Does the ADA exempt service dogs that work off leash form local leash laws?

I work with a service dog that works off leash. I am Aspergeric, a form of mild autism, who works with a physiological service dog. The dog has been trained over several years to function as a service dog. What the dog does is provide feed back and interaction which helps me control secondary characteristics of the Aspergers. Essentially by maintaining control of the dog I can control allot of characteristics that make it difficult to interact with people. The dog lets me know when I am acting inappropriately. The dog travels with me all the time including when I work, socialize, and recreate.

The problem I have now is that I was ticketed for violating a leash law and told to leave a mountain bike riding area in Boulder County, Colorado, because the Officer claimed that dogs were prohibited from even being in the cars in the park's parking area even service dogs. Essentially I had let the dog out of the car to exercise some. In the past the dog would accompany me on rides but he is getting too old for this now. The dog still wants to accompany me on the rides and will bark if I just leave him in the car (The car is specially insulated and the windows stay down so there is no danger the dog will overheat in the car.) . What I found I could do, was to ride a short way with the dog tiring some and he will not bark when I left in the car for my ride. It was when I was doing this that I got ticketed for a Leash Law violation and ordered to leave the park by a Boulder County Sheriff Officer. The Officer did this even after I showed him the paper work from my physiologist showing that my dog was a service dog and I explained what I was doing.

I know that the ADA allows me to have the dog in the park. The problem I have now is the leash law. So far I have found only one out state case that states that a service dog that is working and is under control is not a dog at large. Does anybody have any idea how the ADA allows for leash law exemption?


CStohler
  • <cite class="sig">H.Urfer</cite>

    A Service Dog WORKING off-leash is just that .. a Service Dog. If your disability requires that the dog be unleashed while working (performing tasks) then I'm certain you could reasonably argue that in a court of law. However, just needing a Service Dog, having one working with you and deciding not to leash it probably isn't enough.

    A Service Dog unaccompanied, not working, or unaccompanied in a car is… just a dog and is subject to any laws any other dog would be subject to.

    The ADA makes no proclamations regarding whether the dog must be on or off-leash. It probably didn't occur to them.

    Depending on the merits of your case, the ACLU is looking for instances of discrimination to those using Service Dogs to take to court.

    *I* would dispute the ticket as a chance to educate the officer and the court system… but I have MS… and a neurologist who recommended using a service dog. I have no clue what the courts would think of a physiologist signing a note for someone with Asperger's.

    (You might want to ask this in the legal section)

    Edit: I wonder how Elaine proposes a Service Dog kept at the disabled person's side is supposed to go to retrieve medication, open a door, turn off a light etc… these are things that are not always within reach of a leash.

  • <cite class="sig">OSarnes</cite>

    I just watched a video clip where walmart kicked a customer out because her service dog was a pit bull, and "there were children present" according to the store employee that kicked her out. National Laws allow you to take service dogs anywhere, legally. Because in the eyes of the law, that dog is no longer a "dog", it is a crucial aid for you or anyone else in need of a service dog. So, no way could an officer tell you that not even service dogs are allowed in parking areas.

    That being said, I am unsure of leash laws. Seeing as how in the eyes of the law, service dogs aren't viewed as "dogs", I don't think they fall under the same laws.

    The fine hippy town of Boulder views dogs differently as well, though. In boulder, a dog is not viewed as property, but is actually legally viewed as a living companion. This changes a LOT of laws (and makes many common things, like euthanasia, VERY difficult for vets to perform. The law is worded in a way that you could view euthanasia as illegal in Boulder). And I have to say for this case, I agree with the officer. No dog should be left in the car. Hey, I live 30 minutes from boulder. Our weather has been hot lately. A little cooler with some cloud cover most days, but definetly not cool enough that it would be safe for a dog in the car for extended periods of time. Now, if you can survive long enough away from your dog to take a bike ride, I think you could survive long enough to leave him alone. That is just my view on the matter, and I do not understand the extent of your condition, so I can not truly make a long judgment about it.

    So sorry, I can not fully answer your question, as I am not sure what the leash laws are. I just know Boulder views dogs VERY differently from most other cities/states/countys.

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