Service Animal Policy

ECI Service Animal Policy

Federal and state laws set out the rights of people with disabilities who use animals to assist them. Under these laws, people with disabilities have the right to bring service animals–specially trained to provide some of the work and tasks which the individual cannot perform on his or her own–into businesses or public spaces. They do not have a right to bring emotional support or therapy animals into these places. We recognize that pet owners derive a sense of well-being, safety, or calm from their pet’s companionship and physical presence. However, unless they meet the definition of a service animal under federal and state law, we cannot allow such animals into our clinic.

We appreciate your understanding and compliance with the following guidelines. If you do not have someone to care for your pet, we will gladly assist you in rescheduling your appointment to accommodate your needs.

FAQs regarding Service Animals:

What is a service animal?

Under California law, a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to perform a task for a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other type of mental disability. A service animal is NOT a pet. Examples of service dog work may include:

  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Assisting with navigation for a person who is blind or has low vision
  • Retrieving items such as pens or backpacks
  • Removing a disoriented person from a dangerous situation
  • Assisting an individual during a seizure.

Eye Care Institute, in accordance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and California statutes, does not require proof of the service dog’s training, but may ask

  1. Whether the dog is required because of a disability, and
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform.

Can I bring my emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animal with me to my eye care appointment?

No. Emotional support, comfort, companion, or therapy animals are not service animals as defined by the ADA and California law. These animals are not allowed in our facility. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.

What are my responsibilities as a service dog handler while at ECI?

In accordance with the ADA, our facility requires service dogs to be under the control of the handler at all times. You are responsible for supervising your service animal. For example, the dog must be housebroken and should be vaccinated in accordance with state and local laws. If your service dog behaves in an unacceptable way and you do not control the animal, or if the dog poses a direct threat to others, you may be asked to remove your dog from the premises. Examples of unacceptable behavior include uncontrolled barking, jumping on other people, or running away from the handler. An example of a direct threat includes biting without provocation. Additionally, please be aware that we may need to ask you to position your service animal in a particular location within the clinic room in order to be able to conduct your exam.

Does my service animal have to be “registered”? Or wear a vest and or other indicator?

No. The ADA does not require that service animals “register” or wear a tag or vest and/or any other identifying equipment. However, service animals must generally have a harness or leash and demonstrate “working dog behaviors,” such as following verbal and/or hand commands and staying at attention.

What are the consequences of not following the above guidelines?

Under California law penal code § 365.7, misrepresentation of a dog as a service animal, either written or verbal, is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.


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