Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Division of Human Rights

Service Animals

Service animals are animals specially trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. This may include such tasks as:

  • Guiding people who are blind
  • Alerting people who are deaf
  • Pulling wheelchairs
  • Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure

Businesses that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to enter with their service animal. Service animals are working animals, not pets.

Under South Dakota's human rights laws, as well as the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses and organizations serving the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of their facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This law applies to all businesses open to the public, including (but not limited to):

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels and motels
  • Taxis and shuttles
  • Grocery and department stores
  • Hospitals and medical offices
  • Theaters
  • Health clubs
  • Parks and zoos
  • Landlords

Business Guide

Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.

Under South Dakota law, it is an unfair or discriminatory practice for any owner of rights to housing or real property, including a landlord, or any person acting for an owner, to prohibit (by lease or otherwise) the keeping of a service animal by a person who is mentally or physically disabled, blind or deaf in a rented or leased apartment or other residential property.

Allergies and fear of animals are generally not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.

Businesses are allowed to:

  • Ask if an animal is a service animal
  • Ask what tasks the animal has been trained to do
  • Charge for damage caused by a service animal

Businesses are not allowed to:

  • Require special ID cards for the animal
  • Require the customer to have the animal demonstrate the tasks
  • Ask about the person's disability
  • Charge extra fees
  • Isolate the customer from other patrons
  • Treat the customer less favorably than other patrons

Businesses are not required to provide:

  • Care or food for a service animal
  • A special location for the animal to relieve itself

The only times a business may ask a person with a disability to remove his or her service animal from the premises are when the animal:

  • Is out of control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to control it
  • Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others

Even in these cases, the business should give the person with the disability the option to obtain goods and services without having the animal on the premises.

More Information

More information on state laws and regulations may be found in:

South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 20-13-1(4)

SDCL 20-13-20

SDCL 20-13-23.1

SDCL 20-13-23.2

SDCL 20-13-23.4

SDCL 20-13-23.7

Administrative Rule of South Dakota (ARSD) 44:02:07:89

For questions or assistance, contact us.


The information provided on this website should in no way be considered legal advice. For specific information about your legal rights, you should consult your personal attorney. If you have a general question, contact us.