Colorado Service Dog Requirements
If you have a disability, you may qualify for a service dog. Colorado law aligns with federal guidelines. These guidelines allow a person with a disability to reside, travel, and perform their activities of daily living with a service dog. Colorado also takes the extra step to protect service dogs who are still in training (Colorado Revised Statute 24-34-803), enabling them to train with their handlers in public areas. Continue reading for more information on Colorado service dog requirements.
Definition of a Service Dog
A service dog is trained to carry out specific tasks to assist a person with a disability. The disability can be physical, mental health-related, or medical. Colorado follows the American with Disabilities Act by restricting service animals to canines and miniature horses. A canine does not have to meet any specific requirements regarding height or weight. Colorado does, however, ban pit bulls but not from performing as service dogs.
The task a service dog performs must be related to their owner’s disability. The task(s) must be an act that their owner would not be able to perform easily or safely without assistance.
How is the Service Dog Trained?
To be a legitimate service dog, a dog must be trained to perform a task specific to their owner’s disability, as stated above. As an example, some service dogs are trained to bring objects such as medication bottles or walking canes. Others prevent their owners from falling by allowing themselves to be used as physical support. Training can be performed through a professional trainer or by the owner (or owner’s family).
Identification Requirements for a Service Dog in Colorado
Although Colorado does not require any identification requirements for service dogs, it’s always good to register your service dog. Doing so prevents any problems or misunderstandings from occurring, allowing your dog to perform their duty with fewer interruptions.
In Colorado, businesses are only legally allowed to ask two questions when it is not apparent that the dog is a service animal:
- Is this a service animal?
- What task has the animal been trained to perform?
Due to privacy concerns, business and private entities may not ask personal questions such as:
- Ask the owner to declare their illness or disability.
- Demand documentation regarding registration or training.
- Ask the owner to have the animals perform their assigned task as a demonstration.
Colorado does not require a service dog to have a vest or identification tag stating that they are service dogs.
Service Dog Registration in Colorado
Although service dog registration is not required by law in Colorado, it does provide peace of mind. Having an extra layer of protection and privacy for a dog and its owner can make all the difference. Service dogs perform better in calm environments with few interruptions, and registration allows just that. Having documentation at the ready garners legitimacy and respect from business owners and the public, enabling service dogs to remain undisturbed.
People who are interested in training, certification, and registration in Colorado can inquire with Service Dog Certifications, their local service dog trainers, or county animal enforcement department in the Colorado area.
Psychiatric Service Dog Requirements
Psychiatric service dogs are not the same as emotional support animals. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to perform a task that is tailored to meet a psychiatric patient’s needs. For instance, a psychiatric service dog may be trained to performing the following tasks:
- Remind their owner to take their psychotropic medications.
- Apply deep pressure therapy.
- Interrupt any self-harm behavior.
- Alert others when a person with a psychiatric disability becomes agitated.
Service Dog or Emotional Support Dog in Colorado
Colorado requires that a service dog or emotional support animal always be tethered or harnessed and must remain under their owner’s control at all times unless such a device interferes with their ability to perform. Any disruptive or dangerous behavior can have the animals removed from the area. Service dogs are working animals and can not play, be fed, or perform tasks for anyone else other than their owner.
If your dog isn’t specifically trained to perform a task, you may still qualify for an emotional support dog (ESA). Emotional support animals are recognized as assistance animals, but do not have the same access rights as service dogs. ESAs provide support and comfort to owners that suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc., and can live and travel with their owners without having to pay additional pet fees.
You and Your Service Dog in Colorado
After your dog finishes their training, you are approved by Federal law to bring your service dog with you in public. Because a service animal adds to the safety, well-being, and quality-of-life of its owners, service dogs are allowed into general public areas. This includes buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
If a service dog sounds like a good fit for your disability, you can speak to your healthcare professional for their consultation. Your healthcare professional may be able to point you in the right direction and help you obtain a service dog. It’s vital to ensure your service dog is well-behaved and able to tolerate the public. Aggressive outbursts, disruptive behavior, or violation of sanitary standards can prevent your service dog from doing their job.
Service dogs are a joy to have and can lighten the load for many people with disabilities. Knowing what you can and can not do with your service dog within Colorado is essential for both you and your dog.