Service dogs are permitted to accompany certain individuals with impairments under Oklahoma law.
People with disabilities have the right to be accompanied by their service animals in restaurants, hotels, markets, theaters, and other public places under Oklahoma law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Americans with Impairments Act (ADA) applies to persons with all forms of disabilities, including those who employ psychiatric service animals. Oklahoma’s service animal statute is more restrictive, since it only applies to persons who are blind, deaf or hard of hearing, or have another physical condition. Businesses and other public accommodations in Oklahoma, on the other hand, must follow both state and federal laws. Continue reading to find out which public accommodations are covered, which animals are considered service animals, and what guidelines you may need to follow with your support animal.
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In Oklahoma, what qualifies as a public accommodation?
People with certain disabilities in Oklahoma have the right to bring their service dogs into all public accommodations, including all streets, highways, sidewalks, and walkways; all public buildings; all common carriers and modes of transportation (including airplanes, cars, buses, trains, boats, and so on); all motels, hotels, and other lodging places; all college dormitories and other educational facilities; all restaurants and other places where food is sold; and all public places.
The term of public accommodations under the ADA is likewise fairly broad and encompasses all public locations. Religious institutions, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques, on the other hand, are not considered public accommodations under the ADA. This is true even if the religious body provides secular services, such as a day care facility that accepts children regardless of whether they are members of or associated with the religious institution. Private clubs (member-controlled nonprofit organizations that are very selective, demand significant membership fees, and were not formed to avoid compliance with civil rights legislation) are likewise not protected by the ADA. However, if a private club makes amenities accessible to nonmembers, such facilities are subject to the ADA’s public accommodation regulations.
What Animals Are Protected in Oklahoma?
A service animal is a canine that has been specially taught to do duties or labor for the benefit of a person with a handicap, according to the ADA. The animal’s responsibilities or labor must be directly tied to the person’s impairment. A miniature horse may potentially qualify as a service animal in certain situations. 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).
Oklahoma legislation only applies to guide, signal, or service dogs that aid the blind, deaf or hard of hearing, or physically handicapped. A service dog must be specially trained to meet the needs of a physically challenged person. The regulation does not apply to other sorts of animals or canines that aid people with impairments, such as psychiatric or other mental illnesses. Oklahoma companies must still comply with the ADA, which, as previously stated, extends more generally.
Neither the ADA nor Oklahoma’s equal rights legislation address what some refer to as “emotional support animals”: animals whose presence offers a feeling of safety, friendship, and comfort to persons suffering from mental or emotional disorders. Although these animals may be helpful, they cannot be specifically taught to do particular activities for individuals with impairments. Pets are not covered either.
Service Animal Guidelines
A public accommodation may not ask you questions about your impairment or request certification, identification, or other evidence of your animal’s training or status under the ADA. 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. Signal dogs (those who aid the deaf or hard of hearing) are required by Oklahoma law to wear an identifying orange collar.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Oklahoma law prevent public establishments from charging a special entry charge or requesting you to pay any other additional expense to have your service animal with you. You may, however, be required to pay for any damage your animal causes.
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.
Housing for Service Animals in Oklahoma
Landlord-tenant rules in Oklahoma prevent landlords from terminating or refusing to engage into a rental agreement with a tenant who is blind, deaf, or otherwise physically impaired because the renter employs a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog. (An exemption is made for tenancies entered into before November 1, 1985.)
Similarly, the federal Fair Housing Act outlaws discrimination against persons who use service animals in housing accommodations. 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.
Housing facilities must allow service dogs and emotional support animals if required for a person with a handicap to have an equal chance to utilize and enjoy the house, according to the federal Fair Housing Act. 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.