A member of my gym says his dog is a diabetes service dog. The dog slobber alot and is as big as a small horse. Some members have said they do not want to work out when the dog is there. What legal requirements must I observe to comply with law in this area?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): South Carolina
Nothing. Just trying to find out what we can or must do.
Hello and welcome,Has the member provided any documentation indicating that this dog represents a reasonable accommodation under federal law?
Here is what my manager says the member told him (the member is a male). I gather he did not ask for documentation.
She states she is a dog trainer and that the dog can identify if she is having a diabetic issue and comes to her aide??? The dog was wearing a tag but I did not review paperwork for animal. IF her diabeties is THAT bad can we not deny her a membership for Health reasons....The concerns are the size of animal, lack of space, fear for other members, cleanliness issue. Members are afraid of the dog. It is huge and seriously slobbers alot. May I ask her for the paperwork you speak of and state I am having our carrier review the liability?
I see.Since they are a regular member, you can typically require that they provide something from their physician indicating that they have a disability under the ADA (the statute defines a disability as a condition significantly affecting a major life activity, such as walking, talking, or breathing).If the individual does have a disability and this IS a service animal, then there is little that you can do to prevent him from using your facility since federal law makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual because of their disability.In fact, you may exclude the animal from your facility only if the animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others normally. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually. Drooling, shedding, or other normal behavior would not normally be enough to exclude the individual or their service animal.Here is a link that provides more information:http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htmIf you believe this is one of the extraordinary circumstances that affects the health/safety of the other members, then it would be best to retain a local discrimination law attorney to guide you through the process of denying entry by the animal since a lawsuit is likely to be initiated if you take such action.
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Thank you and all the best to you,
Hello, hope I can ask one follow up questions. Is it reasonable and/or permissible for us to ask the member to provide documentation that the dog is trained to be a diabetes service dog?
It is typically reasonable to request that the member provide a note from their physician indicating that this dog is a service animal as defined by the ADA. If that is true, then the member does normally have a right to bring it to the gym with him or other public areas and if you wish to refuse entry for ANY reason, you should retain an attorney because the likelihood of a suit is high.If the dog does attack others, barks, or runs around scaring other members, then that would typically provide a basis to refuse this dog specifically. But I would not do so without consulting with a local attorney further and retaining them to represent the company.He cannot refuse entry by the member themselves because of the diabetes since that would likely trigger a lawsuit for disability discrimination under the ADA as well. He should have liability insurance if he is concerned about injuries to members in the gym.This is not an easy situation since the law does require that the gym accommodate the disabled member by permitting the dog to enter the premises. Only in the most unusual situations can the dog be refused entry if it is actually a service dog. This MAY be one of those situations if the dog is actually threatening to the other members. If they are hyper-sensitive to large dogs though and not reasonably threatened, the law would not normally permit the owner to refuse entry.
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