Find out the rules and regulations for service animals in Hillsborough County

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.

Service animals are working animals, not pets.

For additional information concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act email the ADA officer or call (813) 276-8401.

Types of service animals

  • Guide dog for visual impairment
  • Hearing or signal dog for auditory impairment
  • Sensory signal/Social signal dog (a.k.a. SSIG or Autism Service Dog)
  • Seizure response dog
  • Diabetic alert dog
  • Stability assistance dog
  • Psychiatric service dog (usually for PTSD and/or OCD not for "emotional support")

Service Animals and the Law

Do I need to get a license for my service dog?

Yes, all dogs in Hillsborough County must be registered with the County, but residents with service dogs can request registration tag fees to be waived.

Residents requesting waived registration fees must fill out the Request for Waiver form and mail or drop off to Pet Resource Center, along with a copy of the service dog's current, official rabies certificate signed by a Florida veterinarian.

What about a miniature horse as a service animal?

  • The use of trained miniature horses as alternatives to dogs, subject to certain limitations is permitted
  • The miniature horse must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability
  • The miniature horse must be housebroken
  • The handler must have sufficient control of the animal
  • Consideration should be given to the type, size and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can make accommodations
  • See more information about miniature horses

Are emotional support animals considered “service animals” under the ADA?

Emotional support animals are not included in the definition of service animal. However, psychiatric service dogs, trained to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and reduce their effects, does fall under the ADA definition of a service animal.

What laws apply to businesses?

Under the ADA, privately-owned businesses that service the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxi cabs, theaters, libraries, sports facilities, health care facilities and concert halls are required to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animal onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

How can I tell if it’s a service animal or a pet?

  • Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses
  • Some, but not all, are licensed and have identification papers; however, a business shall not require documentation
  • A business owner may not ask the person to disclose their disability, but they may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what task the animal has been trained to perform. Violation of Florida law Chapter 413.08 could result in a misdemeanor of the second degree.

Am I responsible for the service animal while the person with the disability is in my business?

No. The care and supervision of the animal is solely the responsibility of the owner of the animal. The business is not required to provide care, food or a special location for the service animal.

What if a service animal growls or is disruptive to the other people, or is otherwise out of control?

You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

Although you may exclude a service animal that is out of control, you should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy the goods and services on the premises.


ADA Now - Service Animals


Last Modified: 9/25/2023, 12:52:47 PM

Was this page helpful?