Columbia Skyline

Assistance Animal Etiquette

Did you know...

  • A 'no pets' policy does not apply to assistance animals for individuals with a disability. 
  • An assistance animal is not required to have any particular training or certification
  • Assistance animals are most commonly dogs  but can be other animals. 
  • An assistance animal may include animals used  for emotional support. 
  • You cannot charge a pet deposit, pet fee, or pet rent for assistance animals.

Assistance Animal Defined

An assistance animal is not a pet under federal law. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), an assistance animal is an animal that (1) works, provides assistance or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or (2) provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. 

Excluding Assistance Animals

It is unlawful - under federal, state and local law - to discriminate in the sale or rental of a dwelling to an individual with a disability. Discrimination includes a refusal to reasonably accommodate for assistance animals in rules, policies, or services, when the animal may be necessary to allow the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

Tasks Assistance Animals Perform

Assistance animal duties include, but are not limited  to:

  • Assisting those with vision loss
  • Assisting with mobility
  • Assisting those with hearing loss
  • Providing protection or rescue assistance
  • Fetching items
  • Alerting persons to impending seizures
  • Providing emotional support to persons who have a disability-related need for such support

What Does The Matter to You?

There is legislation protecting  those with disabilities. Any person or housing provider who denies or interferes with assistance animal  admittance or legal guidelines may be subject to civil or criminal liability.  

Contact Information:

City of Columbia – Law Department
701 E. Broadway, 2nd Floor P.O. Box 6015
Columbia, MO 65205-6015
(573) 817-5024


Fair Housing Act (See 42 USC 3604)

State RSMo Chapters 209, 213 (See 209.190 & 213.040)

Columbia City Code Chapter 12 (See Section 12-38)

Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs. HUD, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. FHEO-2013- 01. Issued 4/25/13.

Pet Partners. Service Animals & Housing. Retrieved from