Can I take my service dog into the movie theater?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs must be allowed to accompany their handlers anywhere the general public is allowed to go, including movie theaters. According to the ADA “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Service dogs perform specific services for individuals with disabilities that they cannot perform themselves including guiding the blind, alerting the deaf and helping individuals in wheelchairs pick up items or get in and out of the wheelchair. It is important to understand that service dogs are not pets, they provide vital services for the disabled, and therefore service dogs must be allowed to accompany their handlers. If it is unclear whether the dog is a service dog or a pet staff may ask two questions that include:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Providing the individual can answer the two questions above they must be allowed into the movie theater with their service dog. Service dogs must be under control at all times either by leash, harness, or voice commands and service dogs must also be housebroken. If the service dog is not under control or is not housebroken, they can be asked to leave the movie theater.
Where is the Best Seat for a Service Dog Handler?
The best place for individuals who require service dogs to sit in a movie theater is the wheelchair area even if they do not require a wheelchair as this area provides enough room for the service dog to lay comfortably by their side. If the wheelchair area is full, then any seat is fine, but it is best to keep the service animal out of the aisle due to the low light levels in the theater they can pose a trip hazard to other patrons.
It is a crime to interfere with a service dog accompanying a disabled individual, and when entering establishments (including movie theaters), they may not be isolated from, charged extra fees, or treated differently from other individuals. It is important to understand that discriminating against disabled individuals who require service dogs is against the law and is punishable by imprisonment up to 6 months in county jail and fines totaling $2500.