Improper Service Dog Behavior

We’ve all seen it. Whether it’s at the store, the library, or any of a number of other public places, there it is. A dog
wearing a cape, but also straining at the leash, four feet away from the handler. Maybe he or she is
sniffing around, at the ground or other people passing by. Maybe barking or howling. Maybe even
acting out in an aggressive manner toward people or other dogs.

Most businesses and most of the general public think there is nothing that can be done when a service
dog is not behaving properly. People rant about “fake service dogs” and call for stricter laws, when in
fact, sufficient regulation is already in place.

The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that a service dog CAN be asked to leave if it is causing
problems. The law states, “A public accommodation may ask an individual with a disability to remove
a service animal from the premises if (i) the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not
take effective action to control it…”1 Of further help is the presence of the term “individual with a
disability” and the definition thereof. A person must fit the definition of having a disability2
in order tohave the right to bring a service dog into a public place that does not normally allow dogs. The
definition is quite long, so I won’t put it in this blog post, but I will soon.

A more accessible source of information is a publication from the Department of Justice addressing
FAQs regarding service dogs. Question 25 asks “When can service animals be excluded?” The answer
contains the same information – if a dog is out of control, and the handler can’t control it, then it may
be excluded. Question 28 also addresses this issue, and the above answer is reiterated.3

So, you see, there are protections in place for the general public against service dogs who are not
behaving as a service dog should.

1
28 CFR 36.302(c)(2)(i)
2
28 CFR 36.104
3 Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA, U.S. Department of Justice, 2015