Had a demand from a prospectus guest saying I had to accept her and her pet as her dog was a service dog and she had a certificate to prove it. In most Province's I believe you have to accept service dogs as they are an extension of the person. However, on checking with the province of BC, where I live, they told me that this law only applied to those with a BC Guide Dog and Service card and hers was Alberta. The lady was very nice and kept telling me to check her card as there are many out there that are not genuine. I googled Service Dog Card and sure enough, a website came up showing the exact card the guest had emailed me proving anyone who had a dog could get one. So beware there are many fakes and the people who are willing to deceive hosts into making them stay in their homes are not the type I, or I should think anyone else wants in their home.
@Gillian in the USA there is no card for a Service Dog.
Even more, it is against the law to ask for any documentation.
There are things one can do to try to help fight fake Service Dogs, but asking for documentation in the USA is not one of them.
I am glad they at least have something in Canada.
@Gillian @Matthew What is often abused here in the U.S. is the certification process for supposed 'Emotional Support Animals' (ESA's). While many are legitimate, I would propose that just as many, or more, are not. I say this as a licensed therapist who legally can certify such animals. But Airbnb's policy is that we must take both ADA-certified animals and ESA's, and if we don't, we can be penalized and Super Hosts can lose their Super Host status for a year. If you want to avoid trouble with Airbnb, you need to go by their policy, regardless of laws that might apply to you and/or to the animals.
Seems both you and the guest missed AirBnB's policy on ESA's, mine has tags, you can get them on Amazon for less than $10, but when booking through AirBnB they are not required.
Just as an add in- the airbnb policy on service dogs-
"It’s important to be aware of the fact that the assistance animal, whether a service animal or emotional support animal, plays an important role in your guest’s ability to travel. However, if your listing includes a shared space and an assistance animal would create a health or safety hazard to you or others (e.g. allergies and pets who are unable to share space with other animals due to a safety concern), we will not require you to host the guests with the assistance animal."
Per the ADA, allergies of a potential future guest is not an acceptable reason to deny access to a disabled person with a service dog. The ADA is federal law and takes precedence over an Airbnb policy.
There seems to be a lot of misinformation in this community about service dogs. I understand that it is frustrating and potentially damaging to your property to accept animals that are not truly service dogs, but owners claim they are, and use the protections the ADA provides legitimate disabled people and their legitimate fully trained service dogs to gain access.
But, there are ways to determine authenticity. The secret is to not worry about any certification, papers etc...The ADA does not require that disabled persons with service dogs present them.
Take a different approach that gets you the info you need-
1. If a guest communicates to you that they have a service dog, ask if they are disabled. Only permanently disabled people are by law allowed to have a service dog. A service dog is not a pet. By law it is a medical assistive device no different than a cane, walker, wheelchair or medication. It is essential to the disabled person's daily functioning. The dog and handler are not separated. An emotional support animal is NOT a service dog. Per the ADA, they do not have the same public access rights. Educate yourself. Know the difference. All business owners need to do this.
2. READ THE ADA SECTION ON SERVICE ANIMALS. Know the law. Legitimate disabled persons with service dogs know the law. People with fake service dogs usually do not. Nor do they know what the International standards for service dog behaviors are. You are allowed to ask if the dog does specific tasks to help the person with their disability.
3. Watch the dog. This is absolutely the best way. A real service dog is specifically and individually trained to help a disabled person with their specific needs. These dogs are tuned into their owners all the time. They watch them, they are obedient, they heel, they are not pulling at the leash, they don't tear all over the house. They are calm, well mannered and obedient. They never pee or poop in the house, they bark rarely, and they are always with their owners. Always. A real service dog would never be left alone in a house or hotel. These dogs undergo 2-3 yrs of intense training and cost thousands of dollars. No legitimate service dog owner would ever leave their dog alone. Also, they need them with them all the time. These are working dogs.
4. Watch for this level of behavior in your guests' service dog. If the dog is barking, running all over, has accidents in the house, is not quiet, calm and under control at all times, you are within your rights to ask your guest to remove the dog. This is not a real service dog per the ADA definition and the ADA allows you to ask your guest to remove their dog from your home. If this becomes necessary, you have to be willing to tell them this. People who pass off their dogs as service dogs count on not being confronted regarding their dogs behavior. Since they usually have not read the ADA, they do know what YOUR rights are.
I am a disabled person with a service dog and a service dog handler. In the past, my black lab service dog and I have had three very successful stays with delightful Airbnb hosts. I share your frustration with the current frequency of fake service dogs, as it has recently made it very difficult for me to book on Airbnb. People with fake service dogs ruin it for both of us. I am writing this contribution to your blog in hopes that Airbnb hosts and legitimate disabled people with real service dogs can team up, support each other and put our energy where it needs to be- focused on those abusing the privledge of having a service dog and causing damage to your homes.
So, my best advice is to educate yourselves and observe the dog. The dog will be the best way to tell who is real and who is fake. If you see behaviors that are inconsistent with a trained service dog, you are within your rights to ask your guest to remove their dog. They can stay, but not the dog.
I hope this is helpful.
Your post has been very informative @Catherine Thank you!!!!!
While I am not in the U.S. I totally agree that people who try to falsely pass of pets as sevice animals or ESAs are creating problems for people who really are dependent on service animals. I would have no problem whatsoever hosting someone with a real service animal - anyone who fakes it and tries to bully me..... I'm not afraid to call the police or security guard (in my apt. complex) to have that lying scammer escorted out. In Korea ESAs don't "exist" - people will think you are a certified nut case that belongs in a mental institution or a scam artist if someone were to insist "my dog is an ESA to help me stay calm and manage my anxiety".
I'm glad you found it helpful. It is my hope that hosts can keep their minds open while they educate themselves and practice their skills identifying service or assistance dogs. Once you start noticing the real ones around town, the ones in harnesses like my dog or the ones with an obviously disabled person (although not all disabilities are visible) and watch the behavior of those dogs, soon you will quickly be able to spot the fake dogs. It's just one of the ways a business owner has to keep informed these days to protect their business, handle guests justly etc... The best way to deter offenders is if Airbnb hosts are more informed than the guest with the fake service who thinks because you can't ask for certification, they can get away with it. I educate merchants about this all the time. They think they are powerless but they are not!
Imagine if Airbnb hosts just included in their Overviews that trained service and assistance dogs are welcome, and that they , as hosts, are well informed of the ADA criteria as well as standard service dog behaviors. How many fake service dogs do you think you'd get then?