Accessibility Tip of the Week

No animals allowed, except...

  • Summary: Learn regulations and etiquette about service animals and the people who need them.
  • Who it helps: Anyone who relies on a service animal to assist them.
  • Additional benefits: Clearly indicating that service animals are welcome also shows that you care about the disability community.

Service animals are trained to help people with disabilities with one or more tasks. For example, a service animal might:

  • Help a blind individual to navigate,
  • Notify a person with diabetes about a change in blood sugar level,
  • Open a door for someone who is not able to, or
  • Assist with temperature regulation.

Most service animals are dogs. They are referred to as service dogs, guide dogs, or assistance dogs. Service dogs are allowed in all public areas of many countries. In some parts of the United States, miniature horses are also allowed in public areas when they are acting as a service animal. Not allowing a service animal in a public area is considered a form of discrimination.

In many countries, service animals are certified and registered. In some situations, you may be able to request to see identification or a proof of registration. However, in the United States, businesses and other organizations are only allowed to ask two questions about service animals when they enter a facility:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

What can I do?

First, never pet or feed a service animal while they are working. You should always ask permission before interacting with any animal, but especially with service animals. Assist younger kids or inexperienced staff to recognize service animals and to ask for permission before engaging them.

Many individuals who rely on service animals have experienced discrimination because of their need. Be kind. Consider putting up a sign on your main entrance and a notice on your website that service animals are welcome when visiting your facility.

Finally, become familiar with the service animal rules in your country. A few links are listed below:

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