Service Animal Facts for Business Owners

Helpful Links

Office

  • Physical Address
  • Municipal Plaza Building
    114 W. Commerce, 6th Floor
    San Antonio, TX 78205   
  • Mailing Address
  • P.O. Box 839966
    San Antonio, TX 78283-3966
  • Phone
  • 210.207.8022
Email DAO

Staff

  • Mike Frisbie, P.E.
    Director and City Engineer
  • Anthony Chukwudolue, P.E.
    Assistant Director
  • Razi Hosseini, P.E.
    Assistant Director
  • Christie Chapman
    Assistant Director
  • Arthur Reinhardt, P.E., C.F.M.
    Assistant Director
  • Nefi Garza, P.E.
    Assistant Director
variety of service dogs

State of Texas House Bill No. 489 is in effect as of January 1, 2014. It was signed on June 7, 2013.

This bill echoes the spirit and intent of the 2010 ADA Amendments Act. HB 489 prohibits restaurants and other establishments from refusing to allow entry to service dogs or any disabled person. This bill will expand the definition of a service dog to include those who help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A ‘service animal’ means a dog that is specially trained (or currently in training) or equipped to help a person with a disability. Dogs of all breeds and sizes can be service dogs when they are properly trained. Examples of service dogs are shown throughout this page. Note: an animal that provides only comfort or emotional support to a person is NOT a service animal.

small service dog

A ‘person with a disability’ means a person who has:

  • a mental or physical disability
  • an intellectual or developmental disability
  • a hearing impairment 
  • Deafness
  • a visual impairment/ Blind
  • a speech impairment
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • or any health problem that requires special ambulatory devices or services
service dog and handler

The tasks that that the service dog may perform include:

  • guiding a person with a visual impairment
  • alerting a person who has a hearing impairment
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • alerting and protecting a person who has a Epilepsy or related disorder
  • reminding a person who has a mental illness to take prescribed medication
  • calming a person who has PTSD
  • calming maybe necessary in crowds, through traffic, social settings and during night terrors

A food service establishment, retail food store, or other entity may not deny a service dog admittance into an area of establishment or store or of the physical space occupied by the entity that is open to customers and is not used to prepare food if:

  • the service dog is accompanied and controlled by a person with a disability; or
  • the service animal is in training and is accompanied and controlled by an approved trainer.

If the person with the service dog has a disability that is not ‘readily apparent’, a staff member of the establishment, may ONLY inquire about:

  • whether the service animal is required because the person has a disability; and
  • what type of work the service dog is trained to perform.

It is prohibited to make demands or inquiries relating to the qualifications or certifications of a service dog for purposes of admittance to a public facility.

The discrimination prohibited by this bill includes a refusal to allow a person with a disability:

  • refusing to allow a person with a disability to use or be admitted to any public facility
  • requiring a person with a disability to pay extra compensation or make a deposit for the dog
    • the person is liable for damages done to the premise by the dog (except for reasonable wear and tear)

 

Penalties and damages resulting from discrimination: Violating a provision of HB 489 is a misdemeanor which is punishable by:

  • a fine of no more than $300
  • 30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with disabilities

In addition to the penalty, those who violate this bill are deemed to have deprived a person with a disability of his or her civil liberties. The person whose liberties have been affected may maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction and there is a conclusive presumption of damages in the amount of at least $300 to the person with a disability.

A person who is not disabled or a disabled person without proper training who uses a dog they claim is a service dog is guilty of a misdemeanor which is punishable by:

  • a fine of no more than $300
  • 30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with disabilities