Service dog

Boquete, Panama
Level 2

Hi. We are an owner occupied property with four listings located in Boquete, Panama. 

We had a guest book a same day arrival last night. They did not mention they had a dog with them. We are a no pet property. Upon arrival a pit bull was with the couple, they claimed it’s a service dog. We have a large German shepherd on the property as per our listing information. He is people friendly, but definitely dog reactive. The guest provided us with a “certificate” stating their animal is a service dog. We have googled the certificate and it’s from an online company that requires no evidence to purchase. Ie. We could register our German shepherd as a service dog with one click and a $50 PayPal payment. 

The guests Facebook profile mentions how “independent” their dog is and how on hikes the dog loves to go exploring on her own, comes back to check on her owner and then goes off exploring on her own again! She also mentions how she got it from a pound in the USA (the guests are American van lifers on an extended tour through Central America) and that the dog was totally broken when she got it. No mention anywhere on her extensive Facebook postings of training or it being a service dog, just a load of adopt a pit bull from a shelter stuff. 

they returned to our property this morning having been out. The car park is a good 300ft away from their room, down steep slope which is stepped. The dog was on a lead and being led by the other guest the entire way, not even the person who claims it’s her service dog. 

we went into their room while they were out to check the fuse board as we had a power cut, and there is dog hair all over the sofa and bed. They are using the human crockery as dog bowls.  They have not bought any dog bowls or any dog bed with them. 

Are we correct in assuming that the guest has a right to stay, despite service dogs having NO LEGAL RIGHTS in our country, just because it’s Airbnb policy? I strongly suspect this is a fake service dog and we feel totally conned by this couple. 

I don’t want to be downgraded by Airbnb in any way, but have we any rights at all to cancel this booking without penalty? I reiterate that service dogs have zero rights under Panamanian law. 


1 Reply

Re: Service dog

Canterbury, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Peter-And-Sarah0   This is a really difficult one because it would seem quite obvious that the guests are being somewhat ‘economical’ with the truth here and you are very restricted as to what questions you can ask them as far as Service animals are required.  They are clearly using this to their advantage.


Although there may be no rights to people with service animals in your location, you have agreed to Airbnb’s terms and conditions when using their platform and therefore have to abide by them


Moving forward, you could collect your ‘evidence’ as to why you believe this is not a service animal and contact customer support, express your disappointment  and ask them to make a decision and ask them if they can cancel the reservation penalty free for you.  Also explain the potential issues with your own dog.

If their stay with you is a short one, it might be better to just try and ignore it no matter how frustrating it is and then submit a claim for  additional cleaning fees once they have left.

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