How some dog owners take advantage of ADA loophole to dine out with pets

Illustration for article titled How some dog owners take advantage of ADA loophole to dine out with pets
Photo: lolostock (iStock)

Those fortunate enough to hang out with man’s best friend seem to want to take their four-legged companions everywhere. To a restaurant, say. And it seems like many brewpubs and the like with outdoor patios encourage canine companionship.


But taking a dog inside a brewpub is a different story. Nashville News4 reports that some dog-owners are using an Americans With Disabilities Act loophole to get their pets inside by claiming that they’re service animals. According to official guidelines, “The ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.” So pretty much anyone can claim their dog is a service dog; says News4, “restaurants can only ask if the dog is a service dog and if the dog can perform a task.” Emotional support and companion dogs are not considered service animals under the ADA.

With more canines visiting such establishments, “Dog trainers and restaurants say this has become a real problem for those who truly need service dogs.” Less-trained dogs may prevent the service dogs from performing their jobs. One of the trainers the news channel talked to likened abusing the ADA service-animal policy in this manner to parking in a handicapped parking space.

Unfortunately, enforcing the policy would be extremely difficult for health officials. Because the ADA doesn’t require proof of service dog status, it would be hard to prove that a dog is a non-service dog. So take this as a PSA, pet-owners: Unless your dog is an actual service animal, please keep them on the restaurant patio.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.


They really need to require proof that an animal is a service animal (or a service animal in training) nothing absurd or difficult just a wallet sized card that could be placed on their service vest or kept in the owner’s wallet. similar to the disabled placard for disability parking spots.