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Is SMART required to allow a passenger to travel with a comfort animal?

Friday, October 9, 2020/Categories: ADA

No.  Under the ADA, SMART and other public transit entities are only required to allow service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities. Department of Transportation (DOT) ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.3 define a service animal as an animal “individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.”  If an animal’s only function is to provide emotional support or comfort for the rider, that animal would not fall under the regulatory training-based definition of a service animal. Simply providing comfort is something that animal does passively, by its nature or through the perception of the owner. A service animal may not be excluded unless the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to control it or the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

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