It’s no secret that we’re seeing an increase in service animals and emotional support animals here in the US. There are many reasons for this, but the “card mills” which sell service animal certifications, leashes and vests on the internet have definitely helped increase the number of pets that now “claim” service animal status. And for what it’s worth – save your money, as no certifications are required in the US; in fact it’s illegal to ask for them.
So what’s a business or attraction suppose to do if a patron shows up with what I sarcastically refer to as a “purse pet” in tow? Well I encourage business owners to take a page from the play book of the National Corvette Museum; as this Bowling Green attraction not only clearly explains the difference between a service animal, an emotional support animal and a pet on their website; but it also gives potential visitors the heads-up on which four legged friends will be admitted to their facility.
For starters, their website clearly states up front, “Pets are NOT allowed in the Museum. This includes in strollers, carriers and purses (I love that they included purses!!). We do, however, welcome all service animals, as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).”
“The ADA defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Animals whose sole function is to provide assistance or emotional support but are not individually trained do not meet the definition of service animal under the ADA. These animals are not permitted inside our buildings.”
And all of this is word-for-word from the Department of Justice website, so there’s no question about the legality of it all.
And it even gives folks a link to the ADA government website which offers more information at https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm.
For folks that do arrive with pets, or emotional support animals, they also offer a referral to a local kennel.
It’s my hope that more businesses will follow suit and start to follow the letter of the law and exclude emotional support animals and pets. It’s about time.
For more information about this subject, and guidelines from the government about what you can and can’t do in regards to service animals, visit https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html. That link also offers consumers the following warning about online card mills.
“There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.”
So lets all encourage businesses to follow the letter of the law; which in the long run will benefit folks with legitimate service animals. It’s not fair for them to get a bad rap just because some folks want to skirt the rules and take along their pets.
Good going National Corvette Museum! I look forward to visiting your facility next month on our road trip. I also hear that it’s very accessible.