Service Animals

service animals

Service animals are allowed in all facilities and on all trails unless an area has been closed by the superintendent to protect park resources.

Definition of Service Animal

The 2010 revision to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a “service animal” as an animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

Animals that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including animals that are used to provide comfort or emotional support (e.g. therapy animals), are considered pets and not service animals.

Service animals in training and pets are subject to the park’s pet regulations and are not allowed on trails or more than 30 feet from any road, picnic area or campground. Falsely portraying a pet as a service animal is considered fraud and is subject to federal prosecution under 36 CFR. 2.32(a)(3)(ii).

A national park is a refuge for the animals and plants living in it. Even if your pet does not chase deer, birds, or ground critters, it still presents the image and scent of a historical predator. The result is stress on the native wildlife. In addition, predators such as owls, coyotes, mountain lions, and javelinas can and do kill pets. Even large dogs cannot defend themselves against predators. Contagious diseases can also be transmitted between your dog and native coyotes and other wild animals.

 

Things to Know

Where domestic animals and wildlife overlap there is a possibility of exchanging diseases between the two groups. Domestic dogs can introduce disease into wildlife habitats and the park's canids (coyotes, and foxes) are vulnerable to domestic diseases such as canine distemper, parvo virus, rabies, mange,etc. Likewise it is possible for domestic dogs to acquire these diseases from wild animals.

To further prevent the spread of disease:

  • Service animals must always be leashed or harnessed, under control, and attended at all times.
  • Pet food can attract bears and should be stored accordingly. Food and food containers must never be left unattended and must be kept out of reach of wildlife.
  • Service animal fecal matter must be picked up and disposed of properly. Fecal matter should be disposed of in a trash receptacle, toilet, pit toilet, or if none of those are accessible (such as in the backcountry) it should be buried in a cat hole dug a minimum of 6 inches deep and a 200 feet from water sources, campsites or trails.

Last updated: September 12, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129

Phone:

432-477-2251

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