Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Service Dogs Welcome

This post is a work in progress. It is designed to assist those who may be responsible for welcoming guests who are accompanied by Service Animals. Since the ADA updated its Service Animal policy in 2011, only dogs are considered Service Animals, so many may refer to their Service Animal as a Service Dog.

Here is a little quiz for you:

In the photo below, which dog is a Service Animal?

Again, in the photo below, which dog is a Service Animal?

Stay with me now, in the photo below, which dog is the Service Dog?

OK, here are the answers. In photo #1, both dogs are service dogs, and both of their handlers are not obviously disabled. They have what we refer to as Hidden Disabilities. In photo #2, both dogs are Service Dogs, and again, both handlers have hidden disabilities. In Photo #3, the smaller dog, on the right, is the Service Dog, having fun at the dog park. That dog is the same dog that appears in photos #1 and #2.

So, how can you tell, when someone comes to your place, if it is a service dog, especially if the handler has a hidden disability? lets ask the Department Of Justice what they have to say about this issue....

Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals

  • When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may 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, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
  • Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
  • A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
  • Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
  • People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.
  • If a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by himself or his service animal.
  • Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.

Please understand that when you modify your "No Pets Allowed" policy to accommodate a Person With A Disability, PWD, to equal enjoyment, ie equal access, you are not allowing the service dog to enter, you are allowing the Person With The Disability access. Just as PWDs using wheelchairs, canes or walkers are permitted to enter, PWDs accompanied by Service Dogs are allowed to enter. When you refuse, you are discriminating against the person, not the dog. It is a violation of the law.

Why I don't put a 'sign' on my dog

Many folks are under the misunderstanding that putting a sign, cape, harness on one's Service Dog would eliminate discrimination. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Since I do not have an observable disability, walking with my Service Dog with a sign on it has resulted in more discriminationharassment and even bullying. Strangers will accost me with 'your not disabled ' or 'your not blind,' or worse, they believe that since they cannot see my disability I must be 'mental' and deserve to be humiliated in public. Sadly, the abuse of people With Disabilities, even in places of public accommodations ie epidemic in the US, and fer folks are moved to sympathize with the disabled, much less lend a helping hand. 

Back in the Middle Ages we had Disability Laws to exclude and control Jews.

Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jews in the Middle Ages. 

Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jews in the Middle Ages. They included provisions requiring Jews to wear specific and identifying clothing such as the Jewish hat and the yellow badge, restricting Jews to certain cities and towns or in certain parts of towns (ghettos), and forbidding Jews to enter certain trades (for example selling new clothes in medieval Sweden). Disabilities also included special taxes levied on Jews, exclusion from public life, restraints on the performance of religious ceremonies, and linguistic censorship. Some countries went even further and completely expelled Jews, for example England in 1290 (Jews were readmitted in 1655) and Spain in 1492 (readmitted in 1868).
The disabilities were lifted in the late 18th and the 19th century. In 1791, Revolutionary France was the first country to abolish them altogether, followed by Prussia in 1848, the United Kingdom in 1858 after an almost 30-year struggle championed by Isaac Lyon Goldsmid[1] (Jewish Disabilities Bill), and the newly united Germany in 1871.
The first Jewish settlers in North America arrived in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1654; they were forbidden to hold public office, open a retail shop, or establish a synagogue. When the colony was seized by the British in 1664 Jewish rights remained unchanged, but by 1671Asser Levy was the first Jew to serve on a jury in North America.[2]

"please note that today the companion animal did not wear an identifying vest while on the visit to our offices, making it difficult to identify the nature of the animal."

Folks, how do you know it is a service dog? The DOJ states clearly and unequivocally, you ask the handler, the PWD.

BTW: This does not mean that the PWD doesn't need 'documentation,' it means the PWD is not required to carry it with them, or show it to you. How would you like to show your medical records when you enter a place of public accommodation.


This post is dedicated to Marilyn. I apologies to you that you were harassed last evening due accompanying me, who was accompanied by my Service Dog. If the security guard had questions about my Service Dog he should have addressed them to me and not to you. Many people are afraid of people with disabilities and do not speak directly to them, but to their associates. This is one of the reasons the ADA was passed.

One main difference between the ADA, the Civil Rights Act of 1990.and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is the latter requires you show intent to discriminate while the ADA does not require intent.

While the ADA is a civil rights law, threatening to arrest a PWD to deny their exercising their civil rights is a criminal offence in the state of MA.



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