California State Service Dog Laws

The portion of California Law which pertains to service dogs is CA CIV § 54. Please expand the sections below to read the full text.

Important points:

Summary – Disabled individuals and individuals authorized/licensed to train service dogs may take dogs into public places for the purpose of training. The dog must be on leash and tagged as a service dog. See case dated 9/12/17.

Detailed – CIV § 54.1(7)(c)Visually impaired or blind persons and persons licensed to train guide dogs for individuals who are visually impaired or blind pursuant to Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or guide dogs as defined in the regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336), and persons who are deaf or hard of hearing and persons authorized to train signal dogs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and other individuals with a disability and persons authorized to train service dogs for individuals with a disability, may take dogs, for the purpose of training them as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs in any of the places specified in subdivisions (a) and (b).  These persons shall ensure that the dog is on a leash and tagged as a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog by identification tag issued by the county clerk, animal control department, or other agency, as authorized by Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 30850) of Division 14 of the Food and Agricultural Code.  In addition, the person shall be liable for any provable damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.

Summary – Interference with a service dog will result in no less than $1,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees.

Detailed – CIV § 54.3(a) Any person or persons, firm or corporation who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the public facilities as specified in Sections 54 and 54.1 or otherwise interferes with the rights of an individual with a disability under Sections 54, 54.1 and 54.2 is liable for each offense for the actual damages and any amount as may be determined by a jury, or the court sitting without a jury, up to a maximum of three times the amount of actual damages but in no case less than one thousand dollars ($1,000), and attorney’s fees as may be determined by the court in addition thereto, suffered by any person denied any of the rights provided in Sections 54, 54.1, and 54.2.  “Interfere,” for purposes of this section, includes, but is not limited to, preventing or causing the prevention of a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog from carrying out its functions in assisting a disabled person.

(a) Individuals with disabilities or medical conditions have the same right as the general public to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices, public facilities, and other public places.

(b) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Disability” means any mental or physical disability as defined in Section 12926 of the Government Code.

(2) “Medical condition” has the same meaning as defined in subdivision (h) of Section 12926 of the Government Code.

(c) A violation of the right of an individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) also constitutes a violation of this section.

(a)(1) Individuals with disabilities shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to accommodations, advantages, facilities, medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices, and privileges of all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motorbuses, streetcars, boats, or any other public conveyances or modes of transportation (whether private, public, franchised, licensed, contracted, or otherwise provided), telephone facilities, adoption agencies, private schools, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, or state or federal regulation, and applicable alike to all persons.

(2) As used in this section, “telephone facilities” means tariff items and other equipment and services that have been approved by the Public Utilities Commission to be used by individuals with disabilities in a manner feasible and compatible with the existing telephone network provided by the telephone companies.

(3) “Full and equal access,” for purposes of this section in its application to transportation, means access that meets the standards of Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336)  [FN1] and federal regulations adopted pursuant thereto, except that, if the laws of this state prescribe higher standards, it shall mean access that meets those higher standards.

(b)(1) Individuals 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, or state or federal regulation, and applicable alike to all persons.

(2) “Housing accommodations” means any real property, or portion 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, but shall not include any accommodations included within subdivision (a) or any single-family residence the occupants of which rent, lease, or furnish for compensation not more than one room in the residence.

(3)(A) A person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation shall not refuse to permit an individual with a disability, at that person’s expense, to make reasonable modifications of the existing rented premises if the modifications are necessary to afford the person full enjoyment of the premises.  However, any modifications under this paragraph may be conditioned on the disabled tenant entering into an agreement to restore the interior of the premises to the condition existing before the modifications.  No additional security may be required on account of an election to make modifications to the rented premises under this paragraph, but the lessor and tenant may negotiate, as part of the agreement to restore the premises, a provision requiring the disabled tenant to pay an amount into an escrow account, not to exceed a reasonable estimate of the cost of restoring the premises.

(B) A person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation shall not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when those accommodations may be necessary to afford individuals with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises.

(4) This subdivision does not require a person renting, leasing, or providing for compensation real property to modify his or her property in any way or provide a higher degree of care for an individual with a disability than for an individual who is not disabled.

(5) Except as provided in paragraph (6), this part does not require a person renting, leasing, or providing for compensation real property, if that person refuses to accept tenants who have dogs, to accept as a tenant an individual with a disability who has a dog.

(6)(A) It shall be deemed a denial of equal access to housing accommodations within the meaning of this subdivision for a person, firm, or corporation to refuse to lease or rent housing accommodations to an individual who is blind or visually impaired on the basis that the individual uses the services of a guide dog, an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing on the basis that the individual uses the services of a signal dog, or to an individual with any other disability on the basis that the individual uses the services of a service dog, or to refuse to permit such an individual who is blind or visually impaired to keep a guide dog, an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to keep a signal dog, or an individual with any other disability to keep a service dog on the premises.

(B) Except in the normal performance of duty as a mobility or signal aid, this paragraph does not prevent the owner of a housing accommodation from establishing terms in a lease or rental agreement that reasonably regulate the presence of guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs on the premises of a housing accommodation, nor does this paragraph relieve a tenant from any liability otherwise imposed by law for real and personal property damages caused by such a dog when proof of the damage exists.

(C)(i) As used in this subdivision, “guide dog” means a guide dog that was trained by a person licensed under Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or as defined in the regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336).

(ii) As used in this subdivision, “signal dog” means a dog trained to alert an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds.

(iii) As used in this subdivision, “service dog” means a dog individually trained to the requirements of the individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.

(7) It shall be deemed a denial of equal access to housing accommodations within the meaning of this subdivision for a person, firm, or corporation to refuse to lease or rent housing accommodations to an individual who is blind or visually impaired, an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, or other individual with a disability on the basis that the individual with a disability is partially or wholly dependent upon the income of his or her spouse, if the spouse is a party to the lease or rental agreement.  This subdivision does not prohibit a lessor or landlord from considering the aggregate financial status of an individual with a disability and his or her spouse.

(c) Visually impaired or blind persons and persons licensed to train guide dogs for individuals who are visually impaired or blind pursuant to Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or guide dogs as defined in the regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336), and persons who are deaf or hard of hearing and persons authorized to train signal dogs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and other individuals with a disability and persons authorized to train service dogs for individuals with a disability, may take dogs, for the purpose of training them as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs in any of the places specified in subdivisions (a) and (b).  These persons shall ensure that the dog is on a leash and tagged as a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog by identification tag issued by the county clerk, animal control department, or other agency, as authorized by Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 30850) of Division 14 of the Food and Agricultural Code.  In addition, the person shall be liable for any provable damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.

(d) A violation of the right of an individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) also constitutes a violation of this section, and this section does not limit the access of any person in violation of that act.

(e) This section does not preclude the requirement of the showing of a license plate or disabled placard when required by enforcement units enforcing disabled persons parking violations pursuant to Sections 22507.8 and 22511.8 of the Vehicle Code.

(a) Every individual with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog, especially trained for the purpose, in any of the places specified in Section 54.1 without being required to pay an extra charge or security deposit for the guide dog, signal dog, or service dog.  However, the individual shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.

(b) Individuals who are blind or otherwise visually impaired and persons licensed to train guide dogs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired pursuant to Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or as defined in regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336), [FN1] and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and persons authorized to train signal dogs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and individuals with a disability and persons who are authorized to train service dogs for the individuals with a disability may take dogs, for the purpose of training them as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs in any of the places specified in Section 54.1 without being required to pay an extra charge or security deposit for the guide dog, signal dog, or service dog.  However, the person shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.  These persons shall ensure the dog is on a leash and tagged as a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog by an identification tag issued by the county clerk, animal control department, or other agency, as authorized by Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 30850) of Title 14 of the Food and Agricultural Code.

(c) A violation of the right of an individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) also constitutes a violation of this section, and this section does not limit the access of any person in violation of that act.

(d) As used in this section, the terms “guide dog,” “signal dog,” and “service dog ” have the same meanings as defined in Section 54.1.

(e) This section does not preclude the requirement of the showing of a license plate or disabled placard when required by enforcement units enforcing disabled persons parking violations pursuant to Sections 22507.8 and 22511.8 of the Vehicle Code.

(a) Any person or persons, firm or corporation who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the public facilities as specified in Sections 54 and 54.1 or otherwise interferes with the rights of an individual with a disability under Sections 54, 54.1 and 54.2 is liable for each offense for the actual damages and any amount as may be determined by a jury, or the court sitting without a jury, up to a maximum of three times the amount of actual damages but in no case less than one thousand dollars ($1,000), and attorney’s fees as may be determined by the court in addition thereto, suffered by any person denied any of the rights provided in Sections 54, 54.1, and 54.2.  “Interfere,” for purposes of this section, includes, but is not limited to, preventing or causing the prevention of a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog from carrying out its functions in assisting a disabled person.

(b) Any person who claims to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice in violation of Section 54, 54.1, or 54.2 may also file a verified complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing pursuant to Section 12948 of the Government Code.  The remedies in this section are nonexclusive and are in addition to any other remedy provided by law, including, but not limited to, any action for injunctive or other equitable relief available to the aggrieved party or brought in the name of the people of this state or of the United States.

(c) A person may not be held liable for damages pursuant to both this section and Section 52 for the same act or failure to act.

A blind or otherwise visually impaired pedestrian shall have all of the rights and privileges conferred by law upon other persons in any of the places, accommodations, or conveyances specified in Sections 54 and 54.1, notwithstanding the fact that the person is not carrying a predominantly white cane (with or without a red tip), or using a guide dog.  The failure of a blind or otherwise visually impaired person to carry such a cane or to use such a guide dog shall not constitute negligence per se.
Each year, the Governor shall publicly proclaim October 15 as White Cane Safety Day.  He or she shall issue a proclamation in which:

(a) Comments shall be made upon the significance of this chapter.

(b) Citizens of the state are called upon to observe the provisions of this chapter and to take precautions necessary to the safety of disabled persons.

(c) Citizens of the state are reminded of the policies with respect to disabled persons declared in this chapter and he urges the citizens to cooperate in giving effect to them.

(d) Emphasis shall be made on the need of the citizenry to be aware of the presence of disabled persons in the community and to keep safe and functional for the disabled the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, public facilities, other public places, places of public accommodation, amusement and resort, and other places to which the public is invited, and to offer assistance to disabled persons upon appropriate occasions.

(e) It is the policy of this state to encourage and enable disabled persons to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state and to engage in remunerative employment.

As used in this part, “visually impaired” includes blindness and means having central visual acuity not to exceed 20/200 in the better eye, with corrected lenses, as measured by the Snellen test, or visual acuity greater than 20/200, but with a limitation in the field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle not greater than 20 degrees.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this part shall not be construed to require zoos or wild animal parks to allow guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs to accompany individuals with a disability in areas of the zoo or park where zoo or park animals are not separated from members of the public by a physical barrier.  As used in this section, “physical barrier” does not include an automobile or other conveyance.

(b) Any zoo or wild animal park that does not permit guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs to accompany individuals with a disability therein shall maintain, free of charge, adequate kennel facilities for the use of guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs belonging to these persons.  These facilities shall be of a character commensurate with the anticipated daily attendance of individuals with a disability.  The facilities shall be in an area not accessible to the general public, shall be equipped with water and utensils for the consumption thereof, and shall otherwise be safe, clean, and comfortable.

(c) Any zoo or wild animal park that does not permit guide dogs to accompany blind or visually impaired persons therein shall provide free transportation to blind or visually impaired persons on any mode of transportation provided for members of the public.

Each zoo or wild animal park that does not permit service dogs to accompany individuals with a disability shall provide free transportation to individuals with a disability on any mode of transportation provided for a member of the public in cases where the person uses a wheelchair and it is readily apparent that the person is unable to maintain complete or independent mobility without the aid of the service dog.

(d) Any zoo or wild animal park that does not permit guide dogs to accompany blind or otherwise visually impaired persons therein shall provide sighted escorts for blind or otherwise visually impaired persons if they are unaccompanied by a sighted person.

(e) As used in this section, “wild animal park” means any entity open to the public on a regular basis, licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act as an exhibit, and operating for the primary purposes of conserving, propagating, and exhibiting wild and exotic animals, and any marine, mammal, or aquatic park open to the general public.