Part 1 – “VA Service Dog Policy Changes” which discusses the updated changes that took place to the VA policy for “Animals on VA Property”.
Part 2 – “HELP! I was denied access with my Service Dog at the VA, what do I do?” discusses why the VA may ask for an animal to be removed from the VA property and how to best handle the situation.
The following is a breakdown of questions that are answered based on Federal Register Document Number: 2015-20182 (click here to read this legal document) which discusses The Department of Veterans Affairs Final Rulings on changes made to 38 CFR Part 1 regarding "Animals on VA Property."
What animals are allowed on VA property?
- Trained Service Animals (defined to only include domestic dogs).
- The current regulation, 38 CFR 1.218 (A)(11)(viii), defines a Service Animal as -
“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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition. Service dogs in training are not considered service animals. This definition applies regardless of whether VA is providing benefits to support a service dog under 38 CFR 17.148.”
- Miniature horses are excluded from being allowed on VA property.
- 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.
Does the VA have breed restrictions regarding Service Animals (Service Dogs)?
Does the VA require that the Service Dog be trained by specific organizations or individuals?
- No, VA access is not dependent on how the service animal was trained or by whom, but instead depends on the service animal's ability to behave in accordance with typical public access standards for public settings.
- IMPORTANT NOTE FOR VETERANS SEEKING VA SERVICE DOG BENEFITS ONLY: VA notes that a service animal must be certified by ADI or IGDF as a requirement for veterans seeking service dog benefits under 38 CFR 17.148, however, these requirements for benefits do not apply with regards to gaining access to VA property with a Service Animal.
Does the VA require certification or proof of training to bring a Service Animal (Service Dog) onto VA property?
Does the VA require proof of health or proof of vaccination to bring a Service Animal (Service Dog) onto VA property?
- No, the VA does not require any proof of health or vaccination to bring a Service Animal (Service Dog) onto VA property.
- The exception is when the animal will be with the individual with the disability at a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) residential program. The individual with the disability utilizing the Service Animal must provide the VA with documentation that confirms the service animal has had a current rabies vaccine as determined by state and local public health requirements, and current core canine vaccines as dictated by local veterinary practice standards (this currently includes vaccinations for distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus-2 only).
- The VA also specifies that it will exclude Service Animals in acute inpatient settings when their presence is not part of a documented treatment plan.
Who can handle a Service Animal (Service Dog) on VA property?
- Current regulations specify that a service animal shall be under the control of the person with the disability or an alternate handler at all times while on VA property.
- If a service animal is not under the control of the person with a disability or an alternate handler, it will be denied access to or removed from VA property.
What is not considered “Work or Tasks” for Service Dogs on VA property?
Animals on VA Propery Regulations PDF Download
Edited by Kelly Morris, Disability Advocate.