Texas State Service Dog Laws

The portion of Texas Law which pertains to service dogs is TX HUM RES § 121. Please expand the sections below to read the full text.

Important points:

Summary – Service Dogs in Training are allowed in public places with an approved trainer.

Detailed -HUM RES § 121.003 (i) A service animal in training shall not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer.

In this chapter:

(1) “Assistance animal” and “service animal” mean a canine that is specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability and that is used by a person with a disability .

(2) “Harass” means any conduct that:

(A) is directed at an assistance animal that impedes or interferes with, or is intended to impede or interfere with, the animal’s performance of its duties;  or

(B) places a person with a disability who is using an assistance animal, or a trainer who is training an assistance animal, in danger of injury.

(3) “Housing accommodations” means all or part 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, except a single-family residence whose occupants rent, lease, or furnish for compensation only one room.

(4) “Person with a disability” means a person who has:

(A) a mental or physical disability;

(B) an intellectual or developmental disability;

(C) a hearing impairment;

(D) deafness;

(E) a speech impairment;

(F) a visual impairment;

(G) post-traumatic stress disorder;  or

(H) any health impairment that requires special ambulatory devices or services.

(5) “Public facility ” includes a street, highway, sidewalk, walkway, common carrier, airplane, motor vehicle, railroad train, motor bus, streetcar, boat, or any other public conveyance or mode of transportation;  a hotel, motel, or other place of lodging;  a public building maintained by any unit or subdivision of government;  a retail business, commercial establishment, or office building to which the general public is invited;  a college dormitory or other educational facility;  a restaurant or other place where food is offered for sale to the public;  and any other place of public accommodation, amusement, convenience, or resort to which the general public or any classification of persons from the general public is regularly, normally, or customarily invited.

(6) “White cane” means a cane or walking stick that is metallic or white in color, or white tipped with a contrasting color, and that is carried by a blind person to assist the blind person in traveling from place to place.

(a) Persons with disabilities have the same right as persons without disabilities to the full use and enjoyment of any public facility in the state.

(b) No common carrier, airplane, railroad train, motor bus, streetcar, boat, or other public conveyance or mode of transportation operating within the state may refuse to accept as a passenger a person with a disability because of the person’s disability, nor may a person with a disability be required to pay an additional fare because of his or her use of a service animal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device used to assist a person with a disability in travel.

(c) No person with a disability may be denied admittance to any public facility in the state because of the person’s disability.  No person with a disability may be denied the use of a white cane, assistance animal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device of assistance.

(d) The discrimination prohibited by this section includes a refusal to allow a person with a disability to use or be admitted to any public facility, a ruse or subterfuge calculated to prevent or discourage a person with a disability from using or being admitted to a public facility, and a failure to:

(1) comply with Chapter 469, Government Code;

(2) make reasonable accommodations in policies, practices, and procedures;  or

(3) provide auxiliary aids and services necessary to allow the full use and enjoyment of the public facility.

(e) Regulations relating to the use of public facilities by any designated class of persons from the general public may not prohibit the use of particular public facilities by persons with disabilities who, except for their disabilities or use of assistance animals or other devices for assistance in travel, would fall within the designated class.

(f) It is the policy of the state that persons with disabilities be employed by the state, by political subdivisions of the state, in the public schools, and in all other employment supported in whole or in part by public funds on the same terms and conditions as persons without disabilities, unless it is shown that there is no reasonable accommodation that would enable a person with a disability to perform the essential elements of a job.

(g) Persons 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 and applicable alike to all persons.

(h) A person with a total or partial disability who has or obtains a service animal is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations provided for in this section, and may not be required to pay extra compensation or make a deposit for the animal but is liable for damages done to the premises by the animal except for reasonable wear and tear.

(i) A service animal in training shall not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer.

(j) A person may not assault, harass, interfere with, kill, or injure in any way, or attempt to assault, harass, interfere with, kill, or injure in any way, an assistance animal.

(k) Except as provided by Subsection (l), a person is not entitled to make demands or inquiries relating to the qualifications or certifications of a service animal for purposes of admittance to a public facility except to determine the basic type of assistance provided by the service animal to a person with a disability.

(l) If a person’s disability is not readily apparent, for purposes of admittance to a public facility with a service animal, a staff member or manager of the facility may inquire about:

(1) whether the service animal is required because the person has a disability;  and

(2) what type of work or task the service animal is trained to perform.

(a) A person, including a firm, association, corporation, or other public or private organization, or the agent of the person, who violates a provision of Section 121.003 commits an offense.  An offense under this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by:

(1) a fine of not more than $300;  and

(2) 30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with visual impairments or other disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than one year.

(b) In addition to the penalty provided in Subsection (a), a person, including a firm, association, corporation, or other public or private organization, or the agent of the person, who violates the provisions of Section 121.003 is deemed to have deprived a person with a disability of his or her civil liberties.  The person with a disability deprived of his or her civil liberties may maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction, and there is a conclusive presumption of damages in the amount of at least $300 to the person with a disability.

(a) A person with a disability who uses an assistance animal for assistance in travel is liable for any damages done to the premises or facilities by the animal.

(b) A person with a disability who uses an assistance animal for assistance in travel or auditory awareness shall keep the animal properly harnessed or leashed, and a person who is injured by the animal because of the failure of a person with a disability to properly harness or leash the animal is entitled to maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction under the same law applicable to other causes brought for the redress of injuries caused by animals.

(a) A person who uses a service animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained service animal when training has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by:

(1) a fine of not more than $300;  and

(2) 30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with visual impairments or other disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than one year.

(b) A person who habitually abuses or neglects to feed or otherwise neglects to properly care for his or her assistance animal is subject to seizure of the animal under Subchapter B, Chapter 821,  [FN1] Health and Safety Code.