North Carolina State Service Dog Laws

The full text of North Carolina law can be found here. Please expand the sections below to read more about the laws that pertain to Service Animals.

Important points:

Summary – Service Dogs in Training may be taken into public places by a trainer for the purpose of training and should be identified as being in training.

Detailed – NC GEN ST § 168-4.2 (b) An animal in training to become a service animal may be taken into any of the places listed in G.S. 168-3 for the purpose of training when the animal is accompanied by a person who is training the service animal and the animal wears a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies the animal as a service animal in training.  The trainer shall be liable for any damage caused by the animal while using a public conveyance or on the premises of a public facility or other place listed in G.S. 168-3.

(a) The following definitions apply in this section:

(1) Assistance animal.–An animal that is trained and may be used to assist a “person with a disability” as defined in G.S. 168A-3.  The term “assistance animal” is not limited to a dog and includes any animal trained to assist a person with a disability as provided in Article 1 of Chapter 168 of the General Statutes.

(2) Law enforcement agency animal.–An animal that is trained and may be used to assist a law enforcement officer in the performance of the officer’s official duties.

(3) Harm.–Any injury, illness, or other physiological impairment;  or any behavioral impairment that impedes or interferes with duties performed by a law enforcement agency animal or an assistance animal.

(3a) Search and rescue animal.–An animal that is trained and may be used to assist in a search and rescue operation.

(4) Serious harm.–Harm that does any of the following:

a. Creates a substantial risk of death.

b. Causes maiming or causes substantial loss or impairment of bodily function.

c. Causes acute pain of a duration that results in substantial suffering.

d. Requires retraining of the law enforcement agency animal or assistance animal.

e. Requires retirement of the law enforcement agency animal or assistance animal from performing duties.

(a1) Any person who knows or has reason to know that an animal is a law enforcement agency animal, an assistance animal, or a search and rescue animal and who willfully kills the animal is guilty of a Class H felony.

(b) Any person who knows or has reason to know that an animal is a law enforcement agency animal, an assistance animal, or a search and rescue animal and who willfully causes or attempts to cause serious harm to the animal is guilty of a Class I felony.

(c) Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who knows or has reason to know that an animal is a law enforcement agency animal, an assistance animal, or a search and rescue animal and who willfully causes or attempts to cause harm to the animal is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(d) Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who knows or has reason to know that an animal is a law enforcement agency animal, an assistance animal, or a search and rescue animal and who willfully taunts, teases, harasses, delays, obstructs, or attempts to delay or obstruct the animal in the performance of its duty as a law enforcement agency animal, an assistance animal, or a search and rescue animal is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(d1) A defendant convicted of a violation of this section shall be ordered to make restitution to the person with a disability, or to a person, group, or law enforcement agency who owns or is responsible for the care of the law enforcement agency animal or search and rescue animal for any of the following as appropriate:

(1) Veterinary, medical care, and boarding expenses for the law enforcement agency animal, the assistance animal, or the search and rescue animal.

(2) Medical expenses for the person with the disability relating to the harm inflicted upon the assistance animal.

(3) Replacement and training or retraining expenses for the law enforcement agency animal, the assistance animal, or the search and rescue animal.

(4) Expenses incurred to provide temporary mobility services to the person with a disability.

(5) Wages or income lost while the person with a disability is with the assistance animal receiving training or retraining.

(6) The salary of the law enforcement agency animal handler as a result of the lost services to the agency during the time the handler is with the law enforcement agency animal receiving training or retraining.

(6a) The salary of the search and rescue animal handler as a result of the search and rescue services lost during the time the handler is with the search and rescue animal receiving training or retraining.

(7) Any other expense reasonably incurred as a result of the offense.

(e) This section shall not apply to a licensed veterinarian whose conduct is in accordance with Article 11 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes.

(f) Self-defense is an affirmative defense to a violation of this section.

(g) Nothing in this section shall affect any civil remedies available for violation of this section.

At any street, road or highway crossing or intersection, where the movement of traffic is not regulated by a traffic officer or by traffic-control signals, any blind or partially blind pedestrian shall be entitled to the right-of-way at such crossing or intersection, if such blind or partially blind pedestrian shall extend before him at arm’s length a cane white in color or white tipped with red, or if such person is accompanied by a guide dog.  Upon receiving such a signal, all vehicles at or approaching such intersection or crossing shall come to a full stop, leaving a clear lane through which such pedestrian may pass, and such vehicle shall remain stationary until such blind or partially blind pedestrian has completed the passage of such crossing or intersection.  At any street, road or highway crossing or intersection, where the movement of traffic is regulated by traffic-control signals, blind or partially blind pedestrians shall be entitled to the right-of-way if such person having such cane or accompanied by a guide dog shall be partly across such crossing or intersection at the time the traffic-control signals change, and all vehicles shall stop and remain stationary until such pedestrian has completed passage across the intersection or crossing.
Nothing contained in this Part shall be construed to deprive any blind or partially blind person not carrying a cane white in color or white tipped with red, or being accompanied by a guide dog, of any of the rights and privileges conferred by law upon pedestrians crossing streets and highways, nor shall the failure of such blind or partially blind person to carry a cane white in color or white tipped with red, or to be accompanied by a guide dog, upon the streets, roads, highways or sidewalks of this State, be held to constitute or be evidence of contributory negligence by virtue of this Part.
(a) Every person with a disability has the right to be accompanied by a service animal trained to assist the person with his or her specific disability in any of the places listed in G.S. 168-3, and has the right to keep the service animal on any premises the person leases, rents, or uses.  The person qualifies for these rights upon the showing of a tag, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, under G.S. 168-4.3, stamped “NORTH CAROLINA SERVICE ANIMAL PERMANENT REGISTRATION” and stamped with a registration number, or upon a showing that the animal is being trained or has been trained as a service animal.  The service animal may accompany a person in any of the places listed in G.S. 168-3.

(b) An animal in training to become a service animal may be taken into any of the places listed in G.S. 168-3 for the purpose of training when the animal is accompanied by a person who is training the service animal and the animal wears a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies the animal as a service animal in training.  The trainer shall be liable for any damage caused by the animal while using a public conveyance or on the premises of a public facility or other place listed in G.S. 168-3.

The Department of Health and Human Services, shall adopt rules for the registration of service animals and shall issue registrations to a person with a disability who makes application for registration of an animal that serves as a service animal or to a person who is training an animal as a service animal.

The rules adopted regarding registration shall require that the animal be trained or be in training as a service animal. The rules shall provide that the certification and registration need not be renewed while the animal is serving or training with the person applying for the registration.  No fee may be charged the person for the application, registration, tag, or replacement in the event the original is lost.  The Department of Health and Human Services may, by rule, issue a certification or accept the certification issued by the appropriate training facilities.

Neither a person with a disability who is accompanied by a service animal, nor a person who is training a service animal, may be required to pay any extra compensation for the animal.  The person has all the responsibilities and liabilities placed on any person by any applicable law when that person owns or uses any animal, including liability for any damage done by the animal.
It is unlawful to disguise an animal as a service animal or service animal in training.  It is unlawful to deprive a person with a disability or a person training a service animal of any rights granted the person pursuant to G.S. 168-4.2 through G.S. 168-4.4, or of any rights or privileges granted the general public with respect to being accompanied by animals or to charge any fee for the use of the service animal.  Violation of this section shall be a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Dogs impounded by a local dog warden that are not redeemed shall be donated to a nonprofit agency engaged in the training of service dogs, upon the agency’s request.