Dr. Dolittler

Service animals, large and small, have legal rights

 

khulyp@bellsouth.net

Q. My daughter, who has epilepsy, relies on a small, well-behaved service dog. She was mortified recently at the airport when the ticketing agent loudly demanded she show what “function” the dog performed. Please let your readers know that service-animal owners are exempt from such intrusive questions.

As a veterinarian required to sign travel- and housing-related documentation for service dogs of all stripes, I’m often treated to stories similar to yours.

The Americans with Disabilities Act allows only “limited inquiries” about an individual’s service animal. In cases where it’s unclear what service the animal provides, as with your daughter’s seizure-alert dog, just two questions are permitted, according to the ADAs website: “Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?”

Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical or training documentation or “ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”

Though even guide dogs for the blind are still illegally denied entrance to some establishments, it’s my experience that owners of smaller service dogs tend to attract greater scrutiny.

A final note: Though many dogs also serve an emotional support function and may be registered as “emotional support animals,” neither the ADA nor the Air Carrier Access Act recognizes them as service dogs.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami and blogs at www.dolittler.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave. Doral, FL 33172.

Read more Pets stories from the Miami Herald

  • How to care for your pet without breaking the bank

    It's a shame furry friends can't pay for themselves. Though wagging tails after a long day at work may make pet ownership seem worthwhile, a happy pup won't stop those bills from rolling in at the end of the month. Thankfully, quick and easy ways exist for dog owners to cut down on costs.

  • Pet Vet: Rabbits can show aggression, especially males

    Andrea writes in concerning her 18-month-old male Netherland Dwarf rabbit that has suddenly become aggressive, especially when approached in his cage. Andrea has heard that neutering him might help this aggressive behavior and wants to know if, at 18 months of age, he might be too old for that procedure.

  • Dog lovers nationwide unite for ill pitbull Sheba

    The precarious medical condition of Sheba has improved - along with the finances of a Chicago animal rescue group - thanks to a lot of dog lovers who were captivated by her story.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category