What to Know About Service Dogs in North Carolina
Although residents of North Carolina with service animals are allowed to bring their service pets into all public accommodations, the law does not clearly define what kind of animals qualify as service animals. However, under guidelines adopted by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the state's definition of a service pet is specifically a trained dog that performs tasks benefiting a disabled individual.
Miniature horses could also qualify for NC as service pets. Also, tasks the service animal is trained to do must directly relate to a person's recognized disability. If you have a service animal, your Jacksonville vet wants to remind you to bring your pet in for annual wellness checks, keep vaccinations up to date and use parasite preventives all year long.
Types of Service Dogs
Dogs are trained to assist severely visually impaired/blind people walk without help from other people by maneuvering their owners around objects and other individuals. For the hearing impaired, service dogs can be taught to alert their owners if they hear an alarm, siren or other important sound indicating danger or emergency. Wheelchair-bound people or those with restricted mobility rely on service dogs to push elevator/door buttons, retrieve an item they dropped or can't reach and offer support as they walk.
One type of service dog not recognized by North Carolina legislature are emotional support pets meant to provide companionship, relieve anxiety/panic attacks and comfort owners when they feel upset. Because emotional support animals are not trained to do disability-specific tasks, public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, and recreational facilities are not mandated to permit emotional support service animals in their buildings.
Rules for North Carolina Service Animals and Owners
To bring a service animal into a public facility, you should obtain and display an HHS-issued tag stating your dog has been registered as a service pet or show your service dog is trained to perform tasks associated with your disability. However, service pet owners are not required to register their pet.
Public accommodation places cannot charge you extra for bringing your service animal with you but they can expect you to pay for damages caused by a service dog. Finally, if a service dog is posing a threat to the safety and health of others (lunging, growling, acting aggressive), public accommodations can deny the individual and their dog entrance or ask them to leave if they are already there and the dog starts behaving erratically.
Contact Us Today
The Animal Hospital of Onslow County offers spay and neuter, emergency vet, vaccinations and a variety of other services to keep your pets happy and healthy. To schedule an appointment with a veterinarian, call (910) 353-1722 today. We serve residents of Jacksonville, Camp Lejeune, Midway Park, Maysville, Hubert and surrounding areas.