Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Dogs

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muirford's picture
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An interesting and easy-to-understand article about the different types of service and support animals and which government regs belong to which groups.

Service vs. Therapy Dogs

Some things to note for our industry: in 2010, it was decided that emotional support animals are not service dogs (and only dogs and miniature horses are service animals) and so are not covered under the ADA.  However, they are covered under the Fair Housing Act insofar as they are able to live and travel with their handlers.  I imagine this is why they are allowed on airplanes, but I don't know how that applies to lodging. 

Also important to note is that saying a pet is a service animal when it is not is considered fraud and can be prosecuted as such.  Not that any of us wants to be litigious but I imagine that reminder would put an end to some sketchy inquiries about taking a pet.

There is still no national licensing regulations.  This was shared with me by a friend who is in the dog rescue world, after a discussion with a trainer who clearly didn't know the rules. So note that even professionals in the dog industry may not give out the right information.

You can still can only ask about tasks the dog has been trained for, but those tasks are laid out pretty well.  Medical alert dogs (for people with epilepsy, diabetes, allergies, etc.) are considered service animals with specific tasks. 

 

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pdscenter's picture
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Thanks for the great post but i have a question How Do you know if Your ESA Letter is Legit or not?

PhineasSwann's picture
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pdscenter wrote:

Thanks for the great post but i have a question How Do you know if Your ESA Letter is Legit or not?

You don't. But the good news is that ESAs are NOT covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act, so you are under no legal obligation to accommodate them. 

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Tom
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Right, ESA not relevant to accommodations and B&B 5 rooms or under are exempt even from actual ADA service dog requirements.  There's other threads on this.

Silverspoon's picture
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Best to check current information.  This post is from 2013.

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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And you can not charge a pet fee when it's a service dog!

Generic's picture
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There's never a need anyway, these are the most trained dogs. In fact, if it makes a mess, it's usually an indication that it is NOT a service dog.

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Generic's picture
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Thank heavens I don't have to worry about ADA and all that. Service dogs have a special collar around here, no other dog gets special treatment. Laws are per province and being considered residential, I'm exempt. Though, I imagine that if someone had a service dog I would welcome them, the rest... sorry!

Arks's picture
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Sugar Bear wrote:

Service dogs have a special collar around here, no other dog gets special treatment.

Special collar. Such a good idea! Do we have any way in the USA to know if they are legit? Or do we just have to take the guest's word for it?

I'm NO PETS. I'd hate for someone to bring a dog in my place under false pretenses. Well, I'd hate to see the dog, period. But would obey the law, which is not always to be taken for granted here in Arkansas.

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muirford's picture
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Arkansawyer wrote:

Special collar. Such a good idea! Do we have any way in the USA to know if they are legit? Or do we just have to take the guest's word for it?

There is no special documentation or gear that legitimizes service animals officially.  You can ask the guest what tasks the dog has been trained to perform (you cannot ask what the disability is) and you can refuse the dog if it behaves badly even if it is a service dog.  Here is some information from the ADA.gov website.  The writer of the article says that a lot of special gear or  paper-producing is often a sure sign of a fraud, although I would say most legitimate service dogs wear marked harnesses.  

If you are suspicious, you could offer a reminder that passing a dog of as a service animal when it is not is fraud, and subject to fines/imprisonment.

Como Depot's picture
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I have a dog which I refer to as the Depot Service Dog as a joke, there are no regulations and I have been told you can buy those jackets on e bay.

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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Thanks Muirford! Hopefully some day certification will happen.

Kay Nein's picture
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Great information!  Thank you, Muirford, as we have had these same discussions locally about letting dogs into special events we organize.  There is so much mis-information.  This is a very concise explanation of the different categories.

"Because a service dog is NOT A PET but in fact is considered medical equipment, service dogs are allowed public access; they can go anywhere that their handler goes"

"An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet which provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection. Emotional support animals are not “task-trained” to mitigate a disability and are therefor not considered service dogs nor are they protected under the ADA"

"A therapy dog is someone’s well-behaved pet. Therapy Dogs are invited into facilities or events to provide companionship and joy to people other than their handler.  Often times they go into nursing homes, hospitals, pediatric facilities and schools to provide therapy and education to the patients and students. Therapy dogs are welcome wherever they are invited."

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I have to admit that is someone came here with a miniature pony I might have to allow it! cool

There was a therapy dog on the plane I was on recently. I am guessing it was, it wore no special bandana or anything but was sitting on its owner's lap. A cocker spaniel.

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Thanks Jeanne.  I had read somewhere else that support animals were not covered under ADA, having a 2nd confirmation is comforting. 

And then there is the signs that have been put up at now 2 Post Offices in the area which say:

NO PETS ALLOWED ACCEPT DOGS ASSISTING BLIND PERSONS

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