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Service Dogs?

Question Corner: April 2019

by Tim Athan

From the April, 2019 issue

Q: Are dogs allowed in restaurants, grocery stores, waiting rooms, etc.? Or are they supposed to be only support animals such as seeing-eye dogs? Are service dogs supposed to be identified in some way?

A."The Michigan food code (adopted from federal regulations) prohibits dogs not considered service animals," emails Washtenaw County Health Department spokesperson Susan Ringler Cerniglia.

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities." Animals providing emotional support are not included in this definition.

Generally, service animals must be allowed anywhere the public is allowed. No specific identification is required, but restaurant staff may ask if the animal is required because of a disability. They may not ask about the individual's disability or request that the animal demonstrate any tasks.

Cerniglia emails that restaurant owners may apply for a variance to allow dogs on patios or other outdoor areas, but "there are less than five local restaurants with a variance in place." Also, the Ann Arbor municipal code specifies: "Dogs should not be left tied outside stores and restaurants while the owners are inside."

Unless a restaurant has a variance in place, Cerniglia writes, the health department "recommends residents leave their pups at home when dining out."     (end of article)

[Originally published in April, 2019.]


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