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Thursday, May 25, 2017
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Cadence is a four-month-old service dog in training. (MGNonline)

Cadence is a four-month-old service dog in training. (MGNonline)

Use of service dogs covered by federal law

Last Modified: Monday, February 17, 2014 11:05 AM

By Andrew Perzo / American Press

I have a service dog, and I was refused entry at a local business. How do I file an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint?

Write a brief description of what happened and send it, along with your contact information, to U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section – 1425 NYAV, Washington, DC 20530.

Complaints can also be filed by fax, 202-307-1197, and email,

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, places of public accommodation — stores, hotels, schools, libraries — can’t discriminate against people based on their disabilities, including those that necessitate the use of service animals.

“Generally, a public accommodation shall modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. ...,” reads 28 CFR 36, federal regulations drafted to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a place of public accommodation where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.”

Those running the public accommodations can ask a disabled person to remove the animal if he or she lacks control of it or if the animal isn’t housebroken. And, the regulations say, a public accommodation “may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal.”

“A public accommodation may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public accommodation shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal,” the regulations read.

“Generally, a public accommodation may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.”

The regulations list several examples of tasks that service animals perform. Among them: guiding the visually impaired, alerting hearing-impaired people to sounds, retrieving objects, assisting someone during a seizure, and “helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.”

The term “service animal” in the regulations applies only to specially trained dogs.


Robins head north this time of year

Where are the robins? Some years they are everywhere; other years they’re nowhere in the winter here in Southwest Louisiana. The cold winter should have sent more here, or was it too cold even here, so they migrated further south to Mexico?

Robins can be seen in some parts of Southwest Louisiana, said Justin Hoffman, associate professor of biology at McNeese State University.

“As far as I can tell the migration of robins is pretty normal this year. I think the issue is that while robins will consistently land in this area as they migrate north, they are not so specific on where they congregate, such as a certain yard or neighborhood, for instance,” Hoffman wrote in an email Tuesday.

“I usually see them in my yard as well. However, none have showed up this year. However, just this evening in a neighborhood about one mile away from my house, I saw yards packed with robins.”

He said he also saw several groups of robins a couple of weeks ago as he drove to Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. At this time of year, Hoffman said, the robins are heading northward. They migrate south in August, he said.

The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email

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