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Attorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 5536
Experience:  28 Years In General Practice,
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I have a registered service animal. Never had problems in

Customer Question

I have a registered service animal. Never had problems in North Georgia before today. Went to a doctor associated with the medical center in Gainesville, Ga. After talking with numerous people and waiting an hour the Doctor came out and called my name. When she saw my service animal she refused access to her office. Saying things like, "it is non negotiable and not even on the table. I asked if we could meet in another room and she said no. The office manager apologized and said she was afraid my dog would urinate in her office. My dog is 5 lbs and doesn't leave my lap, makes no noise and is only interested in me. She is well behaved and a pro at hospitals, doctors and dentist. What recourse do I have?
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Georgia
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: Only to the hospital admin. Verbally.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

Welcome to JA and thank you for your question. I will be the Attorney that will be assisting you. Did this occur in a State or private hospital?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Not for profit community hospital system.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Their customer relations person called us on our way home and promised a full investigation.
Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

Is this an emotional support dog?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
No, she is medical alert for my ADDISON'S DISEASE.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Which can be life threatening for me not to have her with me during a stressful appointment.
Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

Thank you for the clarification. That makes a difference. You may wish to file an ADA complaint as there are very specific rules with regard to hospitals. Service animals are allowed to go wherever you go. There are very limited exceptions and this is no one of them.

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

"U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section



1. Q: What are the laws that apply to my business?

A: 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.

2. Q: What is a service animal?

A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

_ Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.

_ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

_ Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

A service animal is not a pet.

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.

4. Q: What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my business?

A: The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

5. Q: I have always had a clearly posted "no pets" policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow service animals in?

A: Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your "no pets" policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your "no pets" policy altogether but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.

6. Q: My county health department has told me that only a guide dog has to be admitted. If I follow those regulations, am I violating the ADA?

A: Yes, if you refuse to admit any other type of service animal on the basis of local health department regulations or other state or local laws. The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and so it takes priority over the local or state laws or regulations.

7. Q: Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals into my business?

A: No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities if a service animal causes damage so long as it is the regular practice of the entity to charge non-disabled customers for the same types of damages. For example, a hotel can charge a guest with a disability for the cost of repairing or cleaning furniture damaged by a service animal if it is the hotel's policy to charge when non-disabled guests cause such damage.

8. Q: I operate a private taxicab and I don't want animals in my taxi; they smell, shed hair and sometimes have "accidents." Am I violating the ADA if I refuse to pick up someone with a service animal?

A: Yes. Taxicab companies may not refuse to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their service animals than they charge to other persons for the same or equivalent service.

9. Q: Am I responsible for the animal while the person with a disability is in my business?

A: No. The care or supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. You are not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.

10. Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?

A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. 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.

Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.

11. Q: Can I exclude an animal that doesn't really seem dangerous but is disruptive to my business?

A: There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate a service animal--that is, when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities. But when it does, for example, when a dog barks during a movie, the animal can be excluded.

If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, you may call the U.S. Department of Justice's toll-free ADA Information Line at(###) ###-####(voice) or(###) ###-####(TDD)."

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

You can file an ADA complaint using this form

Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter. If you would be kind enough to rate my service positively so I will receive credit for my work I would appreciate it. You do not need to provide a negative rating to receive a refund. Are you still with me?

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

Thank you for using JA! We appreciate your business. Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter. If you would be kind enough to rate my service positively so I will receive credit for my work I would appreciate it.

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 1 month ago.

Please ignore the additional services request. Do you have any additional questions for me?

Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter. It would be my pleasure to continue to assist you.

If you would be kind enough to rate my service positively so I will receive credit for my wok I would appreciate. The Attorneys only receive credit for their work and time if the customer rates them positively. Thank you for your consideration.