Service animals play vital roles in helping care for and expand the functionality of many disabled and aging people. Most widely acknowledged from the work of guide dogs for the sight impaired, service animals of all types perform a broad range of tasks including performing tasks like seeing, opening doors, hearing, reaching and other tasks the disabled person can’t perform, detecting and responding to.subtoe signs of a seizure, diabetic shock or other impending medical emergency and providing critical emotional support to stabilize individuals with Post Tramatic Stress Disorder, autism, or a host of other conditions. Learn more.
The accommodation requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state disabilities laws may requre employers, landlords, schools and businesses to permit individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their support animals as part of their duty to accommodate unless the organization shows the accommodation would present a safety risk, undue hardship or other exception to the accommodation requirements. Disabled individuals using a service animal may need to notify individuals of their need for accommodation. Often but not always this notification is provided when service dogs are used by having the dog wear a vest that a densifies the dog as a service animal. Employers, landlords, schools or other organizations should verify that their premises postings do not improperly exclude persons with disabilities supported by support animals and that their staff and landlord understands and is properly trained to comply with these requirements. As for all disability law requirements, businesses and other organizations should carefully consider before asserting an objection to the accommodation of service animals. Organizations that anticipate disputing an obligation to accommodate should expect to be required to produce meaningful proof of this exception to the duty to accommodate. In general, complaints of other patrons will not be an appropriate basis for refusing to accommodate the animal. When about actual or potential disruptions motivate a business to consider denying the disabled person the presence and support of their support animal on the business premises, management should be careful to ensure that the disruption is caused by inappropriate conduct by the service animal rather than disruptive or objective behavior by others on the premises to the presence of the service animal or the person with the disability.
Individuals that encounter disabled persons supported by a service animal need to remember that service animals are performing a job. Because interruptions of the performance of these duties could be disruptive to the disabled individual, the service animal or the environment in which they are trying to function normally, individuals that encounter these teams working together should ask permission before approaching the service animal and should be understanding if discouraged from exchanges or interactions with the animal. While many individuals using or training a service animal may be receptive to these social interactions, third parties dealing with them should take the lead of the owner of the service animal.