Indiana Service Dog Requirements
For many residents of Indiana, service dogs play an invaluable role in enhancing their quality of life. This article provides a simple guide to service dog requirements for anyone wondering how their dog can qualify as a service dog in Indiana.
Federal and Indiana State Service Dog Laws
Service Dog Disability Requirements
To be a service dog handler in Indiana, you must have a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Service dogs that provide support for mental health related disabilities are known as psychiatric service dogs.
A “disability” is defined as a physical or mental health condition that “substantially limits a major life activity.” For psychiatric disabilities, many handlers obtain a PSD letter from a licensed healthcare professional to confirm their status.
Indiana Service Dog Training Requirements
A service dog must be trained to perform a job or task specifically related to the handler’s disability. There is no mandatory requirement for service dogs to undergo professional training in Indiana. Handlers can personally train their service dogs to perform the necessary tasks if they are up to the challenge.
Service dogs perform an amazing number of tasks. For example, they can guide the visually impaired, pull wheelchairs, detect seizures, retrieve medications, and provide comfort during emotional distress.
A unique quirk of Indiana law is that a trainer engaged in the process of training a service dog still has public access rights. That’s different from the ADA, which only gives fully trained service dogs access rights.
Public Access Requirements
Service dogs have the right to access public areas normally closed off to animals. That can include places like restaurants, stores, and airports. To enjoy these public access rights, a service dog must be under the handler’s control at all times.
A service dog must always be well-behaved in public places and able to do their job without being distracted by their environment. Service dogs can never act aggressively towards other people or animals or cause property damage.
A service dog that is misbehaving can be asked to leave a venue. A public access test can help determine if a service dog is ready for duty.
Service Dog Identification and Verification Requirements
While Indiana does not require service dogs to wear any specific form of identification, such as vests or ID cards, handlers may choose to use them. These accessories help to immediately identify a dog as a service animal.
In public spaces, staff can only ask two questions for verification if the disability is not immediately apparent: 1. whether the dog is a service animal required due to a disability, and 2. what work or task the dog has been trained to perform.
Indiana Service Dog Registration Requirements
There is no legal requirement in Indiana for service dogs to be registered. Service dog owners sometimes voluntarily register their dogs with private organizations, but this is a personal choice rather than a legal obligation.
For example, you can register a service dog with Service Dog Certifications and receive an associated ID card. But note that handlers do this for their own benefit, not because it is an Indiana legal requirement.
Indiana Service Dog Air Travel Requirements
Service dogs flying to and from Indiana can board the cabin of the airplane free of charge. To fly with a service dog, you will need to complete a special Department of Transportation form and give it to your airline before your flight. You can find full instructions on how to complete this form here.
Service Dog vs. Emotional Support Animal
Indiana distinguishes between service dogs and emotional support animals (ESA). ESAs help their owners with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These are the major differences between ESAs and service dogs:
- ESAs don’t need any special training.
- ESAs have primarily housing rights only (i.e., they can live in no-pet buildings for free).
- While service dogs can only be dogs and miniature horses, ESAs can be dogs, cats, birds, gerbils, fish, turtles, and other small household pets.
To qualify for an emotional support animal in Indiana, you need an ESA letter from an Indiana-licensed mental health professional. An ESA letter is the only way to prove your pet is an emotional support animal in Indiana.
Final Thoughts on Indiana Service Dog Requirements
Understanding Indiana’s specific laws and guidelines is crucial for service dog handlers in the state. These regulations ensure that individuals with disabilities can fully participate in public life with the support of their trained service dogs, fostering a more inclusive and accessible community for all.