Question about ADA and service animals

To say “we’re now at the point” is understating the stupidity of the legislation, which was explicitly designed that way. Who could possibly have foreseen that selfish owners of ordinary pets would abuse this?

I would be interested to know what proportion feel that way. Because the widespread abuse of the current system creates resentment toward all animals, including genuine properly trained service animals. I know if I had a genuine service animal, I would be strongly in favor of licensing/certification, and heavy penalties for cheats.

Especially considering the problems with abuse of disabled parking spaces. Shoulda been a clue.

I would too - but I know I’ve encountered people on this board who claim to be disabled and oppose any sort of certification. I don’t know the proportion who are oppose - but my guess is that there are more who actively oppose some sort of certification than there are who actively advocate for it.

And my guess is that most of those who oppose certification are people who want to pass off “emotional support animals” as properly trained service animals.

Oh I’m certain of that - but I suspect the largest group among the actual disabled is the group that isn’t active in either direction . And advocacy groups and politicians aren’t going to push for certification if only 10% are actually advocating for it , even if another 50% wouldn’t be opposed.

I am disabled and I have a service dog that I’m training. A few thoughts.

Thought 1 is that a service dog is a working dog. Service dogs are generally highly trained to be well mannered, in addition to whichever specific service(s) they provide their owner. My dog does me no good if she is engaging in unruly behavior, or lunging at other animals, or even spending timing making googly eyes at cute kids. When she’s got the vest on she’s working (and often when she’s doesn’t). She’s paying attention to me, and to the environment. She is not roaming the store, or some of the other nonsense described. Think of a guide dog, with a different focus.

Thought 2. Disabled folks are discriminated against. Disabled folks are often economically challenged. Getting a service dog is hard. Yes, disabled people want a properly trained dog BUT (and boy am I speculating) it may be that any push back to further regulation is because people are afraid of further gatekeeping and discrimination.

Thought 3. I don’t see a large contingent of the disabled community pressing for ESA animals to be considered for ADA treatment. If anything, the opposite.

I mean, I don’t think any of that is controversial.

The question is, given all that, how do you feel about the fact that someone can go into a hotel with their untrained pet that is barking, bothering people, whatever; that they can claim the ADA privileges of a genuine service dog like yours; there is no requirement for them to prove it, and nobody is even allowed to challenge their claim without risking a lawsuit.

I mean, the motivation for the ADA legislation being written that way is that disabled people should not have to constantly “justify themselves”. I totally understand that. But it just ignores human nature and the fact that selfish non-disabled people will obviously abuse an honor system. There’s a thriving trade in bogus “service dog” vests, I see them on lapdogs at hotels all the time. It doesn’t work any better than it would if you just trusted that anyone who parks in a disabled spot is actually disabled, and there were no requirement for a permit.

I’m not convinced that the law has such a carve-out/exemption, but I would be happy to be proven otherwise.

I’d be surprised if there wasn’t for a small hotel where the proprietor has a documented allergy (with a formal diagnosis). I mean, why does one disability trump another?

Obviously a larger hotel should not be allowed to get around the ADA by hiring one employee with allergies.


“Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

I have no doubt there are people who abuse the concept of service animals. This hotel owner in this case appears to be full of it.

I’m torn. I don’t like that people do this, but I also don’t want further obstacles in the way of people who already deal with a lot and often have very few resources.

I mean, it could just be an official disk that goes on the dog’s collar; maybe a special mark on your driver’s license as a backup. And obviously no cost involved.

It seems to me that if we cracked down on the abusers with significant penalties, pretty soon people would just assume that any dog they saw in a hotel or a store was a genuine service dog, and by default be accepting and supportive rather than the current rational default of skeptical.

One of the things I’m surprised hasn’t happened yet is for a majority (or very vocal minority) of businesses to ban all animals for ALL reasons and just deal with the fallout, just to make a point that it’s getting out of hand.

Hell, I know a doctor that parks in the disabled spot in our parking lot.

Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe we need to be able to challenge it. I mentioned having some type of ID, which I still think would make sense. But even some type of local/fed facility that could be called in these situations.
Maybe as a compromise, you’d be required to disclose a few more details to police. For example, IF the dog, that you claim is a service animal, isn’t acting or being handled in a manner described by the ADA, the police could request that you make a statement that it is a service animal and what task it does. [Then some middle step where that info is verified]. If you lied, you’d be charged with making a false statement to police and/or some penalties from the ADA.

If there’s no way to verify that a service animal is actually a service animal, there’s virtually no point to having all the ADA laws around it. Might as well just have a federal law that explicitly states all animals are allowed in all businesses and be done with it.

My next question is should those be considered valid reasons? If I’m running a small motel, more or less, by myself and someone shows up with an animal that I’m allergic to, now it’s my problem? I might not be able to properly clean the room or have to spend money to bring in an outside agency to clean it. If I decline to allow the animal, I could be sued.

Does that logically lead to people with pet allergies not being able to own businesses? Does that mean an employee could be fired for being allergic to dogs?

I wonder who would win if allergies were considered a disability?

The airlines sort of did that. A few years ago, there were stories of people bringing all sorts of animals onboard, claiming they had a service emu or whatever. Now, I believe, people are restricted to service dogs or miniature horses and the customer has to provide documentation for the dog.

That’s pretty close to what happened with the airlines, where airline safety had enough clout to override the utter bullshit.

Real, certified-by-a-legit-organization service dogs have a lot of expensive training put into them. Sometimes tens of thousands of bucks. They sure deserve a damn government-issued card.

That’s the thing - under the right circumstances, allergies and fear of dogs are considered to be disabilities that require accommodations and while most of the guidance I’ve read says that in the case of dueling disabilities you should assign the allergic person to a different room and the person with the service dog to different rooms in the dorm . That works sometimes - but sometimes there’s no way to accommodate both disabilities. Suppose instead of an actual hotel , it’s a bed and breakfast with a couple of rooms and no employees other than the host who lives in the house. There’s no way to accommodate both the service animal and an allergic/phobic owner. Or a small open office where a current employee is highly allergic to dogs , and doesn’t just get the sniffles but has an asthma attack when exposed to a dog. What is the boss supposed to do when someone who uses a service dog applies for a job? I’ve never seen anything that addresses the fact that it’s not always possible to accommodate both.

I’m dubious that the hotel owner in this case 1) cleans all the rooms themselves, and 2) is allergic to all conceivable support animals.

Running a one-person hotel/motel operation and having a documented serious allergy to a particular type of animal might be legitimate grounds for a targeted exception from ADA requirements, but that apparently isn’t an option at present.

Though in the case given in the OP, the hotel owner offered what sounds like a reasonable accommodation; a discounted stay at a sister property.

[ my bold ]

Of course, one could (sarcastically) argue that a requirement for someone with a serious allergy to need to prove it is an inappropriate burden.