Can I Be Asked for Papers on My Service Dog?

Can I Be Asked for Papers for Service Dog?

Written by K9 Partners for Patriots

June 16, 2023

Is it Legal To Ask For Service Dog Papers?

IT IS NOT LEGAL for anyone to ask for papers or certification regarding your service dog.

If you have a service animal, you are not required to provide documentation, certification, or any papers regarding your disability or your service dog. This is clearly stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Only limited inquiries are allowed when it is not obvious what service an animal provides. 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.

What About Businesses Displaying Signs, ‘No Pets Allowed’?

Businesses are within their rights to prohibit pets. But a service animal is not a pet, and businesses are required by law to allow service dogs into their establishment. Furthermore, the handler cannot be charged additional fees for entry, and they cannot be segregated or offered inferior accommodations. People with disabilities cannot be treated differently or less favorably than other customers.

There are only two justifiable reasons why a service animal can be asked to leave the business premises:

  1. The dog is out of control, and the handler does not take effective action to control it.
  2. The dog is not housebroken.

In these instances, staff must offer the service dog handler the opportunity to purchase a product or service without the animal’s presence.

Does A Service Dog Have to Wear A Vest?

A service dog vest is not required, but we recommend the use of one. It reminds the dog that it is working and informs the public that it’s a service dog and should not be interfered with.

A service dog vest also brings awareness. Parents are more likely to educate their children on what the service vest on a dog represents and explain that this type of dog is different than a typical pet.

For your own safety, we would caution anyone not to approach any dog without discussing it with the handler first, whether it’s wearing a vest or not.

What About Websites Selling Service Dog Certification Papers?

These sites cause confusion and facilitate service dog fraud. Service dog fraud directly affects real people with real disabilities and service dogs. You may be familiar with websites across the Internet run by companies that sell service dog certification papers, badges, tags, and vests. In addition, many of these companies even offer doctor’s letters which is a blatant indication of fraud. No respectable doctor would vouge for a disability sight unseen.

Remember this – service dogs are not required to wear a vest or required to have any identification at all. Many of these websites are exploiting people with disabilities and their service dogs for profit.

Penalties for Service Dog Fraud

As of 2022, there are 33 states with bans on the fraudulent representation of pets as service animals. Penalties differ from state to state.

By falsely claiming that your pet is a service animal in order to, for example, bring it into a restaurant with you or take it on the bus, you are not only inconveniencing others, but you are poisoning attitudes towards true service animals and leading bystanders and proprietors to believe others may be “faking it.” In addition, if you enter a facility where an actual service animal is working, your untrained animal may jeopardize the safety of the service animal and its handler. And in 33 states, you’re breaking the law. Leave your pet at home, and allow true service animals to do their jobs.

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