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New regulation updates VA policy on service dogs at VA facilities

Posted on VAntage Point 
The Department of Veterans Affairs is revising its regulation regarding the presence of animals on VA property.

Previous VA regulation authorized the presence of seeing-eye dogs on VA property and other animals at the discretion of a VA facility head. The updated regulation will ensure VA practices remain consistent with applicable federal law. It will also assist those entering and working at VA facilities in developing a clear and consistent understanding of the criteria governing facility access for service animals.

Under the updated regulation, service dogs are allowed on VA owned or leased property. Only dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability are considered service animals. There are no restrictions on the breeds of dogs that may be considered service animals.

All other animals will not be permitted in VA facilities, unless expressly allowed as an exception under regulations for activities such as animal-assisted therapy or for other reasons such as law enforcement purposes. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals under these regulations.

VA understands the important role that service animals perform for Veterans and other visitors to VA facilities. This revised regulation will ensure that individuals entering VA facilities have a clear and consistent understanding of the criteria governing access of service animals.

What are examples of work or tasks that a service animal is trained to do or perform?

A service animal is 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 task that the dog has been trained to perform must be directly related to the person’s disability. Examples of such work or tasks include but are not limited to guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, alerting or protecting someone who is having a seizure, and calming a person with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.

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