Letter: What ADA says about animals
There appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding as to what the Americans With Disabilities Act says. Pursuant to the federal statute, a business may ask only two questions: 1) “Is the animal required because of a disability?” and 2) “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?” (A typical response might be, “It is an alert animal who reminds me to take medications.”) No other questions may be asked, nor requirements for identification, documentations, certifications, registrations, etc., are required, nor may a business ask for any of these or ask about my disability. To do so is a violation of the ADA and a business can be investigated and fined by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the disabled person may sue the business in civil court for up to $50,000.
Additionally, if your local county health department states that a jacket or ID is required, it is a violation of the ADA statute to obey that county health department policy. A jacket is considered an “accoutrement,” a courtesy to others to let you know it is a service animal, but it is specifically not required, as the ADA recognizes that some service animals cannot reasonably wear a jacket and carry out their duties.
I have received harassment by businesses regarding this issue on the average of about 10 times a day, and I am positive this harassment extends to other disabled people.
It is a travesty that disabled people should be harassed in this way simply because, as has been stated by most businesses, “there are people who abuse the right.” (Excuse me, it is not a right, it is a law.) What others do has nothing to do with me or other disabled Americans. Nor is it reasonable. If someone is abusing it, but them buying and putting on a jacket satisfies you, the business, then you are both petty and not very intelligent.
We are disabled Americans and have the right to enter any place of business in this country, including restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, grocery stores, etc. It is such a small thing with very disastrous potential for the business, why take the chance? After all, there are people like me who went to school to study law who are willing to file those suits. You have been made aware of the law. You may also read it for yourself: http://www.ada.gov/, http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm, http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm.
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