The State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind will host a conference Wednesday, February 23, in Sacramento to discuss impending changes to the legal definition of service animals in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

The new rules, which become law on March 15, will affect users of service animals, as well as the hospitality industry, retailers and other businesses that accommodate the public. 

“We’ve had a number of inquiries on this issue,” said Eric Holm, President of the Board. “We know there’s some confusion in the business community and among service dog users about the new rules, so we’ve invited representatives from the U. S. Department of Justice and the advocacy group Disability Rights California to discuss the changes and answer questions.”

Key portions of the law to be discussed include the following:

  • Only dogs are recognized as service animals, and only dogs that have been trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate the effect of a disability can be a service animal;
  • Dogs whose sole function is to provide emotional support are excluded from the definition of service animal;
  • There are no limits on breeds of dogs;
  • Businesses are generally required to accommodate trained miniature horses as service animals.

State service animal access laws will also be explained.

The seminar is set to begin at 9 AM at the Department of Consumer Affairs Headquarters in Sacramento. For those wishing to participate but are out of town, the seminar will also be webcast at the DCA’s website.

The webcast is scheduled to begin at 8:45AM and can be found here.