Virginia Service Dog Laws
Under criminal interference law:
Guide or leader dog” means a dog that:
- serves as a dog guide for a blind person as defined
- serves as a listener for a deaf or hard-of-hearing person as defined
- provides support or assistance for a physically disabled or handicapped person
Under Chapter 9 – Rights of Persons with Disabilities:
“Hearing dog” means a dog trained to alert its owner by touch to sounds of danger and sounds to which the owner should respond.
“Service dog” means a dog trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a mobility-impaired or otherwise disabled person. The work or tasks performed by a service dog shall be directly related to the individual’s disability or disorder. Examples of work or tasks include 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, carrying items, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability, and preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship shall not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
“Three-unit service dog team” means a team consisting of a trained service dog, a disabled person, and a person who is an adult and who has been trained to handle the service dog.
Every totally or partially blind person shall have the right to be accompanied by a dog, in harness, trained as a guide dog, every deaf or hearing-impaired person shall have the right to be accompanied by a dog trained as a hearing dog on a blaze orange leash, and every mobility-impaired or otherwise disabled person shall have the right to be accompanied by a dog, trained as a service dog, in a harness, backpack, or vest identifying the dog as a trained service dog, in any of the places listed in the law.
The provisions of this section shall apply to persons accompanied by a dog that is in training, at least six months of age, and is:
- in harness, provided such person is an experienced trainer of guide dogs or is conducting continuing training of a guide dog
- on a blaze orange leash, provided such person is an experienced trainer of hearing dogs or is conducting continuing training of a hearing dog
- in a harness, backpack, or vest identifying the dog as a trained service dog, provided such person is an experienced trainer of service dogs or is conducting continuing training of a service dog
- wearing a jacket identifying the recognized guide, hearing or service dog organization, provided such person is an experienced trainer of the organization identified on the jacket; or
- the person is part of a three-unit service dog team and is conducting continuing training of a service dog.
Every visually impaired person who has a guide dog, every hearing-impaired person who has a hearing dog, and every mobility-impaired or otherwise disabled person with a service dog shall be entitled to full and equal access with such dog to all housing accommodations provided for in this section. He shall not be required to pay extra compensation for such dog but shall be liable for any damage done to the premises by such dog.
Any circuit court having jurisdiction and venue on the petition of any person with a disability, shall have the right to enjoin the abridgement of rights set forth in this chapter and to order such affirmative equitable relief as is appropriate and to award compensatory damages and to award to a prevailing party reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Harassment of/Interference with Service Dogs
Class 3 misdemeanor to, without just cause,willfully impede or interfere with the duties performed by a dog if the person knows or has reason to believe the dog is a guide or leader dog.
Class 1 misdemeanor to, without just cause,willfully injure a dog if the person knows or has reason to believe the dog is a guide or leader dog.
Drivers approaching a totally or partially blind pedestrian using a dog guide shall take all necessary precautions to avoid injury.
Driver who fail to take such precautions shall be liable in damages for any injury caused such pedestrian and dog guide.
Drivers approaching totally or partially blind pedestrian crossing or attempting to cross a highway guided by a dog guide must make full stop before arriving at such intersection/crossing place.
Violation is a Class 3 misdemeanor.
No license tax shall be levied on any dog that is trained and serves as a guide dog for a blind person, that is trained and serves as a hearing dog for a deaf or hearing-impaired person, or that is trained and serves as a service dog for a mobility-impaired or otherwise disabled person.
As used in this section, “hearing dog,” “mobility-impaired person,” “otherwise disabled person,” and “service dog” have the same meanings as assigned in § 51.5-40.1.