PORTLAND, Ore. — People love their dogs. They take them everywhere. But are some pet owners going too far by bringing their dogs into grocery stores and restaurants? Are they abusing the system?
To clear up any confusion, we’ve come up with a list of five things you need to know about service dogs and the law.
1. Dogs are NOT allowed in grocery stores and restaurants.
Oregon law prohibits all animals except for service animals in grocery stores, restaurants and other food establishments. For most people that means your dog needs to stay at home. Only service animals are allowed.
2. Service dogs are trained working animals.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) clearly defines a service animal as animals that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. They are not pets.
“They have a particular task. Hours of training go into a legitimate service animal. They are working,” explained Sandy Lissman, who raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
3. Therapy and companion dogs do NOT qualify as service animals.
Dogs or therapy animals whose function is to provide comfort or emotional support are not covered by the ADA. They are not allowed in grocery stores or restaurants, even with a doctor’s note. Other laws do protect owners’ rights to use them when it comes to air travel or housing.
4. Service dogs do NOT need identification.
Vests, tags or other accessories are not legally required or recognized for service dogs.
5. Business owners can ask two questions. That’s it.
Under federal law, there are two questions employees can ask. First: Is this dog a service animal required because of a disability? Second: What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
“Both of those questions are ways that businesses can check whether or not someone has a service animal or not,” explained Emily Cooper of Disability Rights Oregon. “The reason why the questions are limited is so people with disabilities aren’t having to choose between purchasing a gallon of milk, and their rights to privacy and going about their day like you and I would.”
Published November 13, 2017