It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a guest’s animal is an ADA service animal or just a pet. CalOHA, with the help of Hart Kienle Pentecost, is here to help explain the differences.
Our White Paper series, located in the Document Library, outline The American Disability Act (ADA) regulations to clarify the definitions of both service animals and companion animals plus the reasonable accommodations that businesses are required to provide.
A service animal is defined as: “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained, or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability.”
In essence, this means a service animal is not a pet. Specifically, a service animal is a dog (with very limited exceptions) which has been trained to perform work or tasks and provide assistance to a person with a disability. Businesses are also required to make reasonable accommodations to not only the disabled person, but their service animal as well, should they require one.
The biggest inquiry we receive about service animals is what questions you as a park owner are legally allowed/not allowed to ask to determine if the animal being brought into the park is indeed a service animal or a pet. The ADA regulation has two rules:
1. You cannot ask for certification or licensing. The ADA does not require certification as part of the service animal definition.
2. You can ask, in a non-offensive manner, if the animal is required for a disability and, if so, what tasks it is trained to perform. However, if the animal’s service tasks are obvious, these questions should not be asked.
Service animals may also be removed from your premises under limited circumstances. Should there be a legitimate reason to ask the service animal to be removed, the park must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to stay without the animal’s presence.
To view the full ADA Service Animal White Paper, including sample guidelines for guests, check out the CalOHA Document Library!
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