I have just experienced my first Service Dog (I was told I would be sued if I didn't accept it) and per Airbnb, I have no choice. However, I do strongly feel Airbnb should require proof of certification. I have no problem if there is a certification, but anybody can say they have a service pet. We all know animals require more cleaning and vacuuming.

37 Replies

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Andrew0 we have no idea who gave the OP this "threat." If it was the guest,  a stranger,  or a fellow host who was also salty about service animals.  Maybe they will enlighten us. I have had many a bizarre request/threatening conversation with a guest or potential guest so its possible that it was the guest indeed. But I think its important not to jump to that conclusion until we have more info. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Andrew0  this is an interesting point. I for example have to get a license from the city. I also make a choice to put my accommodation on the World Wide Web, pictures and all. I would think I have crossed into a public accommodation territory. After all, some hotels are owned by one private person yet they are not a private home. I am not disagreeing with you, just making some counter arguments. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Anne10379 

 

If guest says they have a service dog its best to just use that as an opportunity to pass on some rules. My only guest with one happened to be be a fake one who only let me know after they checked in and did damage to bed spread. But with Airbnb you have to pick your battles. In most parts of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, several breeds of dogs are banned, and even in San Francisco some breeds of dogs require a permit to breed them and require training to cut down on intake at shelters and well as public safety. 

 

"In San Francisco, it is illegal to own an unaltered Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix. Also in effect is San Francisco Health Code Section 44, which requires owners to obtain a permit from Animal Care & Control in order to breed their Pit Bull or Pit Bull mixes. If you have questions regarding these laws, call SF Animal Care & Co."

https://www.sfanimalcare.org/the-right-pet/high-risk-dogs/pit-bulls/



There are some great science based documentaries on dogs, such as Decoding Dogs, on NOVA. For example dogs are the most diverse mammal on the planet; no other mammal is 1/3 as diverse as dogs. If more people watched educational documenters and science, US policy would improve and resemble other parts of the world that have more progressive social policies. In fact it would be interesting to see the different rates of dog related injuries and claims in various parts of the world but that's all part of the trust and safety department, and host have to more vigilant and proactive to address potential risk. Which is true for all guest and not just ones with pets. Its up to host to research polices and develop strategies as STR can have risk involved. 


 

 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

The bottom line is that its the homeowner who is responsible for any injures on the property. For example if guest brings a dog without letting host know, it injures a neighbor. (The leading cause of dog related injuries is someone falling and average medical bill for dog related injury about 20k) It would fall on whoever owns the property. In general higher risk for everthing in US I would also imagine policy is structured to limit liability, so it becomes issue between host and guest. Maybe that's why we will never see an option to notify host that guest are bringing pets as that could translate into negligence for not better vetting guest to make sure pets aren't a danger. So host can do stuff like have a outdoor camrea and if they notice potentially dangerous pets out of control or aggressive, have the reservation canceled. 

 

I never could have imagined a dog could be dangerous until me and my dog were attacked by a masstiff that was originally bred to hunt lions in Africa. That's why a lot of host with dogs don't want guest to bring dogs. 

I have yet to have a guest with a real service dog, but would gladly host them and love seeing real ones out in public. Its a shame everything has gotten so complicated and dangerous.  

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

I just want to say once and for all that we have about 60% non pet travelers and 40% pet travelers. My cleaning crew makes sure to note if there is "extra" because of a pet during the stay-- more time required, more damage, etc. The MAJORITY of the time they cannot tell if a pet has stayed in the cottage. Now and again its obvious with hair left behind, but more often than not, they ask me if the guest had a pet. Their only clue is the trash can on the porch for dog poo, which we empty. If they don't check that and see baggies, they very often have no idea.

 

The "animals are always extra cleaning" is simply not true. You know who is always extra cleaning? Toddlers. Especially if there are more than one, or a distracted parent. In fact, my cleaning crew complained so much about a stint of several families with young kids in a row that it factored into our decision not to allow "infants." 

 

Each host gets to decide who they allow into their space. But I definitely draw the line at requiring my guests to disclose their disability and prove to me that they need assistance. I frankly think its quite inhospitable. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Laura2592  very well said

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Inna22 thanks. I get really tired of the way people respond to this topic. Always makes me think "what if it were you with the service animal? would you want people to treat you that way?" There are definitely people who make a mockery of this with emotional support peacocks and the like, but honestly? I would much rather err on the side of graciousness in this instance. I am not a medical professional, and your disability is your own darn business. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Laura2592 there are always these talks about emotional support worm and emotional support pig and so on. Has anyone actually seen one? The only pigs I have ever had were humans who left a huge mess

Re: Service Dogs

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Laura2592  Would you consider it inhospitable for a home (like yours) to have stairs and therefore not be fully wheelchair accessible?

 

There are far more wheelchair users in the world than there are owners of service dogs, and it's pretty dang hard to plan a vacation around wheelchair accessibility. But Airbnb doesn't require hosts to add ramps and elevators and such when their homes don't happen to be a fit for that. And yet, it does see fit to make hosts feel forced to accept animals in their homes despite having no-pets policies, far beyond what is actually required by the ADA and even farther beyond almost every other country's laws.

 

I'm not convinced that a fear of extra vacuuming is in and of itself a great reason to turn away an animal, but what I feel much more strongly is that a fear of getting sued is a terrible reason to accept a booking you don't want. In any peer-to-peer transaction, both parties should feel that it's a suitable fit for them, and you know first hand how bad the results can be when it isn't. 

 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Andrew0 this is a specious argument. Normally I agree with a lot of what you say, but I can't see that spending a lot on permanent modifications to your space is the same as allowing an animal in for a few nights. Any guest carries a risk of damage and extra clean up. My argument is that its not a higher risk for an animal than it is for a human, especially a small human (coming from my hosting experience), and that its a violation of HIPPA laws to demand that a guest "prove" that their service dog is legit.  

 

I just can't comment on the lawsuit threat until the OP comes back and explains context. I hope she will.

Re: Service Dogs

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Laura2592 

The issue is that the ABB pet policy as a whole allows loopholes where guest are simply bringing pets to listings that have no pet policy. This puts host at higher risk. Dog bites are the leading claim against homeower's insurance. 

https://www.netquote.com/home-insurance/common-home-insurance-liability-claims

 

 Its not an ESA peacock, guest are just bringing their dogs without any notice to no pet listings. Host are taking all the liability. This is causing some host to ask about how to prevent this but its complicated because there isn't any standard proof of support animals. My point is that the risk of dogs in general are higher than most people might realize. I also think that as our culture becomes more diverse, such as San Francisco, policies will likely adapt to protect both the general public and those with disabilities from people abusing the system, and just making money.  

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@John5097 I am sorry we will have to agree to disagree 🙂 Its hard for me to state from my own experience that hosting a dog is rife with cleaning, bites, and damage. As a landlord I allowed tenants to have pets. We have pets in our home. I have worked in animal rescue and have seen all manner of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, birds, even potbellied pigs. I have dealt with poorly trained animals, breeds with dangerous reputations, aggressive animals, you name it. I understand what a pet host is getting into and understand that others may choose not to do that. 

 

The service animal debate is totally separate to me. The "loopholes" exist because of privacy laws about health information. If we allow hosts to start interrogating guests to find out if their service animal is "real" we are violating the individual's right to privacy about their own bodies and health. Its not that I think all hosts need to be pet friendly. Its that I value my own privacy so much that I would willingly allow some spurious emotional support animals into my space once in a while in order to preserve the right not to share information about my individual health status or abilities. Even if I did not allow pets I would feel that way. Until we have different laws, I choose to err on the side of believing people who say they need a service animal. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Laura2592 

No worries. As always I appreciate your input and I don't think we are necessarily in disagreement and we are just bringing awareness to separate aspects of the complicated subject. I think the OP was just hoping there was some way to verify service dogs to prevent and protect themselves and their neighbors against those who are abusing the system. She specifically said she would host service animals. Likewise I also said I would love to host guest with real service animals but so far have only had one fake one and several guest bring dogs without any notification, that were outside running loose on their own with no fence or anything. I thought it was another neighbor's lost dog along the marsh that I often rescue and get them back home. Real service dogs such as seeing eye dogs are being attacked, mauled and sometimes killed by other dogs. I wouldn't be surprised at all if its people with disabilities who rely on service dogs want to make some improvements to verifying service animals, but would have to hear from them. It used to be just having a service vest on the dog was good enough and back then people didn't abuse the system, and a dog bite was a puncture wound. Now its completely different, society has changed. You defiantly make some valid points. The way the entire ABB pet policy is structured, there may be less liability by accepting pets, that way the host can have rules and better communication. Its specifically the guest who are abusing the ESA and support animal policy that are creating the highest risk. Anyway sorry this branched a little off topic. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@John5097 of course! I always value your insight. Thanks for putting your point of view out there. We don't all have to agree, but I always appreciate a well reasoned alternative perspective. I am a little touchy about animals having seen what some humans do to them through years of rescue work. I think being pet friendly is often more scary for people than the reality of it. I feel strongly about protecting my privacy and the right not to share what is going on with my body 🙂 But these are all my opinions, based on the experience I have. Others have different experiences that have shaped different opinions. Its good to be able to discuss them cordially. 

Re: Service Dogs

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Laura2592 Yes, good convo. There are so many aspects. To make progress people need to be open to minded and find educated approach to public policy. So many scams and dishonest people taking advantage of people's good will and emotions or situations like this. I've read stories where rescue groups purchase 1/3 of the dogs from puppy mill auctions year after year to adopt them out as rescue dogs. 


https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/puppy-mill-dogs-sold-as-rescues 

 

I think all victims should be recognized to help formulate better public policy that prevents both animals and people from being victims, and not just about making money. 



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