Can a Hotel Ask for Proof of a Service Dog [Expert Answer]2023-01-13
Traveling with a service animal can prove complicated if the general public or hotel staff ask intrusive questions about the animal’s certification.
Some hotels hold a no-pet policy, but you may encounter confusion at the check-in desk if you have a service dog.
There are some questions that staff can and can’t ask you. If you're planning a hotel stay with your service animal, learn what to expect and how service animal law affects you.
Can Hotels Ask for Proof of Service Dogs?
No current, active law states that owners of service dogs must carry legal documentation validating the animal’s status as an assistance animal. Further, because service animals have protection under federal law, it's against the law for hotels to seek papers that certify your animal.
However, that doesn't mean certain establishments won't request certification. Hotel staff may request papers out of ignorance about the laws.
The protections you have go beyond documentation. Businesses also can’t deny your service dog access because a member of staff or the public is frightened of dogs or because they don’t allow pets.
Please note that emotional support animals are classified differently from service animals that assist in a physical capacity. ESAs don’t have protections under the same laws. But for people with disabilities who have a service dog, there are federal guidelines in place for accessing public spaces or venues.
Can You Stay in an Airbnb with Your Service Dog?
You absolutely can. The same rules apply to hotels as Airbnb locations. It's a good idea to let the host know in advance that you'll be bringing your service animal with you.
Even if the host has a no-pet policy, let them know that your animal is for service, and they should make an exception by law. If you let them know, they can prepare their property accordingly before your arrival.
What If a Hotel Asks for Proof of a Service Dog?
Hotel staff may ask you to provide proof of a service dog. Legally, they can’t do this, but if they do, you have a few ways you can respond.
You can inform them that you and the animal have a right to stay in hotels without certification. You can explain that it isn't a legal requirement.
While they can’t ask for proof, the hotel staff can ask you two related questions:
- Is the animal required for disability reasons?
- What tasks is your animal trained to do that help you?
Once you've answered those questions, you are not obligated to provide further information. If they deny access, you can start a legal process against the establishment based on discrimination.
Be aware that questions about making your dog perform at the moment or asking about what your specific disabilities are aren't okay.
The hotel also may request proof of vaccinations or liability insurance. Many businesses want to protect themselves ahead of time in case of damage. It’s a good idea to travel with proof of vaccination regardless of the animal’s status, so this would be good to have, just in case.
Can a Hotel Charge Additional Fee for a Service Dog?
ADA law states that hotels cannot charge additional fees for service dogs. You have to be treated the same way as any other guest at the hotel. The Arizona Development Disabilities Planning Council clearly explains that hotels are not permitted to charge you cleaning fees either.
Hotels can't charge fees for animal dander or hair left by your dog. However, they can charge you for damage left in the room just as they would with any other guest.
You also have the right to spaces meant for any guest, rather than only staying in hotel deemed pet-friendly rooms.
What Is a Service Dog Owner's Responsibility in a Hotel?
As with anywhere you go with your dog, your animal’s care and well-being will be your responsibility. Hotel staff is not obligated to help you with animal care.
It's best practice to keep your dog on a leash or harness unless that prohibits them from completing tasks. The other guests staying at the hotel and hotel staff should not be allowed to pet and feed your dog. Keep the separation between pet and service animal distinct.
It’s best to keep your animal by your side. Leaving your dog in the hotel room while you go out will only raise questions about the legitimacy of the service certification and may pose a threat to the dog and hotel staff.
It's essential to respect that not everyone feels confident around dogs or animals, which could contribute to staff members' attitudes or responses. Set a good example for the future and pave the way for future guests who wish to stay with their service animal.
The same advice applies to your dog too. The hotel staff can request your departure if your dog is causing disruption or damage or displaying aggressive behavior. Keep your dog close to you, or lie at your feet.
Register Your Service Dog with SDRA Today!
In summary, be firm but remain polite with the hotel staff. A service dog performing essential functions may not be immediately evident to staff. Even though the hotel isn't supposed to request certification, keeping your documentation on hand is best.
Rather than being asked to leave the premises in the event of a dispute, it's easier to have some form of identification ready. Registering your service animal makes verifying its status easy without disclosing uncomfortable information about your disability.
Registering your service dog is easy with Service Dog Registration of America. Your registration will identify the animal’s recognized status and the service it performs so that you don’t have to spend time answering questions from hotel staff. Register for free today and travel stress-free with your service dog.
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