Do Hotels Have to Allow Service Dogs?
YES! Hotels are required by law to allow service dogs to accompany their handler anywhere the handler is allowed to go inside the establishment per the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Hotels and Service Dogs
What you should know
The Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.
- Q11. Can hotels assign designated rooms for guests with service animals, out of consideration for other guests?
A. No. A guest with a disability who uses a service animal must be provided the same opportunity to reserve any available room at the hotel as other guests without disabilities. They may not be restricted to “pet-friendly” rooms.
- Q12. Can hotels charge a cleaning fee for guests who have service animals?
No. Hotels are not permitted to charge guests for cleaning the hair or dander shed by a service animal. However, if a guest’s service animal causes damages to a guest room, a hotel is permitted to charge the same fee for damages as charged to other guests.
State and Local Governments, Businesses, and Nonprofit Organizations
Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go. For example, in a hospital, it usually would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.
The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities with a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities.
Service Animal Certification
Contrary to popular belief, there is NO SUCH THING as a ‘Service Dog Certification’ or a “National Service Dog Registry.”
Some individuals and organizations sell service animal certification or registration documents online. However, these documents do not convey any rights under the ADA, and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.
The above statement is a bold declaration in the ADA – FAQ under the Registration and Certification Section.
Businesses are Obligated to Know the Law Regarding Disabilities!
Punishing legitimate service dog teams is not the answer to service dog fraud. If businesses accepted the responsibility of familiarizing themselves and their staff with the ADA, they can then develop a policy that falls well within the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They would be far more capable of recognizing service dog fraud and even be instrumental in eliminating it.
Businesses that do not know and fully understand the ADA will inevitably violate the rights of legitimate service dog handlers. But rest assured, legitimate service dog handlers DO know and understand the law.
The information is available and easy to find on the ADA Website. Ignorance is no excuse.
A Hotel in Serious Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The following story describes a hotel in serious violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This story is an account of actual events. As you read it, try to imagine yourself experiencing this type of treatment in an establishment where you expect to receive the same level of service and respect as the other guests. However, because you’re accompanied by a service dog to assist with a disability you’re being treated as a second-class citizen.
Upon checking in at the hotel with my service dog, the desk clerk informed me that they would put us in the pet-friendly room per management policy and that my service dog was not allowed in the lobby per their no pet policy.
After checking into the pet-friendly room, I looked for another hotel but could not find one priced within my budget. We had no choice but to stay.
I decided to go into town. As I walked through the lobby with my service dog, I was again told by staff, “no pets.” I replied, “she is not a pet; she is my service dog.”
My service dog and I took a Lyft into town. The hotel staff never told us that they offered complimentary transportation to and from town. When we were ready to return to the hotel, we had to walk back because no Lyfts were available.
When we arrived at the hotel, I walked into the lobby to ask where the vending machine was. After the 2-mile walk, I was thirsty and tired. Again, the desk clerk said, “no pets in the lobby.” Again I responded, “she is not a pet; she is my service dog, my medical equipment.” The desk clerk then told me, “management policy, no pets, no acceptions, please wait outside.” I asked again where the vending machine was, and they said they don’t have one. Everyone in the lobby was looking at me. I learned later that the hotel offers complimentary transportation to and from town and their website states vending machines are available.
When we left in the morning, I left them an ADA (Americans with Disabilities) card in hopes they would read it.
What was supposed to be a relaxing getaway turned into the most embarrassing experience I have ever endured at a hotel.
Other Resources Regarding Service Dog Law
Publix’s Policy Welcoming Only Service Dogs is a commitment to accommodating individuals with disabilities reflects a dedication to inclusivity and accessibility.
If you have a service animal, you are not required to provide documentation, certification, or any papers regarding your disability or your service dog.
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