When somebody brings their untrained “comfort animal” to a place pets are not typically allowed and the inevitable disaster ensues, our first reaction is often a grin, because — lets’ face it — these stories can be pretty amusing. Unfortunately, tales of out-of-control comfort pets and fake service animals also have a very real insidious effect: people start questioning the legitimacy of the service animals they come across.
This is especially troubling for the growing number of people without visible disabilities or injuries who receive assistance from service animals, or those with non-standard service animals (e.g. a Chihuahua), who are more likely to feel the “raised eyebrow” that questions their honor and legitimacy.
Service animals are quite simply, amazing, and the Americans With Disability Act recognizes and protects the essential role service animals play in our society:
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.
We follow animal trends at NAIA, and while we can safely say there is no epidemic of out-of-control comfort animals and imposter service animals, it is definitely a growing issue that we take seriously, and one we will work to find positive solutions for!