ADA-Exempt Areas for Service Animals

ADA-Exempt Areas for Service Animals

We often hear stories on the news about a restaurant owner or a business owner that denies access or entry to a person with a service animal. We hear about these heartbreaking stories, and whether we choose to agree or disagree, the law prohibits any form of discrimination against people with service animals in public areas.

According to and the ADA, hearing and service dogs are permitted to accompany their disabled owner anywhere and everywhere in public in which the public is allowed. Of course, as the law details, there are a few exceptions to this rule. A disabled owner with a service dog is allowed in a restaurant, but not in the kitchen where food is prepared and cooked due to santiation reasons. In most cases, any place where a dog or animal in general may compromise the safety or sanitation of a situation (such as a hospital operating room or burn unit), the service animal may not be allowed.

It is the owner that has the access, not the service animal. The service animal simply accompanies its owner throughout general public areas. There are a few other areas, however, that may be exempt from the ADA compliant rules for service animals.

Churces, for example, do not have to allow service animals into the building. The only exception to this is if the church is open to the public for an event such as a fundraiser, art fair, or bazaar. Additionally, in some instances, a zoo can prohibit service animals in areas where people interact with other animals, such as a bird cage.

Service animals are also not permitted in emergency rooms of hospitals. They are, however, allowed  in waiting rooms, cafeterias, patient rooms, and other means of public access in a hospital.

According to the ADA, businesses may ask questions such as if the animal has been trained to perform certain tasks, but they cannot ask for a spcial identification for the animal or ask about the person’s disability. Any violators of the ADA can be required to pay money in damages and penatlies.

Service animals are trained to perform certain tasks for their disabled owner, usually depending on the disability. They guide the blind, alert people who are deaf or have trouble hearing, pull wheelchairs, allert others and protecting their owner in the event of a seizure, and performing a variety of other tasks for their owners. In summary, the service animals are working animals, not pets, and businesses and organizations open for public access must allow disabled owners access with a service animal, unless strictly detailed in the ADA.

About the Author: Eric is a guest contributor from Global Lift Corp., a supplier in ADA-compliant pool lifts. Visit them at