service animal

noun

plural service animals
: a domesticated animal and usually a dog that is trained to perform a supportive function for its owner (such as guiding an owner who is blind or alerting an owner who is deaf to sounds)
A service animal is trained to assist a disabled person by performing specific tasks: They guide the blind, signal the hearing-impaired, pull wheelchairs and so on.Cecil Adams
Now, service animals help people with a variety of conditions, such as autism, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.Suzy Fleming Leonard
Michael was able to be retrained as a psychological service animal for Bessler, helping him deal with his traumatic brain injury.Alexandra Klausner

Note: Some government agencies (such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) have official definitions of service animal that are more restrictive than the term's meaning in general English.

Examples of service animal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pets: No pets are permitted on the grounds, although service animals are allowed. Kirk Kenney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Jan. 2024 The effect was a joyous event in which living with a disability was normalized, with friends and family members conversing excitedly with one another in sign language alongside people using wheelchairs, mobility canes and service animals. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Dec. 2023 In the initial post, Schmidt, who has post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, did not note that Zoe is a service animal. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, 28 Nov. 2023 Julie McKinley, a former nurse at Brigham and Women’s hospital and the owner of Jameson, a Shetland sheepdog who works as a service animal at BWH, said that patients are often very stressed and animal therapy helps raise endorphin levels. Maggie Scales, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Aug. 2023 And Brennan’s in New Orleans has seen a few service animals without their owner. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 9 Oct. 2023 Tabloids regularly repackage anonymous Reddit threads about the quirks of seat switching, seat reclining, seat back grabbing, service animals or the choreography of deplaning. Amanda Hess, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2023 The rideshare company requires all drivers to accept rides from passengers who travel with their service animals. Greg Wehner, Fox News, 13 Oct. 2023 There are limits to where a service animal can be, Garrett said. Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'service animal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1988, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of service animal was in 1988

Dictionary Entries Near service animal

Cite this Entry

“Service animal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/service%20animal. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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