Golden retriever service dog under booth at restaurant

Indoor Dining (Part II-for owners)

It is important for you to know, if you own a restaurant or are a manager at an establishment and are hesitant to grant a service dog access to your facility, these are highly trained dogs. You are not financially responsible for any damages the dog incurs, also, most insurances will cover you (because of the ADA). Please, do not have your host or hostess make a person with a service dog stand there and wait (in front of all the other people) while they go check with a manager. This can be extremely embarrassing for that person and this should be something that all hosts and hostesses should know. If a customer has an allergy or fear of dogs both the handler and the customer must be offered accommodations (like being seated at different locations). Someone with a service dog is allowed to use the self service food line (like a salad bar or buffet) and may not be prohibited from any communal food preparation areas. This does not mean they are allowed in the kitchen, but if food is being made out in the open, like a line at Subway they would be allowed to go through it

The law does mention that service dogs need to be leashed, and while this is true, they do not need to be leashed all the time. The law says they need to be “under control”, this means that the dog must follow handler’s verbal command or by another method. (question 27 on the ADA faqs page). The dog shouldn’t be wandering around, barking repeatedly, or going up to people uninvited.

If a service dog is acting out of control, you are legally allowed to ask them to leave, but only after you have given them ample opportunity to rectify the situation! I was recently talking to Heather Turner, a SCORE mentor, who has counseled two restaurants and an inn who ran into issues because they kicked out patrons with diabetic dogs. She says, “a small dog can be used in a sling near a person’s face because the dog is a diabetic sniffing dog for low blood sugar”. All breeds of dogs can be service dogs and I only mention the sling as it is just one instance where you might see a service dog being carried but this does not mean that they are a pet, there is a legitimate reason they are in a sling.

Heather also advises that you when ask them to leave, that you can ask the “dog” to leave, but you can’t ask the handler to leave, if it’s a “real” service dog the handler will leave with the dog.

If you have a specific question or concern, please contact me.