Service dogs are a hugely important part of many people’s lives. Unfortunately, everyday life doesn’t always make having a service dog an easy thing.
Largely because of fraudulent service dogs, many people and businesses do not like the idea of having a service dog in the area.
While this dislike of service dogs is largely because of the fake service dogs that have become increasingly popular, it still begs the question – can you ask for proof of a service dog?
The simple answer? No. You are not allowed to ask for a proof of ID, training school, or anything similar.
This is because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects those with disabilities and their service dogs from being discriminated against.
If you want to find out a little more about service dogs, stick around! We will go through what you can ask a service dog owner to ensure that the dog is a true service dog.
On top of that, we will briefly go over the signs you can look out for in a fake service dog. Sound interesting to you? Keep reading.
Can You Ask For Proof Of A Service Dog?
Below, we will do through everything you need to know about asking for proof of service dogs.
Not only that, but we will take a look at what you are legally allowed to ask, and also how to spot a fake service animal.
Do You Need To Make It Clear That Your Dog Is A Service Dog?
Owners of service dogs are not required to make their service dogs known to the world.
They are not required to use special harnesses or vests to set their dog apart from others, and they do not have to carry an ID.
For someone to do any of these things is a personal choice. No doubt, you will have seen hundreds of service dogs in your time, and perhaps not even half of them make it clear.
While some service dogs might wear vests or special harnesses, not all do.
The choice to use these pieces of equipment may be down to the owner simply not needing it, or just personal choice.
You cannot assume a dog is not a service dog simply because they do not look different to any other dog around them.
Can Businesses Ask For Proof That Your Dog Is A Service Dog?
No, businesses, restaurants, or any other place is not legally allowed to ask for direct proof that a dog is a service dog.
However, there are two questions that they can ask to determine whether a dog is a service animal or not. These questions are as follows:
- Is this service dog task-trained to aid in a disability for its handler?
- What tasks can this dog perform?
No one is allowed to ask a service dog handler:
- Proof of their disability
- Their ID
- Where the dog was trained
- If they are actually disabled
If you suspect that a service dog is not really a service dog, you can report their owner on the ADA website.
Similarly, if a handler believes that a business has abused the law by discriminating against them on behalf of their service dog or disability, they can also report it on the ADA website.
This can result in fines for the business, and can be very easy to do, even if you are not familiar with the law.
Can Service Dogs Be Denied Entry To Businesses?
Service dogs are allowed to go anywhere that their handlers are allowed to go.
However, these service dogs are always trained to a high standard and are incredibly well behaved. Because of this, it is unlikely that a real service dog will ever be removed from a premise.
With that being said, a service dog (or a fake service dog), can be denied entry or removed from an area if they are disruptive.
There are a number of legal criteria that allow a business to remove a service dog or animal from the premises. These criteria are as follows:
- The dog is disturbing people while being off leash
- The dog has had an “accident” indoors
- The dog is being aggressive (lunging, biting, or growing) at people or other animals
- The dog is being loud and barking when it is not for a task, disturbing others
- The dog is sitting at the table or booth while not performing a task (all service dogs should be on the floor at all times)
- The dog is a pet or emotional support animal (emotional support animals do not have the same protection from the law)
Someone who is claiming that their dog is a service dog can still get their animal removed from a business. This can only happen if they exhibit the signs mentioned above.
However, if you suspect that a dog that is being made to appear a service dog is phony, you can report the owner on the ADA website.
You might report a handler for their dog being a fake service animal if the animal:
- They are pulling on their leash
- They have “accidents” inside
- They want to sniff everything
- They look uneasy or nervous
- They are looking for attention
- They steal food from tables or eat scraps on the ground
- They are aggressive
- They are barking or whining
- They are loud
- They are being pushed in a cart or carried
- They aren’t leashed
Trained service dogs are confident, non–reactive, and most importantly, working dogs.
They are not pets, and do not behave in a way that many other dogs will in their surroundings.
True service dogs should not misbehave or act out, as their extensive training should override those wants and desires.
Service dogs cannot be denied access to businesses, and they have the right to be anywhere their handler does.
However, if a dog that appears to be a service dog is aggressive or disruptive, a business is allowed to remove them from the site.
Businesses are also allowed to report fake service dogs to the ADA website.
Similarly, however, a service dog handler is also able to report discrimination against businesses.
This means that before anyone takes steps that could result in legal matters, it’s always best to be 100% certain that a service dog is phony before having them removed.