Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making Cents: Service Dog Access In Business

  Goodee the Service Dog why are you still hard at work on a bog?”
     “Well mom this is an important topic: what good is a Service Dog if people don’t let you use them?”
     “Right Goodee I wish I had thought of that. It’s important for everyone understand Service Dog access.”
     “The most important thing for people to understand mom is that Service Dogs are not just dogs.”
     “You are right Goodee. Let’s share an example:    
     If someone comes in a place of business and says they have a Service Dog then that dog is given a special status it is not a “pet.” The Service Dog must be allowed access to all areas you would allow members of the public to go.
     Team Goodee had a horrible experience when a hotel staff member kept telling us “Pets are not allowed.” We gestured to patches and explained that a Service Dog handler cannot be separated from their dog, the employee continued to insist: “but the dog is still a pet.”--- WRONG! “the dog” is a MEDICAL DEVICE and is NEVER a PET.  A dog identified as a Service Dog is specifically trained to assist the handler with a disability.   
     “Mom how do people know a Service Dog when they see one?”
     “Good question Goodee!  Actually Service Dogs look just like any other dog.
There are people who fake Service Dogs and there are people who just want to bring their pets into a place of business. Most Service Dog handlers have signs or patches indicating the dog is a working service animal but, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) does not require signs or certificates
 A business owner inquiry is limited to:
1.     If the dog is a Service Dog
2.     What tasks the Service Dog does for the handler
3.     Is the handler disabled?
Please note: no one is allowed to ask the exact disability of the handler.
A Service Dog handler is just like any other customer. They want to have their concerns addressed, make their purchase, or run their errand and be done with their day. 
The Service Dog serves only one purpose: to assist the Service Dog handler and therefore only the handler can say when a Service Dog is “working.”
     “Examples would be good here mom.”
     “Right Goodee can you think of any?”
     “Well mom there’s lots of times someone pets me without asking when I am standing with you or laying by you.”
     “Right Goodee that is a good example, I’ve been told Goodee the Service Dog was “just standing there” or “just laying there.”
     “Actually mom I was providing balance and many times you fall to the floor when someone just reaches over and pets me without asking.”
     “ Goodee, Can you think of other things that hurt or delay us when we are out and about?”
     “Well mom sometimes people insist upon “helping” us when they don’t have a clue what they are doing. It delays us at best and can harm us physically.”
     “Yes Goodee, I have an example for this one.”
We went inside a bank lobby and we were scoping  an area out for the human to sit down. A manager looking type came over and starting doing a little dance in front of Service Dog Goodee. She immediately tried to get Goodee to follow her. —(I guess she thought we needed to get to a teller.) She then began laughing and telling employees that she was a dog “whisperer.” I never did get her to understand I just needed her to get the ____ out of the way so that I could tie my shoelace. This is an example of both someone who thinks they are helping but is not and someone who is determined to make “the dog” a personal sideshow -- In fact, all the “helper” did is create an obstacle. — The Service Dog is a tool not a toy!


1.                       Remember the human hander is a normal customer do not talk to the dog or anyone with the handler.—Talk directly to the handler and ignore the dog.—any other behavior is rude.
2.                       Don’t chatter or insist upon helping the dog or handler—give them space if they need help they will ask.
3.                       Do not feed the dog. —Team Goodee actually had an employee put seafood down on the floor and call the “doggie.”
4.                       Your customers will follow your lead. —Please instruct your employees to not touch, talk, stalk, or otherwise mess with the Service dog.
Like other consumers Service Dog handlers evaluate where they spend money. Team Goodee has several favorite places where we go in and get served quickly with “no circus.” We have sent compliment letters to corporate headquarters and visit   the same places week after week. –-- On the other side of the coin, there is a discount chain that we have not gone in for a solid year because even after several complaints their employees continue to interfere with us. When we have to eat, shop for our business or home, the question is always the same: “Where can I go today and get the service I need?” Many times Team Goodee stays away from sales because either the dog or the human just can’t cope with the circus. In addition to the economic impact many states have fines and jail time for interfering with a Service Dog.
There’s no reason to be in the dark about Service Dog access Sue Kindred of Service Dog 411( has educational material and consulting services available. The U.S. Department of Justice has business resources (see links below).

 In closing we would like to thank the many business establishments across the country that provide Service Dog friendly customer service. Thank you to people who take time to address Service Dog access concerns. Thank you to friends and family who accompany Service Dog Teams and put up with the “circus” as people pet, prod, talk to, and tickle the dog.

Team Goodee welcomes your feedback by email, many times when you see us out and about we have to say: “Not Now We Are Working.”


Educational Links
ADA Business BRIEF: Service Animals