One restaurant has recently posted a sign banning all emotional support pets, and it gathered varying reactions from internet users. While many understand where the restaurant is coming from, others have strong opinion saying the restaurant crossed the line.
There has been a lot of confusion between emotional support animals (ESA) and service animals, and now is the perfect time to finally clear things up. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability."
ADA continues to define service animals (and I want you to take note of this): "Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals."
Service animals should be allowed in public places, including in restaurant and stores.
On the other hand, emotional support animals provide emotional comfort to their owners. To promote a pet as an ESA, there must be a prescription from a licensed mental health professional like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist.
Promoting a pet to an ESA status is pretty easy, and so many abuses it. This is probably why there is an exploding number of fake emotional support pets because of the perks. For one, ESAs can board in the cabin of an aircraft for free and live in non-pet-friendly housing.
Some people get offended if they are asked if their pets are a service animal. The restaurant knows this may happen, so before anyone gets offended, they were wise enough to make a valid point in their notice:
"According to law we may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Expect us to ask."
Now, if you have problems with that, you might want to call a lawyer. (Tip: Don't).
The notice ended in a short yet powerful message: "In short please don't abuse a law in place to help people with disabilities."
So, whose side are you on?