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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Woof! Dealing With Animals in Your Waiting Room or Exam Room


What Are the Rules?

There's a dog in your waiting room.
It's not a noble-looking German shepherd wearing a harness, or a soulful retriever wearing a service-dog vest. The dog's handler has no visible disability. He's just a guy—a patient, or perhaps a family member—with a dog on a leash. What do you do?
That scenario is becoming increasingly familiar in medical offices, and businesses of all types, as service, therapy, and emotional support animals (ESAs)—dogs, mostly—become increasingly common.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as any dog (and, rarely, even a miniature horse!) that's trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.[1] State statutes vary and may expand upon—but not diminish—the level of access allowed under federal law.
By contrast, ESAs, also referred to as "assistance" or "comfort" animals, can be virtually any type of critter and don't have to have any special training. (Earlier this year, an emotional support turkey ruffled a few feathers on a Delta flight.) Certain federal laws allow ESAs to enjoy greater access than the family pet: They're covered under the Fair Housing Act and under the federal Air Carrier Access Act, which allows them to travel on airplanes.
However, the ADA doesn't entitle ESAs to access public accommodations, such as businesses, because these dogs have not been individually trained to perform a specific task related to an individual's disability.....
 Expect Some Occasional Pushback

Will these suggestions prevent pet-loving scofflaws from abusing the system and bringing Fido or Max into the office? Probably not.
"Those are the ones who are going to fight you the most," Stanley says. "The people who are the most strident about their animals are often the ones whose dogs weren't trained to do anything but to be there for them."


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