Service Animals

October 18, 2018, Acting Deputy Director of the National Park Service issued Policy Memorandum 18-02*

Subject: Use of Service Animals by Visitors with Disabilities – Interim Policy

Definition of Service Animal: A service animal means any dog that is 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 work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Some of the many examples of work or tasks performed may include:

  • assisting individuals who are blind with navigation and other tasks;
  • alerting individuals who are deaf to the presence of people or sounds;
  • pulling a wheelchair;
  • alerting individuals to the presence of allergens or the onset of a seizure;
  • retrieving items;
  • providing physical support and assistance to individuals with mobility disabilities; and
  • helping persons manage psychiatric and neurological disabilities.

Note: The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well- being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
A service animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless (1) these devices interfere with the service animal’s work, or (2) the individual’s disability prevents them from using these devices. In those cases, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective means.

NPS staff may require an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from a facility, service, program, or activity if:
  • the animal is out of control (see 28 CFR 35.136(b)(1) and 28 CFR 36.302(c)(2)(i) and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or
  • the animal is not housebroken.

If there are questions about service animals, please contact the Service-wide Accessibility Program or e-mail us.
There are no plastic bags provided at trailheads for waste products, so please bring your own.

*Full Policy Memorandum is available upon request.

Last updated: April 27, 2021

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