What Businesses Need to Know about Service Animals

Are you a business owner or manager that feels unsure about how to handle service dogs? If so this article and video should help answer your questions! The law that protects service animals in public spaces is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It’s important to know that as a business you can ask two questions of individuals who come in with a service dog:

  1. Is this a service animal required for a disability?
  2. What work or task is the animal trained to perform?

Businesses are not allowed to request any form of documentation. They cannot require that the dog perform a task in order to gain entry into the establishment. They also cannot ask about the nature of the person’s disability.

Businesses can ask for the dog to be removed if it urinates or defecates, if it’s not under the control of it’s handler, if the dog is growling or barking, if the dog is behaving aggressively or if it has a history of behaving aggressively.

Businesses can deny entry if a service dog would alter the nature of the business. What does it mean to alter the nature of a business? The ADA has a section that goes over frequently asked questions about service animals and it gives this example, “At a zoo, service animals can be restricted from areas where the animals on display are the natural prey or natural predators of dogs, where the presence of a dog would be disruptive, causing the displayed animals to behave aggressively or become agitated.  They cannot be restricted from other areas of the zoo.”

Employees of a business are not covered by the ADA. If an employee wants to bring a service dog to work then they must first apply for a reasonable accommodation. If you have questions about that process, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is an excellent resource!

The ADA only protects service dogs. It does not give public access rights to therapy dogs, emotional support animals or service dogs in training. However, some states have laws that grant public access rights to service dogs in training. For more information about the laws in Kansas click here.

Watch this video for a great overview on the rights of both businesses and service animal users!

Resources & References

Featured image by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

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