General Information about Service Animals
Courtesy Xochitl Mora,
Laredo, TX – The City of Laredo Health Department would like to inform the public and all local business owners that service animals are not pets and by Federal law must be allowed into any business establishment (restaurants, hotels, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, and theaters, etc.). According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow persons with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go and not be treated differently. This statue supersedes all state and local safety and health ordinances and laws as it pertains to pets/animals. Failure to adhere to the ADA will incur damages and penalties.
All businesses should be aware of the following important information:
- Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability.
- People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons.
- A person with a disability can take their service animal into any commercial and food establishment and cannot be asked to remove his/her service animal from the premises unless:
- The animal is out of control and the animal’s owner does not take effective action to control it.
- The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
For more information about the American Disabilities Act (ADA) business owners and anyone else seeking information may visit www.ada.gov. Additionally, for any questions concerning the ADA and service animals, people may call U.S. Department of Justice’s ADA information line at (800) 514-0301.
Currently the City of Laredo Health Department staff during its inspections of commercial establishments and restaurants is providing owners with information on the ADA and Service Animals. We would also like to encourage all business owners to review the ADA and be compliant with it.