What is a Service Dog?

Pride welcomes trained service dogs and documented emotional support dogs as a cherished part of our LGBT family. At the Festival, please stop by one of the Senior Cool Zones or the Accessibility Booth where your four-legged helper can have a cool drink of water and enjoy a shady place to rest.

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Service Dogs

To make sure everyone understands their rights and responsibilities, we offer the following guidelines:

  • A service dog handler can be asked if they have a disability
  • The handler can be asked what specific tasks the dog has been trained to perform
  • An otherwise qualified service dog or documented emotional support dog can be asked to leave if they pose a direct threat to another person or animal

Service dogs perform tasks for their handlers related to the individual’s specific disability. The person does not need to have a physical disability to have a qualified service dog. For example, an individual with a mental health disability may have a service dog that is trained to perform a physical task as well as providing emotional support. (Examples of such tasks may include bringing medication needed for a symptom flare-up like a panic attack, barking to gain attention and assistance if the handler is having a flashback, providing external stimulus to bring an individual out of a dissociative state, or stabilizing a person who is experiencing dizziness as a medication side effect.) Such a dog is by law considered a service dog and granted all the rights of any other service dog.

Emotional Support Dogs

Dogs that are exclusively emotional support dogs, however, are not trained to perform a specific task related to a disability. Instead, they benefit a person with a disability simply by the unique nature of the bond between canine and human. Such dogs are not legally granted the same rights as service dogs. Recognizing that some individuals with certain disabilities may need their canine companion to fully participate in events at Pride, Pride will admit an emotional support dog that has documentation of the role they play in their handler’s life. We even created a form! Click here to download.

Please realize that while San Diego Pride is going beyond what the law requires, other entities may not. Emotional support dogs do not have the same right to access as service dogs. For further information, please check out the Department of Justice’s guidelines

To help make the Music Festival enjoyable for all, please keep the following in mind:

  • Never leave your dog alone for any reason at any time, including when you use the restroom.
  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times, unless it directly impacts your service dog’s ability to do their job.
  • Pride Team Members are not permitted to take control of service dogs.
  • Other dogs at the festival are trying to do their job under stressful conditions. Please help by keeping your dog at least five feet from other dogs.
  • If you need to approach another dog and their person, please give verbal warning. Blind and visually impaired individuals especially need this.
  • For everyone’s comfort, please clean up your dog’s waste.
  • You are responsible for keeping your dog under control. If your dog becomes a direct threat, you will be asked to remove the dog from the festival grounds.
  • Sun and heat are especially hard for our furry companions. Please take advantage of the Senior Cool Zones and the Information Booth where there is shade and water for your furry helpers.

We appreciate your cooperation and adherence to this policy. We wish everyone a safe and fabulous Pride!

Outside the Music Festival

Service animals are welcome to use any open outdoor area for relief as long as the owner picks up after the animal and leaves the area clean.

  • Balboa Park’s Dog Park

The Nate’s Point Dog Off-Leash Area is located on the West Mesa of Balboa Park, immediately south of El Prado / Laurel Street and east of Balboa Drive [map].  The off-leash area is approximately 2.3 acres in size.


Quick links:

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals Booklet:  Definitions of service animal and support animal, handler’s responsibility and rights

Service Animals Fact Sheet 

For more information about San Diego Pride and events, please visit the San Diego Pride page.

Please explore the links below, and if you have further questions, email us at [email protected].