Can a Hotel Charge for a Service Dog?

It is against the Americans with Disabilities Act for hotels to charge a pet fee for service dogs.

They must treat the customer and their service animals as any other guest and make reasonable modifications to their policies if necessary.

To those unfamiliar with the ADA, it can be confusing what service animal rules fall under government protection. So, below I will explain your rights when bringing a service dog to a hotel. 

Can Hotels Charge for Service Animals?

Many hotels have a no-pets policy that may seem at odds with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If they do allow pets, they might restrict them to certain areas in the hotel along with other pet-specific rules.

However, when a guest with a service dog wants to stay at a hotel, staff can not place any extra restrictions on the guest or dog, or they can get in trouble with federal and local government agencies. 

Thus, the guest and service dog do not have to stay in the designated pet-friendly zones of the hotel according to service canine accommodations written out by the ADA. Additionally, the hotel can not add any cleaning fee for dog hair. 

They also can not prohibit specific breeds. 

But, since regular rules still apply, the guest will have to pay the same fee as any other customer for damage done to the hotel by the guest’s service animal. 

The only caveat for bringing service animals to a hotel is that you have to have the service dog accompanied by someone at all times. Thus, you can not leave your service animal alone at any point during your stay. 

Yet, you don’t have to put the dog on a leash as long as you control them in some way. If the dog is being unruly and the owner does not attempt to control it, the staff may ask for you to remove the dog from the premises.

In addition, just as everywhere else, hotel staff cannot interact with or distract the service animal because they are not the same as the average furry friend. 

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Can Hotels Assign Designated Rooms for Support Dogs?

No, a hotel or other public accommodation can not force an individual with a disability to take a certain guest room. All businesses and state and local governments can not treat a person with a disability differently than anyone else. 

Can a Hotel Ask for Service Animal Certification?

Since the ADA does not require service dogs to wear identifying vests, it can be difficult to recognize service dogs. In these circumstances, they may ask you to prove the animal is a service dog. 

But, if any hotel staff members do ask for service animal papers or a county dog tag identifying anything about the animal, they have not received proper training for two reasons. 

Firstly, the ADA does not require documentation proving service dog status. The ADA and Department of Justice do not recognize any papers that claim to certify a service dog.

Thus, staff can not ask you to provide any forms or complete registration documents online. 

Secondly, staff can only ask two questions to a guest with a service animal. They may ask if it is a service animal required for a disability and what task you have trained the dog to do.

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How Do Hotels Verify Service Animals?

If they can’t ask for a dog’s certification, then how do they verify the authenticity of a service dog? In short, they don’t.

They can make assumptions based on how well trained the dog is and the questions in the previous section. If you answer the questions satisfactorily and they can see that someone has trained the dog, they must assume that it is an actual service dog.

However, if the dog is not acting like a service dog, they may remind the guest of any pet policies. For example, if the dog is pulling at the leash or bothering other guests, it likely is not a service dog.

Hotels can also refuse service if the dog poses a direct threat to others. 

But, finally, remember that a hotel can not refuse service to a disabled person just because their service dog is a breed prohibited by local laws. 

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What About Emotional Support Dogs?

Emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Even though the Fair Housing Act requires landlords to give reasonable accommodations to psychiatric service animals, hotels do not. 

Therefore, the law considers an ESA a non-service pet, so they must adhere to the hotel’s pet policies. 

But, you can always ask your hotel beforehand if you can bring your emotional support dog. Just make sure you have your papers from a licensed mental health professional stating the dog’s role.

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