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Are service dogs allowed in restaurants?

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September 02, 2017 1:28AM

Yes, fully trained service dogs are permitted to accompany their disabled handler in any part of a restaurant in which members of the public are permitted. This means they are permitted in dining rooms, rest rooms and lobbies of restaurants, but not in the food preparation areas such as kitchens.
Not all dogs are service animals, but for those that are, the Americans With Disabilities Act generally requires businesses, including food establishments, to modify policies to permit service animals (including guide dogs) to accompany their disabled handler wherever the general public are allowed. The general rule of thumb where food is involved is that where special clothing is not required a service animal must be permitted. Where special clothing is required, such as food preparation areas, a service animal may be excluded and in fact must be excluded if necessary to comply with health statutes or ordinances. Since a typical patron of a restaurant isn't asked to don a hairnet, latex gloves and an apron while in the dining area of the establishment, a service animal (including a guide dog) should be permitted to accompany a disabled handler there. Health regulations generally make it illegal to take pet dogs into a restaurant. Sidewalk or other outdoor seating areas are usually exempted from these regulations.

* Per the ADA, service animals must admitted to any public place. As long as a restaurant is not located within a private club, they must allow a service animal. This SA is not allowed in the kitchen and can't be segregated from the rest of the patrons unless the SA handler wants it that way. It is considered bad SA etiquette and may get you kicked out of the restaurant for letting your SA on the table or putting your plate on the floor for them to lick. If the animal is thirsty, the bathroom may be the proper place for watering. * A mall food court somehow feels different and some SA handlers don't mind watering their animal there. Also, not everyone is there to eat-maybe just to take a load off.

* It is a violation of most state's health code to allow pets in a place that serves food. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, they may allow your pet there. There are food places in large cities that cater to pet owners. * A service animal is not a pet when they are on duty. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, all food establishments within the United States must permit a person with a disability to use the dining room of a restaurant while accompanied by their trained service animal.

Some states give their citizens greater rights than what the ADA has to offer, but by law, no citizen of any state can have fewer rights than those guaranteed by the ADA.

Service animals are generally not permitted in areas where food is prepared (such as in a commercial kitchen) but they must be permitted in all areas where the public are permitted to enter without special clothing (such as hair nets and latex gloves), including the dining area of restaurants, in other businesses that serve food such as movie theaters, and in stores that sell food.

However: if the animal behaves inappropriately by vocalizing or making unwanted contact with other patrons, behaves in a threatening manner, is not properly house trained or otherwise poses a direct threat to the safety of others or a fundamental alteration of the goods or services offered, then he can be excluded.

For more information on the ADA, contact the U.S. Department of Justice's ADA Information Line at:

800 - 514 - 0301 (voice)

800 - 514 - 0383 (TTY) Similar rules are in force in most of Europe