October 9, 2009
SERVICE DOG TRAINING AND CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATIONS
By: Meghan Reilly, Legislative Analyst
You asked if condominiums are required to allow service dog trainers to keep dogs over 50 pounds, particularly in light of CGS § 46a-44.
According to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), the law does not require condominiums to allow service dog trainers to keep a dog unless the person was training the dog for their own use or the use of someone in the household.
CGS § 46a-44 gives someone who volunteers to train a guide or assistance dog the same right to use and enter public transportation and places of public accommodation as someone employed to train the dogs.
The law also gives any blind, deaf, or mobility impaired person or any person training a dog as a guide dog or an assistance dog the right to keep the dog with him at all times in any place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement at no extra charge.
According to CHRO, these laws do not apply to a trainer keeping a dog in a condominium.
The law defines a trainer as someone who is employed by and authorized to engage in designated training activities by a guide dog or assistance dog organization that complies with the criteria for membership in a professional association of guide dog or assistance dog schools and who carries photographic identification indicating such employment and authorization (CGS § 46a-64(a)).
CGS § 46A-44 – PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND ACCOMMODATION
CGS § 46a-44 gives the same rights of use and entry to someone who volunteers to train a guide or assistance dog as are already enjoyed by someone employed to train these dogs. Specifically, it allows a volunteer or employee to travel on any mode of public transportation and enter any place of public accommodation offering its services to the public. The law requires a dog and trainer to be admitted to a train or other mode of public transportation and to any place of public accommodation offering services, facilities, or goods to the public, including public buildings, inns, restaurants, hotels, motels, tourist cabins, and places of amusement. The law also applies to dwellings when the trainer is a guest of a lawful occupant, but owner-occupied, two-family houses and room-rentals are exempt. It does not specifically apply to dwellings where the trainer is a lawful occupant.
It makes it a class C misdemeanor to deny a trainer and dog access. For the trainer to enjoy these rights, the sponsoring organization must (1) authorize the volunteer to raise dogs to become guide or assistance dogs and (2) have the dog identified with ID tags, ear tattoos, bandanas on puppies or coats on adult dogs, or leashes and collars.
DISCRIMINATION – RIGHT TO HAVE DOG AND LIABILITY
The law gives any blind, deaf, or mobility impaired person or any person training a dog as a guide dog or an assistance dog the right to keep the dog with him at all times in any place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement at no extra charge. The dog must wear a harness or an orange-colored leash and collar and be in the direct custody of such person. The blind, deaf, or mobility impaired person or person training a dog is liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by his dog (CGS § 46a-64(a)).
It is illegal for businesses that offer their services, facilities, and goods to the public to prevent people with service animals from entering the premises. The law also prohibits such businesses, which include all places of public accommodation, resort, and amusement, from discriminating against them in any way. CHRO has jurisdiction to investigate and to order businesses that violate the law to stop discriminating, pay damages, and take whatever affirmative action it deems necessary. In addition, violators face criminal penalties of up to 30 days in prison, up to a $100 fine, or both.
It is an illegal discriminatory practice for any place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement to:
1. deny anyone full and equal accommodations or discriminate, segregate, or separate on account of physical disability, including blindness;
2. fail or refuse to post a notice, in a conspicuous place, that any blind, deaf, or mobility impaired person accompanied by his guide dog wearing a harness or an orange-colored leash and collar may enter such premises or facilities; or
3. deny full and equal access to any blind, deaf, or mobility impaired person, accompanied by his guide dog or assistance dog, or anyone training such a dog (CGS § 46a-64).
The law defines a “place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement” as any establishment that offers its services, facilities, or goods to the general public, including, but not limited to, any commercial property or building lot on which it is intended that a commercial building will be constructed or offered for sale or rent (CGS § 46a-63(1)).