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Arks

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Got my first request to bring a service dog. I wrote back asking to see the service dog's documentation. What should I look for to help verify that it's legitimate?
 

GoodScout

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There is no certification. There's no national clearinghouse that certifies service dogs. In fact, the more paperwork or badges they provide, the less likely they are to be a real service dog.
The two questions you can (legally) ask:
  • "Is the dog trained to perform a task that you can't perform?"
  • "What task is the dog specifically trained to perform?"
I sometimes like to casually ask if the dog is an "emotional support dog." Sometimes I catch people trying to pawn off their pet as a service dog with this one. If they say "yes," then you can politely let them know that emotional support animals are not covered under the ADA, and you're under no obligation to accept them.
Feel free to ask more questions or DM. I give talks on this subject all the time at meetings, etc.
 

Arks

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Thanks! So far they haven't responded regarding the service dog, though a reservation from them did come through about 2 hours after they asked if it was OK to bring the dog. We'll see.
 

Hillbilly

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I was always told it was illegal to ask for paperwork on a service dog. Its like asking a person in a wheel chair to prove they need it.
I could be wrong on that. I do know you can't charge a pet deposit. But the dog is to remain with the owner at all times and if it causes issues you can ask them to leave. A true service dog is not a pet. But a working dog that has been trained. You can tell the difference right away.
 

Arks

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I was always told it was illegal to ask for paperwork on a service dog. Its like asking a person in a wheel chair to prove they need it.
I could be wrong on that. I do know you can't charge a pet deposit. But the dog is to remain with the owner at all times and if it causes issues you can ask them to leave. A true service dog is not a pet. But a working dog that has been trained. You can tell the difference right away..
Hillbilly said:
I was always told it was illegal to ask for paperwork on a service dog.
Looking at the ADA website, I think you're right.
 

gillumhouse

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The true Service Dog is an extension of its human. Note: I said a true Service Dog.
 

GoodScout

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Other service dog rules from the ADA:
  • You cannot charge a dog fee or cleaning fee for a service dog.
  • You must give a guest with a service dog access to any room a regular guest can use. You can't force them to take a "pet room."
  • You can require the guest leave with the dog if it misbehaves or is destructive. (Real service dogs will never do this).
 

seashanty

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Ditto to what Phineas Swann said.
I hosted a few service dogs. Absolutely NO problem at all ... you never would have known they were there. I handle a wedding venue. Sometimes there are service dogs. Again, no problem.
Long ago, I'm sure I shared this story.
Did have one man show up wearing a small dog in a carrier ... he said it was an emotional support dog which I knew was not one I had to take. The man had paperwork with him and had a haunted look about him. Hard to describe - but I went with my own gut about it and decided to let them check in. I handed him the policy sheet which he signed about how I welcomed service animals and what would happen if there was noise and damage, etc. He, partner and dog were in a first floor room. Best room for someone with a dog.
The next day he was unable to open the door to leave his room and totally freaked out. Absolutely panicked and he wrenched off the doorknob. I called for my handyman to come help open the door and went to the front porch. It had two huge windows facing into his room just a foot off the ground. They were open. I could not coax him to come to me and exit through the window. His wife stood at the window crying. He kept trying to break down the door. That poor dog was in the front carrier the whole time and I don't know if it helped calm the man or not during the episode but he did sit rocking with it for a long time after, petting it and bringing himself down. Aside from the man's damage to the door, there was no problem with the dog, no barking, etc.
I have known many people since then with emotional support dogs and I don't know why they are not considered service animals. I can see the benefit.
Good luck with this. I am no fan of those who buy fake vests for their dogs so they can travel with them. :(
 

Tom

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Other service dog rules from the ADA:
  • You cannot charge a dog fee or cleaning fee for a service dog.
  • You must give a guest with a service dog access to any room a regular guest can use. You can't force them to take a "pet room."
  • You can require the guest leave with the dog if it misbehaves or is destructive. (Real service dogs will never do this).
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and, if you have 5 rooms or less, ADA does not apply.
We happen to have 2 dog ok rooms, so I can appropriately book emotional support dogs as companion animals, and they always pay the $25 one time pet fee. With real service dogs, I try to book into dog ok rooms so as to not have a problem assuring dog allergy guests in the future -- people with service dogs really get that anyone's health anxiety needs to be respected -- but it depends on other accessibility needs. My easiest roll-in shower is not normally dog, but with a hardwood floor, it can be completely cleaned.
As noted, there is no certification or paperwork for a service dog; just the two questions:
1. Is the dog is a service animal that is required due to a disability?
2. What type of work or task the dog has been trained to do?
Use that language.
 
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