Service Animals VS Pets

Level 9
Cottonwood, AZ

Service Animals VS Pets

I used to list my space as being accepting pets with a fee. I’ve ceased listing my room as ‘pet -friendly with a fee,’ due to the fact that, the majority of the ‘pet’ inquiries where people who’s expectation was that the pet would stay for FREE because they claimed, ‘service animal.’


When I asked these potential guests to provide the proper documentation for a service animal; no one could provide the proper ADA paperwork that certified their animals as a ‘service animal.’

Again, at the time, the listing did accept pets with an added fee. These people did not want to pay the fee. 

Recently, the Arizona state legislature pass a law that clearly states representing a ‘pet’ as a ‘service animal’ is fraud. And, can be charged and prosecuted as fraud. This was a reaction to the number of folks presenting pets as service animals. And, business owners frustration with the situation.


The county I live in provides this sign for business owners and training on the new law. 

I understand that I am required to follow ADA guidelines. I am happy to follow ADA Service Dog Guidelines. I am happy to accept a pet with an extra fee. (Though I no longer list my room as accepting pets, because I got tired of the pet represented as a service dog situation.)

If Airbnb could help and have a ‘certification of service dog’ included in the App. Just like a driver’s license, an authentic service dog has documentation that can be certified. 

Please, help me as a host, respect the law of my country and state by providing a place in the app for guests to certify their legitimate service animals. And, I will happily accept the service animal without an added fee. 

(heck, you could even add a place where hosts review the animal.)



1 Best Answer
Level 2
Washington, DC

I can’t speak for Germany but in the US that’s exactly what insurance, protection from liability. Also, there is no blanket training for emotional support animals.


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72 Replies 72
Level 2
Milan, NY

I just had this exact situation.  In NY we cannot ask for certification of service dog status apparently.  I had a last minute guest on a Friday night who announced after booking that she had a service dog and did not pay the pet fee because of it.  We have dogs and I did list pets ok with a fee, but not any more after this experience.  This service dog peed on my couch upon entry into the house and was fed wet dog food in the bed, which stained the duvet cover.  I have a claim open and am seeking replacement cost.  You can't get pee out of an upholstered piece of furniture.

Level 10
Pensacola, FL

@Jill1205  that's horrible....and what an upset! Do you ask people the only two 2 questions you are allowed to ask about Service Animals??

typically they will know the answers immediately if they are legal and truly service animals as those folks pay thousands of dollars for training and they want you to know that they are legal and legit.

Make sure to file to get cleaning remediation and damage from that pet - I've heard you can claim $300 for cleaning when they screw up. I'd certainly seek replacement cost, you are correct you will never be rid of that ruined piece of furniture. So sorry, good luck, Clara

Level 2
Milan, NY

I need to look up those two questions & you are right!  Fortunately airbnb did the right thing and is covering the cost of taking my couch apart, replacing the batting, cleaning interior frame and replacement of fabric.  The deep cleaning cost is almost as much as replacement.  I didn't ask for extra house cleaning costs, but I should have!  I'm still horrified that the dog wasn't contained in the room at night and wandered the house, peeing on God knows what else...


The guest is upset and has texted me, as she is being asked to pay.   I really don't know what to say to her, but think she should put herself in my shoes.

We also have this issue few days ago Her review was all about harassing them because of their service dog. First and foremost, we love dog as we have our own! We as a host love to welcome every guest as they arrived to feel at home, and she’s complaining about as soon they arrived we approached  them, it just happen they brought a service dog but it’s nothing to do with that, we just want to welcome them and explain the situation. We’re very much aware of the law and the rules and policy in airbnb about service dog, but since we’re an Airbnb with no pet policy, hope guest will considerate enough to tell the host in advance that they have service dog which we’re not against with it law is law! At least  for us to prepare early as possible to find someone to help us do the cleaning as it’s not a regular cleaning at all but deep cleaning, we need to do that in order for us to protect the next guest if they have allergy issue. We’re in a remote area, in a mountainous region, our next city will be an an hour and a half if we’re lucky to find someone to help us. Luckily, we don’t have the same check out as we do have 2 cottages, and hurray we have a late check-in , or else we’re screwed. If the guest who’s checking in that day arrive early we need to cancel her reservation or she need to wait til I finish cleaning, fyi I cleaned  it for 6 hours! We’re trying to explain to her that in the near future and to help other host too, give us an advance notice to prepare because not all airbnb are in a big city that you can easily find a cleaner and not all host have their own cleaner,we’re in a remote area and I resigned from my job as we can’t find any cleaner and need to do it on my own!  And obviously she didn’t read our listing about us on the site ,she’s complaining about it! Though we live in the property, we have our own entrance, our 2 cottages have their own entrance gate and different parking area too . It’s very private and fully fenced! The only thing shared is the laundry area which it’s black and white in our listing. We call the airbnb and they can’t do anything about it because they didn’t violate the review policy guidelines as per airbnb. To use word like harassment is already against the review policy when you’re lying. ABB doesn’t  even care and listen to your explanation. Bu the way, she gave us 3 stars and case manager said we’re still within the target of 5 , which is perfect rating for super host! Duhhhh our case is nothing to do with getting the super host status! ! Sooooo disappointed!

I totally agree! I just posted a very disappointment story about being forced to host two large dogs that damaged my property without a fee as they were claimed “service animals” last minute. These dogs DID NOT serve their young owner as she left them alone most of the day. This needs to stop as they are ruining it for the people that trully needs one service anibal to help them like blind people for example. It is scary to know that any host accepting pets can be forced to host multiple dogs an a horse without a fee! As long as they are claimed “service” 

Level 10
Pensacola, FL

@Paloma188  as soon as the guest Left the dogs alone - I would have messaged and called them IMMEDIATELY - ALL SERVICE ANIMALS CAN NOT BE LEFT ALONE IN A PROPERTY.... either guests take them with  immediately or Airbnb will be cancelling your booking or you need to board them in a kennel. Service Animals are never left alone, they are to provide service to the owners that need them 100% of the time. 

Airbnb will support you on this - don't allow it, because they will do it again to the next host that doesn't know that is the DEAL BREAKER -

Service Animals Can NOT:

be left alone in a property

out of control

Barking and damaging property

a threat to anyone or showing aggressive behavior


Level 2
Pennsylvania, United States

My two listings have "no pets" in the listing, and in the house rules which "guests must agree to your house rules before they book" 

Last week a guest informed me 4.5 hours prior to check in that "Just a quick fyi, I will have my service dog with me"  When I replied that I wished she had mentioned this before because we do not permit animals due to allergy, and also in consideration of future guests. The guest then went on to tell me all sorts of things about the dog's food being hypoallergenic, it was clipped, and so on, and that she fell "under Federal ADA protection and non-discrimination laws"  I contacted Airbnb and was told that I could deny the visit but I wasn't comfortable doing that, so they stayed. I have had a support case going on with Airbnb, and I read through all the links pertaining to service animals, non- discrimination, cancellation, editing the listing, etc.

The short version is, guests are NOT obligated to tell hosts they are bringing a service animal, even if the listing says no pets (and I know a service animal is not a pet!). Hosts also cannot charge an additional cleaning fee for a service animal. 

Hosts can edit their listing to decline pets / animals, but then again, a guest does not have to notify host about a service animal, they just bring them anyway!


I have asked about how a host can legally decline a guest with a service animal. No clear answer.

I have asked what I need to do to get an exemption from having service animals. No clear answer.


I have asked that Airbnb change it's policy to require guests to notify hosts if they are bringing a service animal. Time will tell.


Hosts can only ask these questions:

Do you require the service animal because of a disability?

What work or task has the service animal been trained to perform?



Hello all. 


I need advise. Hope all is well.  I'm new to this and in my rules it says no pets. My guest arrived today and upon check my front security cameras they brought 2 dogs. The dogs have service vests on them. But anyone can get those of Amazon etc. How do I navigate this situation or approach the guest. 

Level 2
Tucson, AZ

I am sad to hear of your predicament.  This has been a problem for me, too.


I have experienced different answers from different Airbnb experts on this, and the actual policy is a bit ambiguous.


One of our host veterans believes that if your booked space is in your own home, you are not required to abide by the disabilities act rules and accept even service animals.


As I read the policy, Airbnb hosts can publish a rule and reject emotional support animals.


The Airbnb policy only allows us to ask certain questions about the service animals.  To me these questions seem quite invasive about how the animal helps but miss the most important host question about proof that the animal is really a service animal instead of a pet.  One host has suggested that Airbnb should verify which guests actually have service animals as part of the ID verification process which I think makes a lot of sense and would prevent a lot of misunderstanding.


I would suggest that you explicitly publish in your listing rules that you do not allow service animals because the space is in your own home (if it is and to explain why you can make this rule) and you do not accept emotional support animals.  This may deter some pet owners.  However, depending on who you talk to at Airbnb, the rep may tell you that you must accept service animals (and even take your listing offline until you respond that you have reread their service animal policy).  And by the way, you cannot require any additional deposit for service animals by Airbnb policy.  Our veteran host has suggested under the conditions mentioned that you can refuse people with service animals and refer them to customer service if they disagree.  But, I think this can work only depending on who they talk to in customer service.  It is a gamble.


Wish I had better answers for you.  We have lost some great hosts over this issue because of getting one of the worse mixed messages from an uninformed rep from Airbnb.

Level 1
Mt Shasta, CA

Who has more rights, guests with service animals or owners/other guest with allergies? 

Level 2
Tucson, AZ

I agree that Airbnb certifying up front that a guest legitimately has (1) a service animal or (2) an emotional support animal would really help hosts and avoid unnecessary confrontations and unwelcome surprises for both host and guest.  Some guests assume they can show up with an animal and call it an emotional support animal and the host cannot refuse.  This up front certification by Airbnb has been strongly suggested multiple times in this forum.  My understanding is that service animals cannot be refused but I thought emotional support animals can be refused up front with a recent revision to policy.  I have in my listing rules that I do not allow emotional support animals and ran it by an Airbnb rep who would neither approve or disapprove my rule but was punishing me at the time for asking for a deposit for an emotional support animal.  As others have mentioned, there is so much wide abuse of pet owners calling their pets emotional support animals for landlords and airlines that some states have made this a crime of fraud.  With regard to folks that are allergic to animal dander or other animal related health problems, it seems like, if documented, they should be allowed to set a rule of no animals but folks have had to leave Airbnb because it has no solution for these folks.  We have lost some really good hosts because of this.

Level 4
Albuquerque, NM

I think the fault here is in you asking for a deposit for an ESA. That itself is not allowed by law. Sorry

Level 1
Fontana, CA

I am currently having this issue right now with my property I had a guest come in with a dog stating it was an emotional support animal a service animal. airbnb is not helping me they stated that I cannot charge an extra fee and I have to except the animal there even though one of my family members is directly impacted when we go out there often with severe allergies. I know we cannot ask certain questions of them and we can’t ask for proof but I think that airbnb should ask for proof uploaded prior to a booking so the owners are aware

You’ve obviously got an issue with my photo!! At the time I was on topical chemo on my face which looks like a really bad fire burn all over my face & didn’t want to take a photo & I have a visual impairment. Everything is done by voice dictation. It’s impossible to search through all my photos ti find a good one. And at the time my cats were  in the flat & wanted people to take note up front as I had tenants who claimed they were having allergic reactions despite the cats not having lived there for over a month & flat deep cleaned. I managed to be honest & win them over. 

I’m sure if I didn’t mention my own disabilities, they would have on at me about the law taking advantage of me as I have no idea about how it applies to Airbnb & it’s quite murky under AST (Assured short hold tenancies UK) . I fear lots of people are using this card now with “emotional pets”. 

but the good thing is that I now understand now what my rights are in this situation should it arise again. They caught me off guard. And I’m telling you they were HEAVY with all their legal links. 

One more thing. I personally, who has disabilities, would never ever force my pets on someone’s home. I find it arrogant. They actually called it an “assistance dog”. When I asked more about it, he quipped that I have no right to ask but told me it was for emotional support for PTSD (which I also have). It was clear this was not a registered dog for assistance. They were coming down for one of the most hectic events I can think of Green Man Festival. I know a lot of people w PTSD & there’s no way they wound be able to cope with the extreme chaos, the extreme noise, and extreme number of of people. Everyone is different w PTSD but this is pretty much across the board. Not for me to judge. I don’t know the circumstances but it did ring odd. 


Level 4
Albuquerque, NM

You are correct and I am sorry they tried to bully you. Hosts have rights and disabilities too. They are judged and attacked too quickly. 

Last night someone booked. I asked if they had read everything & agree (I have a no pets policy). They said yes and then said they would have a dog with them & made it clear they dud not have to tell me, but just in case I saw their dog & thought they were breaking the rules. I chesty have a a no pet policy. This is quite bullying behaviour. I time the person there was a no pet policy ( without PRIOR PERMISSION)  in our building & I would be in breach of my lease. The guest sent loads of legal literature!! I asked what the service dog was for & tike I didn’t have the right ask that. I faked what kind of dog & was told it didn’t matter. I was gobsmacked. It transpired that it’s an emotional support dog. I actually gave a visual impairment & diagnosed disabilities & have taken an employer ti court & won. So I’m all up fir equality etc but this just is not right!! I spent a fortune doing Up my home & still stay there  sometimes. I have very serious underlying medical conditions. I have a property I let out & it’s a no pet policy but I avyuskky accepted someone with a pet because they were so open giving me reference from their landlord about it, they also said I could meet their pet. When keying out an empty flat, it’s not a big deal. I said yes. But this is my home!!! Why should I be forced to allow a dog that I know nothing about & I know nothing about the owners. 

this guest was terrifying in their pursuit of the law with me.  And they misunderstand the law just as Airbnb appears to, I live in the UK so a blanket policy is not fair. I was shocked at this persons aggression. In the end they backed out as it was taking so much time me investigating. This guest was absolutely sure (or they were just trying it in) that they had every right to come stay in my flat with their dog without permission 

@Amy2116 Based on your profile photo, you're a cat. So of course a dog is going to book your listing just to mess with your head and chase you around a bit. What did you expect?

Level 10
Jersey City, NJ

@Amy2116 It sounds like you dodged a bullet there.  For future reference ,you no longer have to take emotion support animals unless you local laws mandate it, I doubt that is the case in the UK, but you should check.  It is also Airbnb's policy that any service animal is expected to be with their person at all times and not left alone at the property, same for an 'emotional support animal', that is an effective way to weed out the fakers, in my experience.

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