You may have also heard about the row at Tom's Farms when they asked a person with a "Service" Pitbull to leave. Here's the link to that one. The beauty of that story is that if you google "Tom's Farms/Service Animal" you get tons of hits from those insane pitbull advocacy groups that refuse to acknowledge pits can be a danger... but this isn't about pitbulls, or any other breed. Other than that odd breed of human that thinks we want to encounter their pets while out running chores or enjoying a meal.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.
- Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability.
- People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons. However, if a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
- A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the animal’s owner does not take effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly during a movie) or (2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
- In these cases, the business should give the person with the disability the option to obtain goods and services without having the animal on the premises. 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.
- A business is not required to provide care or food for a service animal or provide a special location for it to relieve itself.
- Allergies and fear of animals are generally not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals.
- Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.
Let's go down that list and review it...
- In other words you should just keep your mouth shut when an animal comes into your store.
- Well isn't that nice of them to allow a business to seek damages when a person's animal damages things.
- This is going to be one of those "he said, she said" moments. What I call "out of control" another person may think is "cute and playful". Why is even ONE bark ok during a movie or a meal?
- Really? I have the health department telling me what to do for the sake of food safety but then I have to allow people to bring in their pets anyway. I just hope the Health Department is up on things.
- Well thank goodness for small favors.
- Great, so a proprietor that has allergies or phobias, and can't have pets of their own, has to allow another person's pets into their business. Welcome to America folks.
- Glad to know that if you want to have questionable "service animals" excluded from your business someone will be there to drain your bank account.
Turn back the clock to when I was a boy and there were "seeing eye dogs" or "guide dogs". They served a legitimate purpose to help a blind person make their way around. Since that time "service animals" now include anything that the owner says it includes, even just for comfort to help lower anxiety as they go shopping, eat at a restaurant or watch a movie.
It's a shame that those with legitimate needs for a "Service Animal" have to be stained by the misdeeds of those that try and feign the need for one, knowing full well that the business cannot ask for proof that the animal is indeed anymore than the family pet.
|I always feel more at ease when I take my "Service" dog shopping with me, and his favorite is the dog food aisle. Don't ask to see any certification about his "special training", that's against the law.|
It sure would be good to see the pendulum swing back a bit towards the middle, where common sense sits. In the meantime, if you operate a business that is open to the public, don't get tangled up in this mess by going beyond the law, and asking for proof or telling a pet owner to leave. Big brother is always there, and his bite is far worse than than having to endure a person with little regard for others.
If you've read my words, and want to conclude that I'm a hater of people with disabilities or a hater of [real] Service Animals, get your head out of your agenda driven backside and take a breath here. Service Animals serve an invaluable need to many, and that isn't in dispute. I'm speaking about that those that abuse this provision, and sadly there are plenty that do.