Coco Chanel: Service Animals & Discrimination

Coco Chanel: Service Animals & Discrimination

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FullSizeRenderThe laws regarding service dogs are federally enforced by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Justice (American Disabilities Act – Civil Rights division). Michigan also has specific laws regarding service dogs and their uses. As a disabilities attorney and owner of Coco Chanel, a ten year old Yorkshire terrier service dog, I know first-hand the trouble that can be caused when business owners, landlords, and public transportation providers are unfamiliar with these laws.

Public transportation (boats, trains, buses) restaurants, hotels, motels, housing complexes are all required by federal laws to allow service animals to accompany their handlers in their dwellings, while they are traveling, and while dining. Under federal laws, there are only two situations in which an entity or accommodation can refuse to admit a service dog and they are when the service animal is not housebroken, and when the “animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it.” Airplanes have further exemptions, such as when the animal would not be permitted by law to enter a foreign country when that is the destination of the flight.

Under Michigan law, service dogs must wear a blaze orange collar and leash, service dog backpack, or hearing dog cape, and their handlers must carry a picture identification card that certifies the animal was trained by a qualified trainer or training organization. It is misdemeanor in Michigan for a “owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent, or employee of any place of public or private housing, accommodation, amusement, or recreation, including but not limited to any inn, hotel, motel, apartment building, trailer park, restaurant, barbershop, billiard parlor, store, public conveyance on land or water, theater, motion picture house, public or private educational institution, or elevator, to refuse a person with disabilities entrance when they are accompanied by a service animal that is wearing the proper collar, cape or backpack.

This law also applies to dogs that are in training under a certified trainer or organization.




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