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Illinois Service Dog Requirements

Illinois Service Dog Requirements

Individuals in Illinois who require the assistance of a service dog are recognized and protected by federal and state laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Illinois Human Rights Act safeguard the rights of service dog owners in the Prairie State.

Illinois law allows service dogs to enter public areas, including places where dogs are typically prohibited. Keep reading to learn more about the requirements and rights of service dogs in Illinois.

Health Requirements

To be eligible for a service dog in Illinois, the handler must have a qualifying physical or mental health disability. A “disability” is defined as a physical or mental impairment that significantly restricts a major life activity such as working, socializing, or attending school.

Physical disabilities include visual impairment, hearing loss, and seizures. Meanwhile, psychiatric disabilities include conditions like severe depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and autism. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to support individuals with mental health conditions.

Service Dog Requirements - Infographice - ServiceDogCertifications
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Training Requirements

Merely having a qualifying disability does not automatically qualify an individual for a service dog in Illinois. The dog must be specifically trained to perform tasks directly related to the handler’s condition.

Service dogs are trained to perform a wide range of tasks. Some examples of tasks for physical disabilities include pulling wheelchairs, guiding individuals with visual impairments, and providing assistance during seizures. 

On the other hand, tasks for psychiatric disabilities may include retrieving medication, providing tactile stimulation during moments of crisis, calming the handler during panic attacks, and assisting in crowded environments.

It is essential to note that service dogs in training do not have the same public access rights as fully trained service dogs.

Service Dog Training Log - ServiceDogCertifications

Keeping a training log will help with analyzing the progress of your service dog’s training. Download this free sample Service Dog Training Log, provided by Service Dog Certifications.

Identification Requirements for Service Dogs in Illinois

While most service dog owners use accessories like ID cards, vests, tags, and certificates to signal that their dog is a service dog, these items are not required in Illinois. However, service dog owners may prefer to use these items to identify their dogs as service animals and prevent unwanted interactions with their dogs while on duty.

When a service dog handler’s disability is not apparent, stores, restaurants, and other public venues in Illinois may ask two questions to determine if the dog is a service dog:

  1. Is the animal a service dog required for a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Service Dog Registration in Illinois

There is no specific registration requirement for service dogs in Illinois. However, you may have to register your dog if there is a local rule that requires registration of all dogs.

While service dog registration is optional, many handlers choose to register their service dogs voluntarily. By registering their service dogs with a service like Service Dog Certifications, the dog’s information is entered into a searchable database linked to an ID card. 

Service dog handlers can use this card to demonstrate that their dog is a service dog, which may be convenient when third parties demand documentation. However, keep in mind that no one can condition entry of a service dog on having any type of documentation or paraphernalia. 

A woman with her service dog enjoying a sunny day out in the city
A service dog registration in Illinois can be useful to service dog handlers when confronted with the outside world.

Psychiatric Service Dog Requirements

While most people associate service dogs with physical disabilities, service dogs also support individuals with psychiatric disabilities. In Illinois, psychiatric service dogs (PSD) have the same legal rights as other types of service dogs, as they are equally important to their handlers’ health management.

Psychiatric service dogs perform a wide range of tasks, including: 

  • deep pressure therapy
  • reminding the handler to take medication
  • posting and watching the handler’s back in open areas
  • providing tactile stimulation
  • alerting the handler to oncoming threats or episodes
  • disrupting repetitive self-destructive behaviors

Wonder if you qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog?
Get an assessment from a licensed medical health professional. If you qualify, they can issue a PSD Letter so that you can confidently train and own a PSD.

Get your PSD letter now - ServiceDogCertifications

Where Can Service Dogs Go in Illinois?

Service dogs in Illinois are permitted to accompany their handlers in public areas that do not allow pets. For example, handlers can bring their service dog to restaurants, shops, hospitals, schools, and hotels. 

Service dogs also have housing rights and must be allowed to live with their handlers, even in buildings prohibiting dogs.

Service Dog Legal Cases in Illinois

Third parties can get in trouble when they violate the rights of service dog owners. There have been many legal cases involving service dogs in Illinois. 

One of the cases involved a woman with a service dog who was denied access to a local restaurant. The woman filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office, which resulted in a settlement requiring the restaurant to train its employees on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and pay a fine.

Another case involved a student with a service dog who was denied access to a university dormitory. The student filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which resulted in a settlement requiring the university to revise its policies and pay a fine.

In a third case, a woman with a service dog was denied access to a hospital. The woman filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, which found the hospital had violated the Illinois Human Rights Act and ordered the hospital to pay damages to the woman.

These cases illustrate the importance of understanding the laws and regulations related to service dogs in Illinois and ensuring that individuals with disabilities are able to access public venues with their service animals.

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