SERVICE ANIMALS ARE NOT PETS
We get a lot of requests to make reasonable accommodations for Service, Assistance & Emotional Support Dogs. Service animals are not pets; they are trained to work & provide assistance to their handlers. We are always willing to work with guests & make accommodations for TRUE Service Dogs & Assistance Animals in all of our vacation rental properties, in accordance with the HUD, ADA & FHA rules & regulations, in which we are very well versed. However, as much as we respect service animals & what they do, and as much as we want everyone to be comfortable on vacation, as a licensed Real Estate company in North Carolina, we have a duty, not only to our guests and their families, but also to our homeowners to protect their properties. The laws governing Service Dogs & Assistance Animals are much more in depth than one may think from a cursory search on the internet. There is a lot of false information out there.
PETS ARE NOT SERVICE ANIMALS
Unfortunately, we get a LOT of people that claim that their pet is a Service, Assistance or Emotional Support Animal. We know that there are a LOT of websites & organizations that will help people try to portray their pet as a Service Dog or Assistance Animal, without meeting any legal requirements; through online or mail-in “certifications”. Please know that currently there is not any type of legally recognized organization for registering Service Dogs or Assistance Animals. These websites are simply making money off people that do not know any better.
In reality, people who falsely claim a pet is a Service Dog or Assistance Animal can face extreme punishments, including hefty fines and even imprisonment. Know that out of our love and respect for Service Dogs & Assistance Animals, we have a zero-tolerance policy on misrepresentation & we report all suspected offenders while pushing for full prosecution. We know that some people have been misinformed or misled by some websites and organizations that try to sell a “Service Dog” certification to owners for pets that really are not qualified or needed. If you are one of these people, we caution you.
ABOUT SERVICE DOGS
The ADA regulations provide that the work or tasks performed by the service dog must be directly related to the person’s disability and specifically mention the following examples:
- assisting persons who are blind or have low vision to navigate or other tasks,
- alerting persons who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds,
- assisting an individual having a seizure,
- pulling a wheelchair,
- alerting a person to the presence of allergens,
- retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone,
- providing physical support and assistance with balance or stability to a mobilityimpaired person,
- preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors in persons with psychiatric or neurological disabilities.
BRINGING A SERVICE DOG OR ASSISTANCE ANIMAL
When planning to bring a service dog or assistance animal to an allowed vacation rental home:
- All service dogs & assistance animals must be declared at the time of booking whenever possible and prior to the check-in date in all instances.
- Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- For Service Dogs:
- Do you or a person in your party need this animal to accompany him/her due to a disability?
- What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform that relate to the disability?
- For Assistance Animals:
- Does the person seeking to bring the animal have a disability, i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?
- Does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of the person with the disability or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of the person’s disability?
- We will require documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, or mental health professional stating that the animal provides support that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of an existing disability. Such documentation is sufficient if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal in question will provide disability related assistance.
- We will not require a pet fee, or a security deposit for a service, assistance, or emotional support dog, however the guest is responsible for any and all damages caused by the service assistance or emotional support dog, and the credit card we have on file will need to remain valid, until the home is inspected after guests’ departure.
- Guests will need to sign our Service, Assistance or Emotional Support Dog Agreement.