Are dogs allowed in restaurants?
Most people would agree that more and more people are bringing their dogs to public places. In recent years, it has become commonplace to see dogs in line at a coffee shop or a bank, riding in a grocery cart at a super market, sitting in a seat on an airplane or, of course, in restaurant dining rooms nationwide.
Most restaurants have some sort of dog or pet policy already in place. For example, many restaurants will only allow pets in outdoor areas while others may require that dogs show documentation of their “service canine” status.
The actual laws governing dogs in restaurants are extremely complex.
Are you certain that your pet policy is legal?
The American’s with Disabilities Act or ADA was signing into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The law includes many things to protect and enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities. Requirements that public restrooms accommodate a wheel chair, busses include wheelchair lifts, sidewalks have curb ramps, etc. are all part of the ADA. The ADA also included provisions to protect the rights of people needing service animals to bring the animals into public places.
A service dog, like a medical device, must be prescribed by a doctor, but the ADA does not specifically define what a disability is. Someone who feels anxious, depressed or perhaps experiences other psychological conditions could be considered ‘disabled’ under the ADA. If a service dog can help with these problems, then a doctor can prescribe the service dog as part of, or as, the entire treatment. Unsurprisingly, as capitalism would suggest, prescribing service dogs online would soon become a new, effective, profitable and sustainable business. Today, there are many online services which allow people to write a brief description of their disability, have their issue reviewed by a doctor who, then, prescribes a service or therapy dog as treatment. The difference between a service and therapy dog is important but more on that later.
Once prescribed a dog as treatment, many people find that their own household pet can be an ideal service dog (and fulfill the treatment prescribed from their new, online doctor).
The ADA defines a service animal as “
Of the three largest states California (2014) and New York (2015) recently passed legislation allowing dogs in outdoor areas of restaurants, like patios and sidewalks. Texas, however, does not allow dogs in restaurants at all. Regardless of state law the ADA, which is federal law, requires all restaurants to allow service dogs anywhere in the facility.