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Service dogs are dogs with specially and carefully selected characteristics and temperament to suit their job, helping people. These dogs may be trained by private trainers, dog training organizations or by the person who owns the dog, although training a dog yourself is incredibly difficult and often a long process.
 
The most frequently employed dog breeds are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Labrador/golden retriever crosses and German shepherds, known for their intelligence and bidability.
 
The purpose of these service dogs is to help and guide their human owners, whether they are with visual or hearing impairments, mobility impairments, or mental illnesses that make everyday life difficult. However, people need to live their lives normally and quite often, when traveling, it is necessary to stop at restaurants or stay at a hotel.

Are Service Dogs Allowed in Hotels?

In short, they are. Service dogs are not pets, so pet policies should not apply to them.
 
Service dogs are allowed to accompany their humans wherever they themselves are permitted to go, unless it is a sterile area such as a hospital surgery room. Hotels are not able to decline people with service dog’s entry to the hotel. Similarly, they must not isolate an owner and dog from other people, restrict certain rooms, or deny access to places other guests are permitted.
 
If your dog causes damage, you are obligated to pay for it, and your dog may be required to be under control at all times, with a leash, harness or tether, unless this hinders the service dog’s job.
 
Upon entering a hotel with your service dog, the staff are able to ask you two questions:

  • Is your dog is a service dog?
  • If so, what service does your dog provide?

These questions are unnecessary if the service dog’s task is obvious, for instance, a seeing-eye dog, or a dog for a person in a wheelchair. It is against the law for hotel staff to ask for a certificate or any other kind of proof about the service dog or your disability’s credibility. Not only because people don’t carry their certificate around everywhere, but because most disabilities are unnoticeable.
 
The staff and the general public are not permitted to pet the service dog, speak to the dog, interfere with its work, or feed the dog. The hotel is not obligated to look after the dog’s needs. The owner is responsible for feeding and exercising the dog.
 
Unfortunately, staff at various hotels may not be properly trained to deal with a situation in which a service dog enters the hotel. Therefore, in the case a staff member is asking too many questions or behaving inappropriately, do not hesitate to ask for a manager.

When can Service Animals be Turned Away from Hotels?

The only instance in which service dogs may be excluded from a hotel is if they bark, growl, bite a guest or staff member, or act aggressively. Most dogs turned away for these reasons are often not legitimate service dogs.
 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.