you may not be charged an additional fee for having a service animal (although you may have to pay for damage your animal causes). A “no pets” restriction in your lease or rental agreement does not apply to your assistance animal.

Furthermore, the federal Fair Housing Act states that housing facilities must include service dogs and emotional support animals if required for a disabled person to have an equal chance to utilize and enjoy the property. To be eligible for this provision, you must have a handicap and a disability-related need for the animal. To qualify, the animal must labor, provide duties or services, or lessen the emotional impact of your impairment. (For further information, see the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s service animal advice.)

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