There are going to be times when you get asked questions about your Service Dog in the future. A lot of people dislike these situations and don’t necessarily know what to do. You could be out doing errands and the shop manager approaches you and your Service Dog. This would make anyone nervous, but there is no need to panic. If Service Dogs are allowed public access under your state’s law, you are just fine, and nobody can deny you access.
However, you may come across business owners or workers who are uneducated about the laws connected with Service Dogs, so you should be prepared to advocate for yourself and your canine.
What Two Questions can be Asked by a Business?
There are only 2 questions that a business can legally ask you about your Service Dog. These questions are:
• Is the animal a Service Dog required for a disability?
• What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
You, as the owner, do not need to go into any detail about your disability. They cannot make you answer any questions on what disability you have or what happens to you. They are also not allowed to request any documentation for your dog or ask your dog to demonstrate any trained work or tasks.
How Do I Answer Questions that Should Not Be Asked About My Service Dog?
An example question that should not be asked is “What is wrong with you?”. You are in no way obligated to answer this question; therefore, it could be a good idea to have an answer prepared. You could answer it sarcastically and say you have an extra limb or something silly, or you could prepare to answer more formally.
You could try saying something like “Please do not ask me about my disability or try to guess what it is. My disabilities may not be visible, but that doesn’t mean you should ask. It can be hurtful and invasive when asking about such personal information.”
What to Say When You Don’t Want to Answer Questions About Your Service Dog
Maybe you just want to make a quick visit to the shop without any interruptions. You want to be as quick as possible. Here is an example as to what you could say:
“I can see you are interested and want to know more about my Service Dog’s jobs, but right now I am just looking to make a quick errand to the store and back home again. Nearly every person that sees me and my Service Dog wants to know more about what his tasks are, his breed, age, name, everything. Please don’t be offended if I answer your questions quickly and move on. I hope you understand.”
‘Why is your Service Dog not wearing a vest?’
If your Service Dog doesn’t wear a vest, it is probably because you don’t want everyone on the street to know you have a disability of some sort. That is 100% okay. Your dog does not need to wear a vest. Some people aren't aware of this. Therefore, you should probably have an answer prepared for this. You should just kindly explain you would rather keep your disability discreet and would rather you be not flooded with questions. You want to blend in with the rest of the public.
Read more at Should Your Service Dog Put On a Service Dog Vest?
What to Say When A Business Owner Denies You Access to an Area You Allowed in.
This is not a nice situation to be in and can be very nerve-wracking. It could potentially cause so much distress for someone that it could trigger their disability, such as a panic disorder. Legally, the business owner cannot deny you access unless the area is a place like a zoo, a public swimming pool, a tattoo parlor, a laboratory, etc.
“My Service Dog and I have access to places of public accommodation under federal law. My dog does not alter the way this business operates. The only reason my Service Dog and I should be denied access is if the dog is not house trained or it is acting out of control. Neither of these problems is an issue. Therefore, I should be allowed to enter.”
Find out more at Can Service Animals Be Denied Access?
Things to Keep in Mind:
• Always speak kind and respectfully when answering questions or speaking to people about your Service Dog. If you speak rudely, you will most likely get the same attitude in return, which is never good.
• Your Service Dog should be an appropriate representative of the Service Dog community, appearing well-groomed and tidy, always remaining well-behaved. Your Service Dog should be well house trained and never defecate or urinate in public inappropriately. It should always remain calm and always listen to commands from its owner, no matter the situation.