Service Animals

For a definition of a service animal, please see the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) definition

Service animals are welcome in the mainland visitor center and on Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands and do not require prior approval. However, during the western gull nesting season (April through mid-August), service animals may have an unpleasant experience due to the birds being aggressive and territorial with their chicks and eggs.

Service animals are required to have health screening prior to coming ashore on Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, and San Miguel Island. The island fox is a unique, endemic species found on the Channel Islands and nowhere else in the world.  Island fox subspecies are recovering from near extinction due to disease and predation. The recovery plan requires the park to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Because the islands have never been connected to the mainland, a limited number of mammals have reached the islands shores. This increases the risks and consequences of disease transmission.  Ensuring that service animals have been vaccinated as well as received parasitic screening and prophylactic treatment decreases the risk of disease to and from service animals.

Prior to departure to the islands, visitors with must complete the following steps:

  1. Download the Service Animal Health Background Form
  2. Complete the visitor/owner affirmation section.
  3. Veterinarian completes the vaccination affirmation section. All vaccinations must be current and completed at least ONE month ahead of island visit.
  4. Veterinarian completes health exam and parasite screening/prevention affirmation section WITHIN 14 days of island visit.
  5. At least 3 business days prior to trip return form for official signature to
  6. A signed copy will be returned via email. This signed copy must be kept available during your island visit.



Frequently Asked Service Animal Questions

What types of service animals are allowed in Channel Islands National Park?
National Park Service (NPS) policy defines a service animal as a dog 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. The task(s) performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

What do you need to do before visiting Channel Islands National Park with a service dog?
Your service dogs must be current on all canine vaccinations, which include:

  • Canine Distemper Virus
  • Canine Infectious Hepatitis (Canine Adenovirus)
  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Coronavirus
  • Rabies
  • Bordetella/kennel cough
  • Canine Influenza H3N8 & H3N2

All vaccines need to be given a minimum of one month prior to the dog’s arrival on the island. A veterinarian must certify that all vaccines are current and are less than two months from their expiration date.

Within 14 days of the planned island visit, the service dog must be seen by a veterinarian for a physical exam, to screen for parasites, and to ensure parasite prevention is current. The service dog must be negative for heartworms, endoparasites and ectoparasites, and the dog must also be on current preventative treatment for all these parasites.

A veterinarian must complete the “Service Animal Health Background Form” and certify that the dog has met all the above requirements.

What is the next step after a visitor and their service dog’s veterinarian completes the Service Animal Health Background Form?
Submit the completed form via email to at least three business days prior to the planned visit. The form will be signed by a park official and returned so you have it to display on your island visit.

Why are there so many health requirements for service dogs to visit the Channel Islands?
Vaccination and other health requirements are in place for service dogs to ensure the health and recovery of the island fox population. Other than service dogs, no dogs or other pets are allowed on the islands in order to protect island foxes.

Additionally, service dogs could be exposed to unique diseases and parasites that are found on the Channel Islands and not found on the mainland. The vaccination and parasite prevention requirements may help protect and minimize exposure to service dogs. However, the National Park Service cannot be held accountable for the transmission of any island diseases or parasites that may negatively affect service dog health.

What specific vaccines are required and can they be given in combination?
The following vaccines are available as a combination DHPP(LC) vaccine or as separate vaccines:

  • Canine Distemper Virus
  • Canine Infectious Hepatitis (Canine Adenovirus)
  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Coronavirus

The following vaccines should be given individually as killed vaccines.

  • Rabies (1-year or 3-year)
  • Bordetella/kennel cough
  • Canine Influenza H3N8 & H3N2

Why do vaccines need to be given at least one month ahead of a dog’s visit?
Vaccines are given a minimum of one month prior to ensure they are viable and the dog is fully protected. See #2 for additional requirements.

What specific veterinary parasite screening and preventative treatment is necessary for service dogs visiting the islands?
Before going to the islands, service dogs must be negative for heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) by DiroCheck® or SNAP® tests and be screened for microfiliaria. Dogs must then be placed on an appropriate preventative treatment for heartworm and endoparasites (covering hookworm, roundworm, whipworms, and tapeworms), and preventative treatments must stay current for the duration of the island trip. Recommended appropriate preventative treatments are Sentinel, Heartguard Plus, Trifexus, or Interceptor Plus (activity against both heartworm and most intestinal worms).

Service dogs must test negative for endoparasites through fecal testing prior to transport to Island. Fecal samples should be analyzed for endoparasites using both zinc and sugar floatation methods, plus Giardia PCR, Elisa, or fluorescent antibody. Dogs with positive fecal tests should be treated with appropriate anthelmintics and then retested until they have three consecutive fecal samples test negative.

Service dogs must be checked for ectoparasites: fleas, ticks, and mites (including Sarcoptes, Demodex and Otodectes sp). If positive for any ectoparasites, the dogs should be appropriately treated and rechecked until negative. If not currently on a preventative, the dogs should be placed on an appropriate preventative against fleas, ticks, and ear mites before being transported to island. Recommended preventative treatment is Nexgard, Frontline Gold, or Bravecto (fluralaner). For optimal prevention of flea, tick and mite infestation a combination of Frontline and Revolution OR Frontline and the long-acting Seresto collar.

*Please check with your dog's veterinarian before administering any of the above compounds to your dog. Many of them require a prescription and your veterinarian can determine the most appropriate medicines and combination of medications to prevent both internal and external parasites in your dog.

Does a service dog need to be quarantined in order to visit the islands with its owner?
Service dogs that assist people with disabilities do not need to be quarantined prior to their visit to the island, as long as all vaccination and health requirements are met and the Service Animal Health Background Form is completed.

What are the diseases and parasites a service dog could be exposed to during a visit to Channel Islands National Park?
Several canine diseases circulate in island fox populations, including Leptospirosis and a naturally occurring strain of Canine Distemper Virus. There are also numerous endoparasites present on the islands that infect foxes that can also infect dogs. Some of these parasites could have severe health consequences, including Spirocerca, Acanthocephala, tapeworms, hookworms, and lungworms. Ectoparasites, including ticks and fleas, are also common on the islands and carry diseases. Lyme disease and tick-borne relapsing fever also occur.

Dogs could still acquire some parasites and diseases while visiting the islands even if the dogs are on routine monthly parasite preventatives and are vaccinated. NPS cannot be held accountable for any transmission of island diseases or parasites that may negatively affect service dog health.

What additional requirements are necessary for visitors with service dogs while on the island?
The visitor with the service dog is responsible to clean up and properly dispose of their animal’s feces. There are no trash receptacles on the islands, therefore the visitor must bag their dog’s feces and bring it back to the mainland for disposal. If a visitor is unable to accomplish proper feces removal and disposal due to their disability, they must notify the Chief Ranger at or (805) 658-5717 prior to their visit so that arrangements to accomplish this can be made.

The service dog must be kept on a leash at all times, unless it is required that the service dog be off leash to assist its owner due to their disability. The park requests that you report any interactions between your service dog and wildlife on the islands.

Last updated: February 8, 2024

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