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Service Dog Rules for Staying in Hotels

There are a number of people that require the assistance of a service dog. These specialized and highly trained canines provide the person with a disability the right most of us take for granted; to freely participate in all of the activities of life without judgment or discrimination.

However, there are still some establishments, like hotels, that are falling behind on the rights of these individuals. If you or someone you know is disabled and requires the aid of a service dog, the following information is important for you to know.

Can Hotels Charge for a Service Dog?

Under the ADA laws, the hotel cannot charge an extra fee for the service animal as they would another client with a pet. This also means you and your dog will be allowed in the public areas of the hotel, as well as having the right to a floor and room that are not normally designated for people traveling with pets.

What to Expect With Hotels and Service Dogs

When traveling with a service animal, according to the ADA, the hotel staff only has the right to ask you two questions;

  • Is your dog a service dog?
  • What task(s) does your service dog provide?

If the task is apparent (seeing eye dog, wheelchair-related) the staff has no right to inquire about either the service dog or your disability. When dealing with ignorant hotel staff members, presenting your service dog certification and identification card can help alleviate tension. Remember, the staff members are only employees and may not be properly trained in dealing with service animals in the hotel.

In addition, the hotel staff still has to act according to the rules of conduct the general public should adhere to concerning a service dog. These include;

  • Not petting the dog
  • Speaking to or teasing the dog
  • No feeding the dog

The staff is also not required to help you perform any of the tasks related to the service dog such as taking it out to relieve itself, feeding, handling etc.

Service dog card registration

Following the Rules of the Hotel 

Under the ADA, persons with a disability do have a number of rights. However, you will still be expected to follow the rules of the hotel as they are set forth for all their visiting clients.

Your service dog must be under your control at all times, whether this is by the means of a leash, hand gestures or voice control, your dog cannot become unruly. In addition, if your service dog were to damage anything in the hotel room, you are still liable for the cost of those damages.

Hotel Stays with Your Service Dog

Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you should be stripped of your rights to stay in a hotel with your service dog. Under the ADA, hotels cannot refuse you and your service canine accommodations and they cannot ask you personal questions about your condition or your dog’s certification. If an improperly trained hotel staff member makes any of these mistakes, don’t hesitate to ask for the manager.

Staying at an AirBNB with Your Service Dog

As AirBNB becomes more popular with travelers, people have asked us if service dogs are allowed in AirBNB rentals. AirBNB hosts in the United States must allow service animals if they are renting out the entire home or apartment to an AirBNB guest. AirBNB’s nondiscrimination policy requires hosts to allow all service animals into their home unless local laws restrict access for service animals. Please research your intentional destination before booking an AirBNB with your service dog.

dog in a home

Service Dogs Defined Under the ADA

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was established in 1990 and was put into place as a way to prevent establishments from discriminating against those people with a physical or mental disability, which also includes any companion they may have along for help and support. However, those “companions” began moving away from humans to the animal world and many people used this policy to treat their exotic pets such as reptiles, ferrets, pigs and parrots as “service animals.”

To stop people from taking advantage of the true nature of the ADA, amendments have been made to their policies. These changes state only dogs would be considered a service animal and on March 15th, 2011 those changes became official.

However, under the ADA definition, even the service dog will be scrutinized. Their policies state the dog must be there to directly help the person with a disability. This means the canine aids in areas such as pulling a wheelchair, guiding the person safely, alerting to seizures or medications and other services that are needed for the person’s health and well-being.

Although, under the ADA policy, they also ask that establishments make reasonable modifications to also allow the use of miniature horses as a service animal, as these are becoming more popular over time.

Service dog registration kit


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