paula asked in PetsDogs · 8 years ago

how to ask about a dog being a service animal?


I work in retail an have a sign on door for no pets allowed except service animal have a customer who brought in a small dog an said it was a service animal when i asked him about the service he said the dog couldn't be left alone an that he had papers to prove it. well to make along story short i asked him to please take the dog out and he in return said a few choice words and called the town counsel. I need to know how to address this issue because i'm not trying to discriminate against anyone who does truly need the help of a service dog.

11 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Here is the ADA (Federal Govt) website which shows what you can and cannot ask for when someone comes into your establishment with what appears to be a service dog. Print this out and reference it.

    Note that there is no requirement for any type of "vest", "ID", or "paperwork" which must be worn or presented when asked. Also note that if the dog is not behaving properly, you have the right to have the animal removed from your establishment.

    Source(s): Husband of blind woman who uses a guide dog.
  • 8 years ago

    You're allowed to ask two questions:

    1. "Is this dog a service animal needed because of a disability?" (Answer must be YES. Only disabled people can have service dogs)

    2. "What task or service has the dog been trained to perform?" (Companionship, affection, support or providing security are NOT legal tasks).

    IF this person said "the dog couldn't be left alone" that's NOT a task that is performed to mitigate a qualified disabled owners disability, so I wouldn't accept that. The dog not being able to be left alone is called "separation anxiety". A dog with this would NOT make a good service dog, and the DOG not wanting to be left alone isn't a legitimate reason to have a service dog.

    " He had papers to prove it" What papers? Did he show you them? Did he buy them online? ALL certifications, registrations and licensure sold online are SCAMS. If someone tries to present any of these, it's a sure sign the dog is a fake service dog.

    I investigate fake service dogs and, from what little you've told us, I believe you are in the right. But next time, ask the person to remove the dog but tell them they are welcome to continue shopping.

    And service dogs are not required to wear a vest or any identification, so just because one doesn't have a vest on doesn't mean it's not a service dog.

    Good luck


    Source(s): Service dog owner/handler and service dog law violation investigator.
  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Most legit service dogs will wear some sort of identifying vest or ID, but by law this is NOT required. Also by law there is only 2 questions anyone is allowed to ask and require an answer for..

    1) is your dog a service dog?

    2) are you its legal disabled handler?

    Any question beyond those 2 they do not have to legally answer. If you ask anything else they can answer if if want but they do not have to do. I often have people ask me what my dog does simply out of curiosity and I am always willing to tell them all about him!

    However..when you did ask and the person told you the DOG could not be left alone..that is NOT a service dog. That is just a dog with separation anxiety and has NO legal rights under the ADA law...the ADA law protects HUMANS with disabilities not animals.

    Even if a dog is a legit service dog you can ask them to leave if they pose a threat/nuisance to your business and the handler can or will not keep them under control. Posing a nuisance includes

    damaging merchandise *not touching but actually damaging*

    barking excessively

    relieving itself in the store

    growling or barking at other customers

    not being under control via a leash or verbal command control

    As a last resort you can suggest calling the police. They are allowed to ask the handler questions you are not. Honestly though most service dog handlers are like me and are glad to tell you about their dogs. Like myself most handlers are extremely proud of their dogs and more than happy to give you more info then you may need! lol. If you find someone that is very evasive about their dog that is someone to look further into.

    I hope this helps and please feel free to contact me if you have further issues. I deal with this sort of thing every day from both sides of the issue.

    Source(s): Handler of a service dog for 11 years. Service Animal Advocate and trainer. Please feel free to contact me through my profile or write me at just put "service dog questions" in the subject line.
  • 8 years ago

    Businesses are generally permitted only to ask whether the dog is a service animal required because of disability and what the animal has been trained to do to mitigate the disability. However the owner cannot be asked about the disability itself. Doing so can be construed as discrimination. Many businesses base their information of how the service dog is acting in their business. For example a dog that quietly lies under the table at a restaurant will not be questioned in most cases. A dog that is jumping around, barking, and begging can be asked to be taken out of the restaurant. The disabled owner must be readmitted if the owner chooses to return without the dog.

    Source(s): old balanced trainer
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  • 8 years ago

    3. Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

    A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability

    From what I understand and I tried to google it, you may not insist on proof that the dog is a service dog. Which to me seem counter productive as what's to prevent anyone from claiming their dog is a service dog just to get admittance

  • 8 years ago

    It is possible that a little dog could be a service animal, It could be a hearing ear dog or a dog for someone who has a emotion problem,like a solider.

    But the dog is required to wear a vest saying its a service animal., Since the customers dog didn't have the vest I do not think this was one,

  • Jo Han
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Not sure exactly what you're trying to ask here.

    If a dog is a service animal they will be wearing a vest that says "Service Animal".

    If you have a dog and you want him to be trained as a service animal, try contacting your local vet's office and ask them if they can refer you to someone. However, service dogs are trained starting at 4 weeks old, so if your dog is older than this the chances of it being trained as a service animal are slim.

  • 8 years ago

    Give us more information: You mean how to ask a stranger if their dog is a service dog when they enter your place of business? How and who to ask to make your own dog a service dog? How to politely ask someone about their service dog - age, breed, where they got them, etc?

    ADD: Are you in the US or the UK? In the US, he must follow the ADA - that is, HE must be disabled and the dog must be trained to perform a specific task that mitigates one or more of his disabilities. A *dog* that is disabled has no access rights. If he said that the "dog can't be left alone" then it is just an ill-trained pet and has no access rights. If he said that he can't be left alone - i.e. the dog must accompany HIM because HE has a disability, then the animal is a service animal.

    Learn more here: and

  • 8 years ago

    how to ask about a dog being a service animal. You can try this link.

  • 8 years ago

    I'm going to go out on a limb here...but maybe, "Is this dog a service animal?"

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