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Service Animals in Maine (Effective Oct 7, 2016)

Public Accommodations (Restaurants, hotels, stores, etc.) and Service Dogs

For public accommodations (restaurants, hotels, stores, etc.) a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability.

Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting an individual who is totally or partially blind with navigation and other tasks, alerting an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing nonviolent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or a telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to an individual with a mobility disability and helping a person with a psychiatric or neurological disability by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

The Maine Human Rights Act (5 M.R.S.A. section 4592, subsection 8) states that it is unlawful for a public accommodation (restaurant, stores, hotels, etc.) to refuse to permit the use of a service animal (dog) or otherwise discriminate against an individual with a physical or mental disability who uses a service animal (dog) at a public accommodation unless it is shown by defense that the service animal (dog) poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or the use of the service animal (dog) would result in substantially physical damage to the property of others or would substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the public accommodation. 

Fair Housing laws and Assistance Animals

In 2016 in order to clarify the use of helper animals, the Maine Legislature modified the Maine Human Rights Act to add a new definition – assistance animal. Assistance animal pertains only to housing and does not have to be a dog.

 An assistance animal is:

  1. An animal (cat, dog, etc.) that has been determined necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability by a physician, psychologist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or licensed social worker or
  2. An animal (cat, dog, etc.) individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical or mental disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds, providing reasonable protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or retrieving dropped items.

The Maine Human Rights Act (5 M.R.S.A. section 4582-A subsection 3) states that it is unlawful housing discrimination for a lessor of property to refuse to permit the use of assistance animals (dogs, cats, etc.) unless it is shown that the assistance animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or the use of the assistance animal would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others or would substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the housing accommodations of others. The use of an assistance animal may not be conditioned on the payment of a fee or security deposit, although the individual with a physical or mental disability is liable for any damage done to the premises by an assistance animal.