The Importance of a Proper ADA Service Animal Policy

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires businesses that provide goods and services, such as restaurants and hotels, to allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animal inside these facilities. The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability.  For example, a service dog may guide a person who is visually impaired, assist a wheelchair user or calm a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

While state and local regulations may vary, the ADA does not require a service animal to wear a vest or identifying tag.  Businesses are not allowed to request proof of documentation for the dog.  A business must limit its inquiry and may only 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 person’s disability or require the dog to perform a task.

This places business owners and their staff in a difficult position when it is not clear what services the dog provides.  It is important that business owners have a clear service animal policy and properly train their staff for these situations.  Otherwise, a business may be subject to significant fines and costly lawsuits.

For more information on ADA service animal compliance, contact the experienced attorneys at Chauvel & Glatt. 

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-881-3021. (photo credit: depositphotos.com).

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