Companion Animals

A prospective tenant is requesting accommodations for their service animal, but you have a strict “No Pet” policy, what do you do? How do you make sure that you are in compliance with The New Mexico Service Animal Act and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? What are the different types of service animals and why does that matter? Can you deny a request? Can you charge a fee? Here we will take a look at these questions and make sure that you are in compliance with the law.

New Mexico Service Animal Act and the ADA

The New Mexico Service Animal Acts states that public accommodations must allow your “qualified service animal” to accompany you. A “qualified service animal”, is a service dog or service miniature horse that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The laws specifically exclude emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy animals, which are defined as animals that accompany people with disabilities, but do not perform work or tasks for them and do not accompany them at all times.

The ADA states that a service animal is a dog or miniature horse that has been trained to perform disability-related tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Examples of service animals that must be allowed are hearing dogs, guide dogs, psychiatric service animals, and allergen alert animals.

Types of Service Animals

According to the USA Service Dog Registration, there are 4 specific types of service animals and depending on the type of service animal the tenant has, effects their right under federal and state legislation.

1.“ Emotional support animal”, “comfort animal” or “therapy animal” means an animal selected to accompany an individual with a disability that does not work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability and does not accompany at all times an individual with a disability;

2.”Qualified service animal” means any qualified service dog or qualified service miniature horse that has been or is being trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability; but “qualified service animal” does not include a pet, an emotional support animal, a comfort animal or a therapy animal;

3.”Qualified service dog” means a dog that has been trained or is being trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and

4.” Qualified service miniature horse” means a miniature horse that has been trained or is being trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Can You Charge Extra

No. The New Mexico Service Animal Act states “A person shall not be required to pay any additional charges for the qualified service animal, but may be liable for any damage done by the qualified service animal; provided that persons without disabilities would be liable for similar damage”

Can You Ever Deny a Request

Yes. If a service animal poses a direct threat of significant harm to the health or safety of others. Lastly, remember that the ADA prohibits you from asking questions about their disability, as well as, demanding to see certification or other proof of the service animal’s training or status. If it is not apparent to you what the service animal is for, you may ask whether it is a service animal, and what work or task(s) it has been trained to perform.

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