Service Animals in Public Spaces

Helping businesses understand working service animals
Three people stand on a trail with a service dog


Best practices when interacting with service animals

Scenario 1: He is so cute!

A service animal is with a group having dinner at a restaurant. The wait staff walks by and makes cooing sounds to the dog and says “you are so cute,” and then keeps looking at the dog as they work.

Think about it. What needs to happen?

Many of us love dogs. However, we must remember it is not appropriate to talk or gaze lovingly at a service animal as it could distract the animal from doing the tasks they are trained to do.

The takeaway

The waitstaff should allow the dog to focus on its work.

Scenario 2: Free samples

A staff member is handing out free samples at a grocery store when they see a person come by with a service animal. The staff member decides that the dog would enjoy a sample of the chicken they are handing out and wonders if it's OK to offer a treat to a service animal.

Think about it. What needs to happen?

The staff member remembers that at a recent training she learned that offering the service animal a treat is not OK. The staff member continues serving chicken samples to people, allowing the dog to continue doing its work.

The takeaway

Offering a treat to a service animal will distract it from the task it is providing.

Scenario 3: Protecting their privacy

A cashier is asked by a customer what a dog is doing in the department store. The staff member explains that the dog is a service animal. The staff member has the impulse to share that it’s a seizure alert dog.

Think about it. What needs to happen?

El miembro del personal considera si debe actuar sobre este impulso. Recientemente asistió a una capacitación sobre animales de servicio, y recuerda que un cliente tiene derecho a que se respete su privacidad. La información sobre la tarea que realiza el animal debe mantenerse en privado.

The takeaway

While a business has a right to ask two questions to verify that it is a service animal, this does not give them permission to share that information with everyone. Do you remember the two questions? (For a refresher, see the first topic in Tool 2.)

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.