Service Animals: The Evolving Dog and Pony Show

July 7, 2015Articles Franchise Handbook

Service animals are now a widespread presence in places of employment, business and schools. Entities covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which include state and local governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations that service the general public, must educate themselves regarding their duties and responsibilities related to the access of service animals into their facilities to avoid enforcement actions and suits by the U.S. Department of Justice and private suits by the disabled who are unjustly denied access to venues with their service animal. Though not within the scope of this article, Title I of the ADA addresses access issues for employees as part of potential disability accommodations which is subject to a more detailed analysis.

Service Animals Are Permitted Access to All Businesses That Serve the Public

Title III of the ADA requires privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxis, theaters, concert halls and sports facilities, to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto the business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed. Service animals also must be permitted in schools to provide assistance to children with disabilities. The following guidelines will help business owners avoid potential ADA violations pertaining wrongful exclusion of a patron with a service animal.

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