Register My Service Animal often receives calls asking what to do if a business does not allow service animal access. Individuals that do not have service dogs are not always familiar with the ADA laws and the legal rights of people that rely on service dog. Here are some suggestions for how to handle a situation in which you feel you or a loved one has been unfairly denied access with a service dog.
Attempt to Stay Calm
It can be infuriating to be denied access to a place that legally should be easily entered but it is important to keep your composure. The outcome is more likely to be positive if all parties can calmly discuss the situation.
Explain the Law Especially if Laws Conflict
It may be that the person you are dealing with is not aware of the laws or it is possible that state laws conflict with the ADA provisions. The ADA indicates that in cases where a conflict arises between laws, the law that is less restrictive for the person with the disability takes priority. For example, a state law may require that a service animal have identification but the ADA prohibits requirement of certification or proof of training. Since the ADA law provides greater protection, it prevails. Consider carrying law information cards that will help clarify the legal rights. These can help prevent an argument as they provide facts and additional contact information if needed.
Ask for a Supervisor
If it seems like you are not making progress with the person you are speaking with don’t hesitate to request a supervisor or manager get involved. It is possible they will have more training regarding ADA issues and therefore may be more aware of the laws. Again, consider providing a law information card which will aid in providing a clear explanation. Consider offering to call one of the numbers on the law information card or the police to help explain the legal rights if necessary.
Disability Advocacy Groups
If you are still unable to gain access, consider contacting a disability advocacy group that can pursue the issue for you until a resolution is reached.
It is unfortunate that those with service dogs sometimes find themselves in a situation in which they need to defend their right to public places. Following the above suggestions should help issues encountered to be addressed calmly and with the correct final result.