More and more guests are attempting to bring animals into restaurants and hotels. Check out this helpful information regarding the rules behind service animals and what to do in those situations.
A service animal is a dog, or in some cases, a miniature horse. No other animal is protected by the ADA. The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.
You cannot ask to see documentation for the dog. You can only ask two specific questions. When it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Emotional support, comfort animals and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title III of the ADA. They are not considered to be service animals and do not have the rights of service animals. They do not perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support.
If the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action or is unable to control it, or the animal is not housebroken, you may ask a service animal to be removed. If an animal is asked to leave for this reason, you must offer the individual with the disability the opportunity to obtain services without having the service animal on premise. A service animal shall have a harness, leash or other tether unless (1) the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash or other tether, or (2) the use of a harness, leash or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks.
Service animals are required to remain on the floor and not to be seated in chairs or booths or on tables. The ADA gives a person with a disability the right to be accompanied by his or her service animal, but covered entities are not required to allow an animal to sit or be fed at the table.
Surcharges (Hotel) A public accommodation shall not ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If a public accommodation normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
Miniature horses have been added to the ADA policy on service animals, however there are a few modifications to the policy. The same requirement applies that the service animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. However, we are permitted to evaluate certain factors when determining to permit access to a miniature horse service animal:
- The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features
- Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse
- Whether the miniature horse is housebroken
- Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation.
If the size of a miniature horse would restrict the ingress and egress of any aisle or emergency exit, it is considered a legitimate compromise to the safety of operation.