QUESTIONS ABOUT SERVICE ANIMALS

What are the laws that apply to businesses?
Under the ADA, privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls and sports facilities are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires that businesses allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

What is a service animal 
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. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. The ADA takes priority over any county health department or state or local laws regarding service animals.

How can one determine if an animal is really a service
animal and not just a pet 
Some, not all , service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

What must be done when an individual with a service
animal comes to a business?
The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

Are businesses required to change a posted "no pets" policy?
Yes, a service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your "no pets" policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability.

Can a maintenance or cleaning fee be charged for customers
who bring service animals to a business 
No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with as disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities for the cost of repairing or cleaning furniture damage by a service animal if it is the public entity's policy to charge when non-disabled guests cause such damage.

Can a private taxicab refuse to provide services to individuals 
Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their service animals than they charge to other persons for the same or equivalent service.

Who is responsible for the service animal while the person
with a disability is in a business?
The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. A business is not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.

What if a service animal barks or growls at other people,
or otherwise acts out of control 
Any animal may be excluded, including a service animal, from a facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.

Can an animal be excluded that doesn't really seem dangerous
but is disruptive to a business 
There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate service animal - that is when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration of the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concert halls and sporting facilities. But when it does, (for example, when a dog barks during a movie), the animal can be excluded.

This information was taken from a publication published by the U.S. Department of Justice, 1996.


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