Maine Service Dog Laws
Under 5 M. R. S. A. § 4553(9-E), for purposes of subchapter 4 (fair housing):
“Service animal” means:
An animal that has been determined necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability by a physician, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner or licensed social worker; or
An animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical or mental disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds, providing reasonable protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or retrieving dropped items; and
For subchapter 5 (public accommodations law):
A 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. Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting an individual who is totally or partially blind with navigation and other tasks, alerting an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing nonviolent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or a telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to an individual with a mobility disability and helping a person with a psychiatric or neurological disability by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. 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.
Note that § 3961-A, (attack on service dog law) adopts either paragraph of the first definition.
Every totally or partially blind or otherwise physically or mentally disabled person has the right to be accompanied by a service dog, especially trained for the purpose.
An especially trained service dog trainer, while engaged in the actual training process and activities of service dogs, has the same rights, privileges and responsibilities described in this section with respect to access to and use of public facilities as are applicable to a blind, visually handicapped or otherwise physically or mentally disabled person.
Every blind or visually handicapped or otherwise physically or mentally disabled individual who has a service animal, such as a service dog, is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations provided for in this section.
Violation by denial or interference with rights is a Class E crime. Violation of this section is a strict liability crime as defined in Title 17-A, section 34, subsection 4-A.
A deaf or hard-of-hearing person not using a guide dog in any of the places, accommodations or conveyances listed in section 1420-A has all of the rights and privileges conferred by law upon other persons. The failure of a deaf or hard-of-hearing person to use a guide dog in those places, accommodations or conveyances does not constitute nor is it evidence of contributory negligence.
Harassment of/Interference with Service Dogs
A person who owns or keeps a dog that attacks, injures or kills a service animal while the service animal is in discharge of its duties commits a civil violation for which a forfeiture of not more than $1,000 may be adjudged.
When a person is adjudicated of a violation of this section, the court shall order the person to make restitution to the owner of the service animal for any veterinary bills and necessary retraining costs or replacement costs of the service animal if it is disabled or killed
The driver of a vehicle approaching a totally or partially blind or otherwise physically disabled pedestrian who is using a service dog, shall take all necessary precautions to avoid injury; any driver who fails to take such precautions is liable in damages for any injury caused the pedestrian.
The driver of a vehicle approaching a deaf or hard-of-hearing person using a properly identified guide dog shall take all necessary precautions to avoid injury to that person and the guide dog. A driver who fails to take such precautions is liable in damages for any injury caused to that person or dog.
If a service dog has not been previously registered or licensed by the municipal clerk to whom the application is being made, the clerk may not register the dog nor issue to its owner or keeper a license and tag that identifies the dog as a service dog unless the applicant presents written evidence to the municipal clerk that the dog meets the definition of “service dog.” For the purpose of this subsection “written evidence” means a service dog certification form approved by the department in consultation with the Maine Human Rights Commission.
A municipal clerk or a veterinary licensing agent shall issue a license upon application and without payment of a license fee required under this section for a service dog owned or kept by a person with a physical or mental disability.
A person who fits a dog with a harness, collar, vest or sign of the type commonly used by blind/disabled person in order to represent that the dog is a service dog when training of the type that guide dogs normally receive has not been provided or when the dog does not meet the definition of “service dog” commits a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $500 may be adjudged.