I had an exchange with some patrons in my pub today. Nothing that new as I am inclined to grouchiness and am not prone to holding back when somebody is giving me attitude.
It is rare but it is not for the first time that somebody came into my restaurant with an apparent service animal. The dog had an impressive looking blanket on it and was well behaved. When asked for the service dog credentials however, the dog handler got belligerent with my server. When I followed up I was told that the ID card was in the mail. Then was told that a letter from a psychiatrist trumps the need for a service card ID.
To be blunt, that is utter bullshit and I called it such.
Service animals are fantastic and they help improve the standard of living for people with all sorts of challenges. I am more than overjoyed to have people bring accredited service animals into my establishment. If a patron complained about the animal, I would happily invite the patron who complained to go elsewhere. Note use of the term “accredited” though.
To servers and other food service business owners, below is a picture of the ID that ALL people who are in possession of an accredited service animal will carry. Nothing less than the presentation of that ID will allow you to bring that animal into the establishment just as you can’t serve beer to a person who appears to be a minor unless they provide ID.
Here are the steps to apply for an accredited service dog. Click here for more detail.
When a person tries to bring a non-accredited service dog into a food service establishment, it is not a simple “no harm, no foul” sort of offense.
For one, the owner of that establishment may face serious legal sanctions from Alberta Health Services for bringing animals into their restaurants. Whether we like it or not, it is illegal to bring animals into food service establishments and when somebody does so they are putting the livelihood of the owner and the staff at risk with your selfish actions.
The other thing that is enraging is that when people try to sneak fake service animals into places, they set a poor example which furthers challenges to those reliant on real service animals.
It is heartbreaking (not to mention illegal) when one hears of a blind person being turned away from a taxi or an epileptic person being turned away from a pub because of their service animals.
Bad experiences from people with unaccredited service animals unfortunately can inspire some business owners and staff to try to turn away all animals.
I understand as well that many animals provide comfort to people with all sorts of challenges. Good for them. If it works, by all means continue to do so. Don’t try to pretend that it is an accredited service animal though. It is not. Neither the animal nor the handler are properly trained and they can cause havoc in the wrong circumstances.
The means are there to train to acquire accredited service animals. If you need one, I certainly hope you can get one.
In the mean time, don’t try to sneak your uncertified animal into my or anybody else’s establishment. In doing so you put others at risk and harm the credibility of those who have accredited animals.