Public Access Laws

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Texas Law on Assistance Animals

Texas Human Resources Code, Chapter 121
http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/docs/HR/htm/HR.121.htm

Table of Contents:

Definitions

  1. “Assistance animal” means an animal that is specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability and that:
    1. is used by a person with a disability who has satisfactorily completed a specific course of training in the use of the animal (Person is trained); and
    2. has been trained by an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities as reputable and competent to provide animals with training of this type. (dog is trained)
  2. “Harass” means any conduct that:
    1. is directed at an assistance animal that impedes or interferes with, or is intended to impede or interfere with, the animal’s performance of its duties; or
    2. places a person with a disability who is using an assistance animal, or a trainer who is training an assistance animal, in danger of injury.
  3. “Housing accommodations” means all or part of real property that is used or occupied or is intended, arranged, or designed to be used or occupied as the home, residence, or sleeping place of one or more human beings, except a single-family residence whose occupants rent, lease, or furnish for compensation only one room.
  4. “Person with a disability” means a person who has a mental or physical disability, including mental retardation, hearing impairment, deafness, speech impairment, visual impairment, or any health impairment that requires special ambulatory devices or services.
  5. “Public facilities” includes a street, highway, sidewalk, walkway, common carrier, airplane, motor vehicle, railroad train, motor bus, streetcar, boat, or any other public conveyance or mode of transportation; a hotel, motel, or other place of lodging; a public building maintained by any unit or subdivision of government; a building to which the general public is invited; a college dormitory or other educational facility; a restaurant or other place where food is offered for sale to the public; and any other place of public accommodation, amusement, convenience, or resort to which the general public or any classification of persons from the general public is regularly, normally, or customarily invited.
  6. “White cane” means a cane or walking stick that is metallic or white in color, or white tipped with a contrasting color, and that is carried by a blind person to assist the blind person in traveling from place to place.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2425, ch. 842, art. 1, sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 3310, ch. 865, sec. 1, eff. Aug. 31, 1981; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 278, sec.1, eff. June 5, 1985; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 890, sec.1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 649, sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Section 121.003.

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Discrimination Prohibited

  1. Persons with disabilities have the same right as the able-bodied to the full use and enjoyment of any public facility in the state. (Person can take assistance animal to these places:) Remember : it’s not the dog’s right to go, it’s the person’s right to have the dog w/ them. It’s the right of the person, not the dog.
  2. No common carrier, airplane, railroad train, motor bus, streetcar, boat, or other public conveyance or mode of transportation operating within the state may refuse to accept as a passenger a person with a disability solely because of the person’s disability, nor may a person with a disability be required to pay an additional fare because of his or her use of an assistance animal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device used to assist a person with a disability in travel. (Person can take dog on public transport, e.g. bus, cab, etc.)
  3. No person with a disability may be denied admittance to any public facility in the state because of the person’s disability. No person with a disability may be denied the use of a white cane, assistance animal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device of assistance. (Person can take dog into public places.)
  4. The discrimination prohibited by this section includes a refusal to allow a person with a disability to use or be admitted to any public facility, a ruse or subterfuge calculated to prevent or discourage a person with a disability from using or being admitted to a public facility, and a failure to:
    1. comply with Article 9102, Revised Statutes;
    2. make reasonable accommodations in policies, practices, and procedures; or
    3. provide auxiliary aids and services necessary to allow the full use and enjoyment of the public facility.
  5. Regulations relating to the use of public facilities by any designated class of persons from the general public may not prohibit the use of particular public facilities by persons with disabilities who, except for their disabilities or use of assistance animals or other devices for assistance in travel, would fall within the designated class.
  6. It is the policy of the state that persons with disabilities be employed by the state, by political subdivisions of the state, in the public schools, and in all other employment supported in whole or in part by public funds on the same terms and conditions as persons without disabilities, unless it is shown that there is no reasonable accommodation that would enable a person with a disability to perform the essential elements of a job.
  7. Persons with disabilities shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or compensation in this state, subject to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons. ((Person can have living assistance animal with them in rented property, e.g. apartment, hotel room, etc.)
  8. A person with a total or partial disability who has or obtains an assistance animal is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations provided for in this section, and may not be required to pay extra compensation for the animal but is liable for damages done to the premises by the animal. (No extra charge for assistance animal, e.g. pet deposit. Although person is liable for damage done by animal.)
  9. An assistance animal in training shall not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer who is an agent of an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons who are disabled as reputable and competent to provide training for assistance animals, and/or their handlers. (Trainers can take assistance animals into public facilities ? not just the person w/ the disability.)
  10. A person may not assault, harass, interfere with, kill, or injure in any way, or attempt to assault, harass, interfere with, kill, or injure in any way, an assistance animal.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2426, ch. 842, art. 1, sec.1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 3310, ch. 865, sec 2, eff. Aug. 31, 1981; Acts 1983, 68th Leg., 1st C.S., p. 57, ch. 7, sec10.03(c), eff. Sept. 23, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 278, sec 2, eff. June 5, 1985; Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 249,sec 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1989; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 890, sec 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 649, sec 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 261, sec 1, eff. May 22, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 710, sec 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.Section 121.004.

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Penalties for and Damages Resulting from Discrimination

  1. A person, firm, association, corporation, or other organization, or the agent of a person, firm, association, corporation, or other organization who violates a provision of Section 121.003 commits an offense. An offense under this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $300 or more than $1,000. (This is the misdemeanor section. This makes it something the police and D.A.’s office can pursue.)
  2. In addition to the penalty provided in Subsection (a) of this section, a person, firm, association, corporation, or other organization, or the agent of a person, firm, association, corporation, or other organization, who violates the provisions of Section 121.003 of this chapter is deemed to have deprived a person with a disability of his or her civil liberties. The person with a disability deprived of his or her civil liberties may maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction, and there is a conclusive presumption of damages in the amount of at least $100 to the person with a disability.(Also grounds for civil suit.)

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2427, ch. 842, art. 1, sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 890, sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 649, sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Section 121.005.

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Responsibilities of Persons With Disabilities

  1. A person with a disability who uses an assistance animal for assistance in travel is liable for any damages done to the premises or facilities by the animal.
  2. A person with a disability who uses an assistance animal for assistance in travel or auditory awareness shall keep the animal properly harnessed or leashed, and a person who is injured by the animal because of the failure of a person with a disability to properly harness or leash the animal is entitled to maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction under the same law applicable to other causes brought for the redress of injuries caused by animals. (Assistance animal must be properly leashed or harnessed- no loose dogs, monkeys, etc. If the animal injures someone, they can sue.)

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2427, ch. 842, art. 1, sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 3310, ch. 865, sec. 3, eff. Aug. 31, 1981; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 278, sec. 3, eff. June 5, 1985; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 649, sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.Section 121.006

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Penalties for Improper Use of Assistance Animals

  1. A person who uses an assistance animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained assistance animal when training of the type described in Section 121.002(1)(B) of this chapter has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200. (Faking that it’s an assistance animal is a criminal offense.)
  2. A person who habitually abuses or neglects to feed or otherwise neglects to properly care for his or her assistance animal is subject to seizure of the animal under Subchapter B, Chapter 821, Health and Safety Code.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2427, ch. 842, art. 1, sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 3311, ch. 865, sec. 4, eff. Aug. 31, 1981; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 278, sec. 4, eff. June 5, 1985; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 649, sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

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Americans with Disabilities Act

  • The ADA itself says “reasonable accommodations”
  • It has been interpreted by the courts that reasonable accommodations includes “service animals”
  • There is no requirement for ID, certification, where the animal got trained, who trained it, etc.
  • What they do examine is the animal’s training.

While ADA does not specify standards of training, one thing that could reasonably be considered is the standards set out by Assistance Dogs International, the industry association of organizations that train Assistance Dogs. www.adionline.org

Information is available on our site as well under Training Standards.