Service Animals in Michigan
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public entities and places of public accommodation such as state and local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations cannot discriminate against persons with disabilities in their programs, services, or activities. Generally, this means that they must allow service animals to accompany persons with disabilities into areas and locations where the public is allowed to go.
Please review our Frequently Asked Questions on Service Animals in Michigan before representing or registering an animal as a service animal in Michigan.
Voluntary Service Animal Identification
In compliance with MCL § 37.303, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) has created and provides voluntary service animal identification to qualifying applicants with disabilities and their trained service animals.
Voluntary registration through this program is free of charge and may not be required as a barrier to entry for a trained service animal or their handler. Registering an animal with MDCR does not entitle accepted applicants to any benefits other than free service animal identification in the form of a patch and ID card.
Individuals who have been required to obtain service animal identification or register a service animal by a landlord, healthcare provider, etc. should file a complaint online with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) or contact the intake unit at 1-800-482-3604.
© Michigan Department of Civil Rights 2015
Notice on Service Animal Fraud: Be advised, those who knowingly submit a fraudulent affidavit to MDCR or fraudulently represent an unqualified animal as a service animal or service animal in-training are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by one or more of the following:
- Imprisonment for not more than 90 days.
- A fine of not more than $500.
- Community service for not more than 30 days.
Identification Disclaimer: The voluntary patch and ID card are meant for visual identification only and do not provide the animal or their handler any legal privileges or protections. In addition, MDCR's Enforcement Unit and the U.S. Department of Justice does not recognize service animal identification, whether provided by MDCR or any other program, as proof that an animal is a service animal.
Before You Apply
Check your eligibility for MDCR's Voluntary Service Animal Identification Program using the following criteria:
- Qualifying Disability: Applicants must have a qualifying disability under the ADA. Applicants are encouraged to review the ADA definition of disability with a licensed or certified healthcare provider or rehabilitation professional before applying.
- Animal Species: Only dogs and miniature horses can be legally recognized as service animals.
- Training Status: Service animals in-training are ineligible for this program. Only animals which have been individually trained in work or a task that directly relates to and mitigates the applicant's disability are eligible. Service animal work and tasks do not include emotional support or companionship (i.e. the presence of the animal), violent protection work, crime deterrence, or general pet behaviors/commands that are untrained or unrelated to mitigating the applicant's disability (i.e. an animal is trained to open doors for someone whose disability does not inhibit them from opening doors).
- Animal Temperament & Behavior: Service animals must be housebroken and under their handler's control or they may be legally removed, regardless of identification. In order for an animal to meet these behavioral requirements, typically, they must be trained for public access. Regular obedience training may not be sufficient as it generally does not prepare an animal to access ADA covered locations such as restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, hospitals, etc. Animals that have not been properly trained can be a danger to themselves as well as those around them. They may also be unreliable to their handler as a medical aide. Please ensure that a service animal is properly trained to assist the applicant in ADA covered locations prior to applying for identification through this program.
- Working Status: Animals that volunteer or work to provide therapeutic benefits to many individuals with or without disabilities-such as therapy animals who visit patients in a hospital-are not covered under the ADA and are ineligible for this program. In addition, service animals that are retired or otherwise no longer working to mitigate a person's disability are ineligible for identification through this program. Previously registered applicants should contact MDCR at 800-482-3604 or email MDCR-ServiceAnimals@michigan.gov when their animal is no longer in service to retire it from the registry.
Applicants, or their designated aide(s), should be prepared to meet the following expectations:
- Care & Supervision: Applicants are responsible for the care and supervision of their service animal. This can include but is not limited to toileting, feeding, grooming, and veterinary care. While service animals are required to be housebroken, it is the handler's responsibility to clean up after their service animal when it relieves itself.
- Answering the Two Questions: If it is not readily apparent what tasks an animal is trained to perform related to a disability, applicants may be asked the following two questions:
- Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
Applicants are not required to disclose their disability, provide documentation or identification, or demonstrate their animal's trained work or task. However, they must provide a sufficient response to verify that the animal is a trained service animal and distinguish it from a pet or other assistance animal. For example, if an individual states that their animal calms them down, this may not be sufficient to distinguish an emotional support animal from a trained service animal. Instead, the individual should provide the trained task their animal performs that calms them down (i.e. the animal is trained to lead their handler to a safe location such as a bench, their car, outside, etc. prior to or at the start of a medical episode).
Applicants who refuse to answer the two questions may have their animal denied access, regardless of whether or not the animal is a trained service animal or has obtained identification through this program.
- Controlling the Animal: Service animals are expected to be under their handler's control at all times in entities covered by the ADA. The animal should not be allowed to wander around, approach others, block busy walkways, or bark repeatedly in quiet spaces such as libraries, movie theatres, etc.
Eligible applicants who are prepared to meet the expectations above may apply for Voluntary Service Animal Identification using the application below:
Applications provided by individuals or organizations other than MDCR may be outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete.
Contact the program with questions at 1-800-482-3604 or MDCR-ServiceAnimals@Michigan.gov.
- U.S. Department of Justice's Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA
- HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) Assistance Animals Resource
- U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Service Animals Resource
- Public Act 144 of 2015 (Service animals, prohibition of assault and interference, refusal of entry of service dog)
- Public Act 145 of 2015 (Service animals, licensing fees, exemptions)
- Public Act 146 of 2015 (Service animals, ID and patches, MDCR powers and duties)
- Public Act 147 of 2015 (Service animals, fraudulent use, reporting, penalties)