Service Animals in Public Spaces

Helping businesses understand working service animals
A person with their large service dog is sitting on a patio chair

Service Animals in the Community

What exactly are the rules?

Scenario 1: A poolside barking dog

A person approaches a public swimming pool with her dog. The pool staff lets them know that pets are not allowed. The person identifies the pet as a service animal. After asking the two permitted questions, the staff allows the animal to enter the pool deck area. The person tethers the dog to a bench and goes swimming. The dog is excited and is barking.

Think about it. What needs to happen?

Because the service animal must remain under control of the owner, tethering it and then leaving it would not be controlling the animal. The animal barking at people also shows that the animal is not in control.

The takeaway

The staff should politely remind the handler that they need to have the animal under their control. If this cannot be achieved, then the staff can politely ask that the animal be removed.

Scenario 2: A dog at a diner

A person comes into a diner with a dog. The person quickly tells the host that the dog is a service animal whose task is to warn them of an oncoming seizure.

Think about it. What needs to happen?

The person had provided the answers to the two allowable questions. The host should treat the person just like any other customer, for example, by asking if they have a reservation or by offering to seat them.

The takeaway

At this time, the staff should not ask for additional information about the service dog.

Scenario 3: My dog is registered

A person comes into the grocery store with a dog that is wearing a service dog vest. When a clerk asks about the animal, the person hands them a service animal registration card and says the clerk can’t ask them questions.

Think about it. What needs to happen?

The clerk has the right to ask the two questions. 

The takeaway

There is no registration for service animals under the ADA. Websites claiming this are simply looking to get money.

The scenarios, including all names, characters, and incidents portrayed on this page are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, or products is intended or should be inferred.