Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Letters


August 16, 1999

Dr. Bonita M. Bergin


The Assistance Dog Institute

P.O. Box 2334

Rohnert Park, California 94927

Re: DJ 202-11-0

Dear Dr. Bergin:

This letter is in response to your request that the Department of Justice change the language of its regulations implementing titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 28 C.F.R. pts. 35, 36. You requested that the regulatory term "service animal" be replaced by "assistance animal."

As you correctly note, we received a letter dated January 1996, in which xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx made the same request. You infer that we did not respond adequately to xxx xxxxxxxxx. In a letter dated October 17, 1997, then-Acting Assistant Attorney General Isabelle Katz Pinzler clearly indicated that the Department carefully considered the issue and decided to retain the term "service animal" in its regulations. A copy of her letter is attached for your reference.

You have not offered any additional information that would cause us to reconsider our decision. We believe that we best serve the interests of people with disabilities by the consistent use of the term "service animal," along with our broad interpretation of that term to include:

any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.

28 C.F.R. § 36.104. A change of terminology would likely engender confusion among businesses and State and local governments.

If you have any remaining questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our toll-free ADA Information Line,

1-800-514-0301 (voice), or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).


Bill Lann Lee

Acting Assistant

Attorney General

Civil Rights Division


Updated August 6, 2015

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