Person using a wheelchair with their service dog.


What is a service animal?

Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 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. 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 and as such do not meet the definition of a service animal per the ADA. 

A miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability meets the definition of a service animal per the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered to be service animals per the ADA.


In compliance with Title II of the ADA, it is the policy of California State Parks that service animals be allowed into all areas that are open to the public.

People with disabilities who bring service animals into California state parks and facilities will not be required to show proof of disability, nor are working service animals required to have special service animal licensing or wear special collars, harnesses, or jackets. Service animals are subject to the local dog licensing and registration requirements required of all dogs. In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability; and
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform

Service animals shall be under the control of the owner, and restrained or on a leash at all times with few exceptions.

Persons with service animals will not be asked to remove a service animal from the premises unless it is observed that:

  • The animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it; or
  • The animal is not housebroken

A person claiming to be training a service animal shall possess documentation that they are licensed/authorized to train service animals. The service animal-in-training must be leashed at all times and must be wearing some form of identification denoting that it is a service animal-in-training.

If you plan to visit a park unit with a miniature horse that has been trained as a service animal, please contact the park unit in advance so that staff may assess:

  • Whether the miniature horse is housebroken;
  • Whether the minature horse is under the owner's control;
  • Whether the park facility can accommodate the minature horse's type, size, and weight; and
  • Whether the minature horse's presence will compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the park facility

California Penal Code Section 365.7 makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by both that fine and imprisonment, for any person who knowingly and fraudulently represents himself or herself, through verbal or written notice, to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a service dog.