Are Service Dogs Allowed in Restaurants?

Golden retriever wearing bandana sits at set dinner tableService dogs are invaluable to those who own them as they often allow people with disabilities to regain independence in their lives. However, service dogs can only be of use if they are allowed to accompany their handlers into businesses, including restaurants.

Whether you’re a restaurant owner or a person with a service dog, it is important to know the rights afforded to service animals by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a service dog owner, you may, unfortunately, need to stand up for your and your dog’s rights.

As a restaurant operator, understanding service dog rights will prevent you from discriminating against persons with disabilities, which violates the ADA (and will also not look very good on Yelp – or possibly worse, a viral video). Restaurant owners must obey the law and avoid unjustly treating those with service dogs.

This article will answer all of the questions one might have regarding service dogs in restaurants.

What Is a Service Dog?

First of all, it is important to know what a service dog is so that you can understand just how vital they are to their handler’s well-being. When most people think of service dogs, they think of guide dogs for the blind, but service dogs can be trained to help with a plethora of different disabilities.

For example, medical alert dogs can warn someone up to 45 minutes before they will experience a seizure. Medical alert dogs can also be trained to identify dangerous drops in blood sugar or blood pressure.

Service dogs can also help people with mobility issues by providing extra stability and retrieving objects. For those with hearing impairments, service dogs can alert them to certain sounds. Some people with life-threatening allergies have service dogs that use their noses to identify these dangerous allergens and alert their handlers.

Service dogs aren’t just for physical disabilities, either. Psychiatric service dogs can be used by people with mental disorders such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more. These dogs help their handlers by interrupting self-harm behaviors, providing grounding, making extra space or barriers between the handler and the public, offering deep pressure therapy, and much more.

As you can see, service dogs are vital to their handlers’ well-being. The official definition of a service dog, as provided by the ADA, is “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.”



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