Know Your Service Animal Rights
- Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person's disability.
- People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons. However, if a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
- Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.
- Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.
- A business is not required to provide care or food for a service animal or provide a special location for it to relieve itself.
- Allergies and fear of animals are generally not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals.
- Most people are familiar with guide dogs that help people who are blind to get around safely. But there are many other types of service animals that assist people with a wide range of disabilities. Animals can be trained to pull a wheelchair or retrieve objects for people who use wheelchairs, alert people who are deaf to sounds in the environment, alert people with epilepsy to an impending seizure, help people with autism to stay focused, and perform many other tasks. Most people with disabilities who use service animals find the animals essential for coping with situations in everyday life.
- If a service animal is out of control and presents a direct threat to others, you may ask the customer to remove it from the premises.