Do You Have To Allow A Service Animal On Your Business Property?
You may have a business that just isn’t fit or appropriate for animals to be inside of, or on your property. Yet, you also are aware of laws that require that you allow service animals on your property, and you certainly don’t want to violate those laws, or seem inconsiderate of those who may really need the use of those animals.
But how can you tell when someone legitimately does need a service animal? Today, many people claim animals are service animals when they aren’t, and there are even online shops that will sell fake service animal harnesses and certificates, to make otherwise ordinary animals appear that they are a valid service animal.
Are they Legal?
Yes, service animals are legal, and must be allowed into your business. Service animals do include animals that provide emotional support, as well as other kinds of support—for example, some animals can detect seizures, or act as balancing aids to the disabled. All of those are valid service animals that must be allowed in or on property.
But general “support animals,” that do not actually serve any specific purpose or which do not aid in the management of any particular disability, can be excluded from property. The fact an animal may be “calming” or may make someone “feel better” or may “cheer them up,” may be honorable, and that may be the truth, but that doesn’t mean that the animal must be allowed onto your property under the ADA.
Generally, any animal that has undergone training as a service animal, is protected under the ADA, and must be allowed on property under the Americans With Disability Act. Of course, the problem is that you can’t tell by looking if an animal has undergone any training, and it doesn’t matter what it says on the animal’s harness (many fake harnesses may look very official, but you don’t have to just rely on what is written on the animal’s harness).
The law also prohibits you from asking someone what their disability is, that requires the assistance of the animal. What you can ask is whether the animal is a service animal, and what services it performs for the person.
No Discrimination Allowed
If an animal is a service animal, you cannot discriminate against the customer in any way. So, for example, you couldn’t sit the person in a different location than where other patrons are sitting, or charge the person more than you would charge someone who doesn’t have a service animal.
Although rare, animals that are dangerous, or which could be dangerous to others, such as aggressive dogs, can always be excluded, even if needed by the ADA.
Call our Fort Lauderdale business lawyers at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954 440-3993 to help your business stay out of legal trouble and remain compliant with the law.