"Privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, grocery stores, taxicabs, shuttles, buses, theaters, concert halls, hospitals, medical offices, health clubs, parks, zoos, sports facilities... are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed". People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons. Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises. ADA 2011

Service dogs are working animals, not pets.  A Service Dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the persons' disability. ADA 2011

Major Life Activities are not always visible, they may include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. Shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less. ADA 2011

Frequently asked questions

How can I tell if a dog is a Service Dog, emotional support, or a family pet?
Putting a vest on a dog or buying a card does not make them a service dog. A service dog should be well socialized, obedient, working calmly and quietly with their handler. If they do lose focus, the handler can quickly get them back on the job. A dog that is not paying attention, fearful, threatening, not house broken, or otherwise out of control is most likely not a legitimate service dog. Even if they are, you may ask them to leave under these circumstances.

Can I require documentation before allowing a service dog into my business?
There are a few exceptions to this rule, housing, work, commercial airlines...
"When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.
Staff cannot ask about the personís disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

   
You can simplify these questions. What you really want to know is:
     Is your dog a service dog?
yes or no
     Has your dog been trained to help you with a specific disability? yes or no

Use caution, many disabled may not be able to answer those questions effectively. Some may not really know or understand what their dog does for them, or have the capacity to explain it to you. It is very important to look at the whole picture. If the dog is not "trained to perform tasks to mitigate the handler's disability", then it is not a service dog protected under the ADA.

Do service dogs have to be certified?
No, they do not. They must however be "trained to perform tasks to mitigate the handler's disability". They also must behave appropriately in public. ADA 2011

Can a business ever refuse service to someone with a service dog?
If their dog is out of control and they do not take effective action to control it or the dog is not housebroken. You may ask them to leave. Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals.

When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal present. ADA 2011

All dog owners are held accountable for their dogs behavior, and can be charged for damages to people and property.

Information obtained from the ADA 2011 revision

Links to the DOJ/ADA websites
United States Department of Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act
http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm
http://www.state.ia.us/government/crc/docs/Factsheet%20Service%20Animals.pdf
You can call the U.S. Department of Justice, for more information about ADA regulations. Their number is (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 TDD

http://timberlys-all-about-service-dogs.tripod.com/sdlawsbystate.html
Still have questions. Contact us for more information.
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