ADA: Am I allowed to ask a customer if a dog is a “service dog”?

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If you are working at a business or state/local government facility and it is unclear to you whether someone’s dog is a service dog, you may ask for certain information using two questions.


You may ask:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?


You are not allowed to:

  • Request any documentation that the dog is registered, licensed, or certified as a service animal
  • Require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability


Because service animals are not required to wear vests, a dog that is wearing a vest is not necessarily a service animal. The dog still needs to be trained to perform a task for a person with a disability to be a service animal.


In most settings, a service animal will not fundamentally alter the situation. But in some settings, a service dog could change the nature of the service or program. For example, it may be appropriate to keep a service animal out of an operating room or burn unit where the animal’s presence could compromise a sterile environment. But in general, service animals cannot be restricted from other areas of the hospital where patients or members of the public can go.

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