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Seeing eye dog 2Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), business that serve the public are prohibited from discriminating against an individual with a disability due to the use of a service animal.  The ADA allows a business owner to ask only two questions about a service animal: Is it a service animal?  What it is trained to do? Business owners cannot ask about the nature of an individual’s disability or ask the handler to demonstrate the animal is actually trained to do a task.

While individuals with disabilities cannot be discriminated against for the use of a service animal, a business owner can refuse to allow a service animal in the business if: 1) it is not house trained; or, 2) it is not under the control of its handler.  Service animals must be under the control of the handler at all times while in a business.  Often fake service animals can be identified by the behavior of the animal and its alleged handler.

In Florida, it is a second degree misdemeanor to discriminate against or refuse services to someone using a service animal. Discrimination against or failure to provide services to a person with a service animal is punishable by up to sixty days in jail, a five hundred dollar fine and thirty hours of community service with an organization that provides services to individuals with disabilities.

Many organizations have published helpful resources for individuals who utilize service animals or provide guidance to individuals needing advocacy for the use of their service animals.  The ADA National Network has a self-advocacy resource for individuals who use Service Animals and Emotional Support AnimalsDisability Rights Florida provides help to individuals with disabilities who are experiencing problems associated with their service animals.