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Service Animal Information

Under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos, as well as hospitals and medical offices.

If you feel you have been discriminated against, you may file a Title III complaint with the US Department of Justice (US DOJ), at the address below. You should include the following information with your complaint:

  • Your full name, address, and telephone number, and the name of the party discriminated against;
  • The name of the business, organization, or institution that you believe has discriminated;
  • A description of the act or acts of discrimination, the date or dates of the discriminatory acts, and the name or names of the individuals who you believe discriminated; and
  • Other information that you believe necessary to support your complaint. Please send copies of relevant documents. Do not send original documents. (Retain them.)

Sign and send the letter to the address below:

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights - NYAVE
Washington, D.C. 20530

US Department of Justice ADA Business BRIEF: Service Animals
Available on the US DOJ website

Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.

  • Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person's disability.
  • People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons. However, if a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
  • A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly during a movie) or (2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
  • In these cases, the business should give the person with the disability the option to obtain goods and services without having the animal on the premises.
  • Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
  • A business is not required to provide care or food for a service animal or provide a special location for it to relieve itself.
  • Allergies and fear of animals are generally not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals.
  • Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.

If you have additional questions concerning the ADA and service animals, you may call the US Department of Justice's ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY) or visit the ADA Business Connection at: www.ada.gov

You may also wish to file a complaint under Miami-Dade County's civil and human rights ordinance. The Miami-Dade County Commission on Human Rights is a quasi-judicial as well as an advisory board charged with the enforcement of Miami-Dade County's civil and human rights ordinance, codified as Chapter 11A of the Miami-Dade County Code, as amended. The Commission's mission is to help improve the quality of life of all Miami-Dade County residents by combating discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and financing practices, family leave and domestic violence leave. This is accomplished by receiving, initiating, investigating, and conciliating complaints based on various protected classifications, including disability. If you believe you have been discriminated against, you may file a complaint with the Miami-Dade County Commission on Human Rights by phone, in person, or by writing to the following address:

Miami-Dade County Commission on Human Rights
111 NW 1st Street, 22nd Floor
Miami, FL 33128

Telephone 305-375-5272; Fax 305-372-6017

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:03:47 PM
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