Q: My Service dog in training was denied access to a clinic that I was going to for my social security evaluation.
receptionist stated that service dog is only for the blind and deaf. What can I do?
A dog who is a trained service animal is permitted access under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Examples of service animal work include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. However, an emotional support animal is not a trained service animal. One issue is that your dog is still in training and does not yet meet the definition of service animal under the ADA. Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, some State or local laws may cover animals that are still in training.
Under the ADA, State service animals are generally allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is allowed to go. For example, in an exam room. You may be asked two questions about your service animal: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. They cannot require medical documentation of your disability, or require a special training documentation for the dog. The service animal must be under control with a harness or leash.
The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice (the Department) to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. There is an ADA Information line at 800-514-0301 and 800-514-0383 (TTY). You could share this ADA information at https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm with the business. You can also have them call the number provided above. If the business continues to deny access, then a person may file a complaint for violation of the ADA with the U.S. Department of Justice.
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