Taking your service dog to a business - what can (and can't) they ask?

Your service dog is your partner and an invaluable and necessary element in your everyday outings and activities. At times you may be unsure of the rights of your service animal or may be confronted by the owner of a business location who all but demands your life story before he or she decides whether or not to allow your dog to remain inside. Thankfully the ADA spells out your rights as well as acceptable questions and concerns from business owners. The knowing of this information will make going places with your animal companion totally comfortable.

What are some questions that a business can ask the owner of a companion dog about his or her dog?

 

  • Inquire if your service animal is indeed a service animal and not a pet.
  • Inquire what tasks the dog has been trained to perform or do for you.
  • Ask you to remove the service animal from the property if and only if it is a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Presence alone in a restaurant or other eating location is never considered a direct threat.
  • Ask you to remove a service animal that is disruptive to the point of interfering with the nature of the business, such as barking continuously in a movie theater.

What are some questions that a business cannot ask the owner of a service dog about service dogs?

 

  • Ask you for service animal identification cards or proof of any kind that your service dog is an approved service animal.
  • Segregate you from other customers.
  • Demand pet fees or a deposit for the presence of a service animal.
  • Ask you to leave your animal outside.

Your dog companion is not defined as being a pet. It is a special animal for disabled people to use, to live out everyday life, as normal as possible. There are existing laws to protect both disabled people and their service dogs. These laws provide a security like no other.


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