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  1. #1

    Default Can a Business Ask for Proof That an Animal is a Service Animal

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: California
    I find most business in California especially Motels to be very unfriendly to Service Dogs. It is to the point where I just want to sue every last place that gives me $%#$@ about expecting to get a room with a Service Dog.

    I know the Federal ADA laws. I have read and Studied them. Even the newest revisions for May 2011. I also know about California Law, including the Unruh act, and that Food And Ag code about Service Dog ID Tags. (FOOD & AG § 30501 - 31683 and California Civil Code Section 51...)

    I know under California law, Any Violation of the Federal Law, Is also a Violation of the State law. And the minimum under Unruh is $4,000.00 plus Attorney fees.

    Basicly it comes down to if i have my Service Dog with me, they can ask if the dog is a Service Animal. If i say "yes" the only other thing they can do is ask what "Service" does my Dog do for me? Like Alert to sound, bring help or medication, Assists with mobility....

    But they can not even bring up the issue of Certification, ID tags, Or any documents or poof that the Dog is a Service Animal. They have to accept my word for it under the law. It can not be asked for. It can not even come up in the conversation. That is the law. Wither the law is good or bad... That is the law.

    Once they know the dog is a Service Dog, they have to simply treat me like I don't even have the dog with me.

    They have to treat me like any other customers. Service can not depend on my disability or the dog. If i meet the"Normal" Requirements to stay there they have to let me.

    And they can not charge an extra deposit. And again, they can't ask about any ID tags, etc.

    YES, i know about Service Dog ID Tags in the Food and ag code etc.. But that in itself is a Violation of Federal law, as such it is unenforceable, and all parties must go by federal law.

    Also as I do not live in California i can't get the blasted things anyway.

    at least 90 % of the time I try to get a hotel room, and i tell them i travel with a Service dog I get one of the following:
    NO DOGS No PETS!..(And they do not understand Service Dog, Service Dog, and so on).
    You and Your Service Dog Are Welcome Here, Provided you have the right ID tags or other proof your dog is a service dog.
    Or you must give a service Dog deposit in the amount of....

    When i explain the law to them at most i get told to call back when the owner or manager is in to get "special" permission to stay there with my "Pet" or without paying an extra deposit, or without having the right ID for the dog!!!

    They don't get that the law states that can't ask what they are asking me to do. The don't get that just saying what they said or making me talk to a manager because of the Service dog is a violation of the law!

    When I make a compliant and tell them that they broke the law and point out it can cost them $1,000.00.... And i ask them to please change their police etc..

    They tell me i was never denied a room so no violation took place as i decided not to pay the deposit or try to pay for a room.. Or other BS.. Or I misunderstood what was said..

    Sorry folks this really gets to me. Any one know how i can get these folks to understand it does not matter If i only called to make a reservation, or was standing at the front desk. The moment they ask the wrong thing, they have broken the law.

    It is upsetting enough to have it happen, but then to be told.. Will you did not make the reservation, and pay a deposit so no law was broken.

    Well they won't take the reservation once i tell them i have No ID, etc..

    So folks how can i get them to understand the law was broken, it is a big deal?

    Or am i wrong??? Really doubt I am..

    Or should i just sue them and let them figure it out when i get a judgment.

    I work at a facility that records all calls incoming and outgoing. Al phones are on a recorded Beep line, so if needed I can request a copy of the tape of the phone call. My work allows some personal calls, but all calls must be made on a recorded line.

    No cell phone calls in the facility.. So they let you use their phones, but all calls get recorded.
    I am open to your thoughts but I'm sick of having it happen, along with the "We did nothing wrong" BS..
    If you do give advise on law, please give me the needed information to get a copy of what ever you reference.

    Again, thank you, and sorry about the rant..

    Man if they just would agree they were wrong, fix their policy and give me a little something, i would not be soooo pissed off.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can a Business Ask for Proof That an Animal is a Service Animal

    The first thing to recall is that you're not actually describing a law - you're describing a regulation, which is an administrative agency's interpretation and explanation of the law. Yes, the new regulations that went into effect as of March 15 of this year are pretty explicit about what a public accommodation may ask of a person who presents with what they claim to be a service animal. But while the violation of a regulation can trigger administrative action, the regulation is subject to challenge in court as being overbroad or otherwise in error. This can cut both ways - for example,
    Quote Quoting 28 CFR Sec. 104. Definitions - Service Animal
    Service animal means 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 individualīs disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animalīs presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
    Only dogs? That can't be right, can it? How can that be reconciled with 28 CFR Sec. 36.302(c)(9), quoted below, addressing miniature horses under the subtopic of "service animals"?

    If you're dealing with larger chains, I would expect them to be familiar with the new regulations and to train their employees accordingly. The smaller the place of accommodation, the less likely it is that they'll be aware of the new regulation. If you don't feel satisfied by their response to your explanation of the new regulation, I suggest reporting them to an appropriate government agency.

    The regulation you're referencing is this:
    Quote Quoting 28 CFR Sec. 36.302. Modifications in policies, practices, or procedures. Subsection (c), Service Animals
    (1) General. Generally, a public accommodation shall modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.

    (2) Exceptions. A public accommodation may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:
    (i) The animal is out of control and the animalīs handler does not take effective action to control it; or

    (ii) The animal is not housebroken.
    (3) If an animal is properly excluded. If a public accommodation properly excludes a service animal under § 36.302(c)(2), it shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises.

    (4) Animal under handlerīs control. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animalīs safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handlerīs control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).

    (5) Care or supervision. A public accommodation is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.

    (6) Inquiries. A public accommodation shall not ask about the nature or extent of a personīs disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A public accommodation may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public accommodation shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, a public accommodation may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a personīs wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).

    (7) Access to areas of a public accommodation. Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a place of public accommodation where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.

    (8) Surcharges. A public accommodation shall not ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If a public accommodation normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.

    (9) Miniature horses.
    (i) A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.

    (ii) Assessment factors. In determining whether reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, a public accommodation shall consider –
    (A) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;

    (B) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;

    (C) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and

    (D) Whether the miniature horseīs presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
    (iii) Other requirements. Sections 36.302(c)(3) through (c)(8), which apply to service animals, shall also apply to miniature horses.
    When a person presents at a business there are usually visual cues that an animal is in fact a service animal. That's intimated by subsection (c)(6), which provides in essence that if it's obvious that an animal is a service animal its handler generally should not be asked about the need for the animal or services it has been trained to provide. As the regulation indicates, in most circumstances the animal will also be on a leash or tether. The owner may voluntarily add additional visual cues, not for the benefit of business owners but to minimize unwanted approaches and contact of their animal and to keep the animal focused on its work, such as the commonly seen "this is not a pet, this is a working animal" vest for service dogs.

    I expect the initial definition of "service animal" to be challenged by people who have service animals other than dogs, and that it will ultimately be revised to reflect that reality and to make the regulations internally consistent. I would not be surprised if a hotel or motel hit with a lawsuit over an alleged ADA violation would argue that the "two questions" regulation doesn't accurately reflect its duties under the statute and case law; once that happens a few times we'll have a better sense of whether the courts will enforce that portion of the regulation as written or allow for a greater level of inquiry than is authorized under the regulation.

    Unfortunately, a big part of the problem is that there is a population of people who will lie to businesses and try to claim that their pets are service animals. It makes life harder for everybody... except, I suppose, the liars.

    Complaints of ADA violations may be filed with the Department of Justice, as described here.

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