The ADA and Service Animals- Tips from the Cochran Firm
Many people are not aware of the rules concerning service animals.
Service dogs must be allowed to go anywhere the normal public goes without restriction unless there are mitigating circumstances and the ADA uses a hospital operating room as an example circumstance. A business cannot charge a fee to allow a service animal entrance, even if a fee is charged to non-service animals. According to the law, the only other times a service animal can be barred entrance to a business is if the dog is not housebroken or the handler does not have control of the animal and the animal’s behavior is posing a direct threat to the health or safety of others. Although the animal can be banned, the owner must be provided the option of continuing to enjoy the business’ goods or services without the animal present.
Horses may be used as a service animal when circumstances prevent the use of a dog, such as if the handler is allergic to dogs. Most service horses are miniature horses and are no bigger than a medium to large dog. People with mobility disabilities appreciate the strength of a horse that can be leaned on or used for pulling a wheelchair. Horses can be house-broken and therefore must be allowed entrance to a business, just as a dog unless the handler does not have the horse under control, the facility cannot accommodate the horse’s type, size or weight, or the horse’s presence will compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for the safe operation of the facility.
A business owner is only allowed to ask the handler if the animal is a ‘service animal required because of a disability?’ and ‘what task the animal is trained to perform?’ The business owner cannot legally inquire as to the nature of the disability or ask any other personal questions. They also cannot ask for or bar admittance because the handler does not have service animal registration papers. A handler cannot be treated any different from any other patron. If in the event another patron is scared of or is allergic to animals, it may be a good idea for the business owner or manager to make arrangements for the other patron by allowing them to move to another location in the room.
As service animals become more prevalent, it is wise for business owners to become acquainted with this aspect of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
About the Cochran Firm
Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer. The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or visit their website at http://www.cochrannation.com. “Working for You.” Article by Benjamin A. Irwin, Esq.###
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Benjamin A. Irwin, Esq.
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