December 4, 2007
Re: FTA Complaint Number 05-0129
Dear [name withheld]:
This letter responds to your complaint on behalf of [name withheld] against Ketchikan Gateway Borough (KGB) alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and/or the Department of Transportation's (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring, which includes ensuring that providers of public transportation properly implement the ADA, the DOT ADA regulations, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Specifically, your complaint of April 15, 2005, alleged that KGB did not consider [name withheld]’s dog to be a service animal.
We apologize for the delay in responding formally to this complaint. Our records indicate that in early 2006 Herman Payton, our Regional Civil Rights Officer at that time in Seattle, WA, contacted [name withheld] and learned that she was no longer having trouble riding the Borough Bus with her animal.
As indicated in correspondence to the US Department of Justice by yourself and [name withheld] of the Disability Law Center of Alaska, DOT’s ADA regulations at 49 CFR § 37.167(d) requires that all public transportation providers permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities.
Early correspondence that you provided suggested that some individuals in the Borough did not fully understand the requirement to allow service animals to accompany riders. Correspondence from Steve Corporon, Assistant Borough Manager, in March of 2006 reflects that KGB appreciates the requirement to allow service animals and has informed its bus drivers.
It is important to note, however, that a service animal is generally considered to be an animal that is individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. FTA has deferred to US Department of Justice guidance on this matter (see Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business at http://ada.gov/qasrvc.htm). To date, we are not aware of a clear determination that this requirement is inclusive of a “therapeutic service dog,” and as service is being provided we decline to make such a determination now.
As this complaint now appears moot, we are closing the file. If new or additional information comes to your attention, please contact us. FTA’s decision not to proceed at this time does not prevent you from pursuing it at the local level or privately in the appropriate court. If you have any questions regarding our determination, please contact myself for Donna R. Walton, Ed.D., at (202) 366-4018 or at her e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
David W. Knight
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights
[name withheld], Staff Attorney, Disability Law Center of Alaska
Steve Corporon, Assistant Borough Manager, Ketchikan Gateway Borough
Richard F. Krochalis, FTA Region X Administrator
Monica McCallum, FTA Region X Civil Rights Officer