Promote ADA Rights

Do-not-pet-service-dogsFederal law, or the ADA,  guarantees that a person with disabilities may be accompanied by his or her service animal where the public is usually welcome. According to

Under the Americans with Disabilities (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 these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

Q. What is a service animal?

A. 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.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. “Seeing eye dogs” are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal most people are familiar with. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

√  Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.

√ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

√ Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

A service animal is NOT a pet.

 Q. How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A. Some, but 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. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. 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.