Service Animals in Hotels: Charges and Other Considerations

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When staying in a hotel room with a rate based on single occupancy, it is likely for you to be charged extra for sharing the room with someone else.

If you have a service animal with you and this is your first time thinking about booking a hotel room, you may hesitate. You may be wondering if you will have to pay more than the sticker price for taking your service animal with you to the hotel.

So, do hotels charge for service animals? 

In most countries, hotels do not charge for service animals. On the other hand, guests may be charged for bringing pets, except for those staying in pet-friendly hotels. However, hotels may charge guests for the repair or cleaning of amenities damaged by their service animals.

Taking a service animal to a hotel should not be a problem for a disabled person’s pocket.

That’s because he or she cannot be charged by the hotel. This is what the law says.

However, confusion may arise if the animal that the person has is not a service animal. In some cases, it is simply an emotional support animal or a pet.

Worry not as we will talk about some important things about this matter below.

Knowing the Differences Between Service Animals and Pets

Just because an animal makes a person feel happy or safe doesn’t make it a service animal.

There are a few things that separate a service animal from a pet. Also, a service animal is different from an emotional support animal. Keep on reading to have a better idea of which is which.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a couple of questions may be asked to know whether or not an animal is a service animal:

  1. Is the animal needed because of a disability?
  2. What work or task the animal has been trained to do?

The animal is a service animal if the answer to the first question is yes, and the answer to the second question is clearly for the benefit of the disabled person. Most of the time, a service animal is a dog.

These days, however, there are also other service animals. Some common examples are miniature horses, monkeys, and pigs.

If the animal is not necessary because the person who owns it does not need it to help with everyday work or task as he or she is not disabled, then it is a pet and not a service animal.

The Truth About Emotional Support Animals

Perhaps you have already heard or come across people with emotional support animals. Basically, emotional support animals are animals that help make their owners feel safe, comfortable, or happy.

However, according to the ADA guidelines, emotional support animals are not service animals.

Even though a person has a note from a doctor saying that the animal is needed for emotional support, sadly, the animal cannot be regarded as a service animal.

But, as always, there are exceptions to the rule. The ADA itself admits that some state or local laws may have a broader definition of service animals.

This means that, in some areas, emotional support animals may also be considered as service animals. To be sure, check with your county or city clerk’s office.

If you have an emotional support animal with you, the hotel may turn down the animal.

This is especially true if the establishment is not pet-friendly. It is a different story, however, if what you have is a service animal. The hotel has no choice but to accept you and your service animal as they would customers without disabilities.

However, do take note that an establishment may sometimes ask service animals to be removed from the premises. So please don’t stop reading now to know some of the reasons for it.

Such Matter is More Complicated Than It Seems

There are a couple of things that make it hard for hotels to figure out whether they should charge a guest for having an animal.

Failure to charge the guest when needed, could lead to losses. On the other hand, charging the guest when they shouldn’t lead to lawsuits.

Here’s the problem: more and more people these days are jumping on the bandwagon. On the internet, some websites allow pet owners to get their hands on certificates, vests, and leashes that label their pets as service animals.

Various reasons exist why pet owners are willing to pay to make it seem like their pets are service animals.

One of them is being able to take their pets with them wherever they go. Another is to avoid paying extra for bringing their pets to hotels.

If you find it tempting to follow suit, don’t. In many states, the improper use of service animal certificates, vests, and leashes could get pet owners into some legal trouble.

Hotels, too, may get into some legal trouble if they refuse to accept guests with service animals. The same is true if they charge disabled people extra for having service animals.

Because of this, hotels have to take the necessary steps each time someone with a service animal steps foot inside to get a room.

The Hotel May Still Charge Extra in Some Situations

It’s true that it is illegal for hotels to charge for service animals. However, it doesn’t mean that guests with service animals are not subject to additional fees.

In some instances, a hotel may charge a disabled person extra for having a service animal and still not break any law.

A service animal may pee or poop on the carpet, sofa, or bed. The professional cleaning resulting from such usually comes with a steep price tag.

If the cost is too high, the hotel may have no choice but to charge the cleaning (or sometimes repair or replacement) fee to the service animal’s owner.

If the service animal doesn’t stop barking in the middle of the night, it can leave the other guests complaining to the front desk. This may force the hotel to show the door to the service animal and its owner.

This is exactly why any disabled person needs to have control over his or her service animal.

If the service animal is displaying bad behavior as well as putting the safety of others in the establishment at risk, it can be asked to be removed from the facility.

Make sure that your service animal is trained before you take it with you to a hotel. It doesn’t matter if it is trained by a professional or by you. Otherwise, you may pay more than the advertised rate of the hotel room.

Just Before You Take an Animal With You

Hotels should not charge for service animals. If a hotel tells you that you will be charged extra or refuses to accept you for having a service animal, you may get in touch with the authorities.

However, if what you have is a pet or an emotional support animal and not a service animal, the hotel has every right to charge you for it or not accept you in the first place.

The best thing to do in this case is to go to a pet-friendly hotel.

Related Questions

Should I present service animal papers in a hotel? 

The law does not require hotels or other establishments to ask a disabled person to show service animal papers. This is especially true if it is clear that the one with the individual is a service animal. Usually, such as evidenced by the presence of a service dog vest and harness.

Can I bring an emotional support animal to a vacation rental? 

Just like hotels, vacation rentals may not allow pets and emotional support animals. However, pet owners may ask vacation rental owners if they could bring their pets with them. Through this, the necessary arrangement may be carried out.

Photo credit: ©canva.com/passion4nature

Reed Harris

Reed is a traveler and blogger. He's planning to visit all states in the USA. He's been in 31 states so far.

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