• Dr. Rhesa Houston

Distinguishing a service animal from a pet

Stamford restaurant owners cite difficulty distinguishing service animals from pets



The Stamford Advocate, a local newspaper in Stamford, Connecticut recently published an article titled “Stamford restaurant owners cite difficulty distinguishing service animals from pets”. This article discusses how a business owner duo were happy to be recently penalized by the Health Department because an inspector spotted a customer with a dog dining at their restaurant.


This article further discusses the difficulties they are experiencing as business owners with the increase in customers bringing dogs to their restaurants and the challenge in distinguishing a service dog from a pet.


Important points in this article:

  • The perceived inability of business owners to challenge customers who visit their restaurants with a pet and not a service dog

  • The ease of purchasing “service dog registration/certificatification” documentation from the internet which increases fraudulent behaviors

  • Lack of education of for pet owners knowing the difference between a pet versus an emotional support dog versus a service dogs

  • Lack of education of pet owners of current law for service dogs

  • Lack of education for business owners and associates regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to service dogs

  • Lack of awareness from the public at large as well as business owners of current law as it relates to persons with disabilities using service dogs

  • The difficulties with holding pet owners accountable to federal law and state statutes as it relates to service dogs

  • Connecticut does not require proof that a dog is a service animal and does not keep a service dog registry

  • Connecticut state law requires service dogs to wear a harness or an orange collar and leash

At Assistance Animals Consulting, we are veterinarians, recognized experts uniquely qualified to serve the community by providing resources for education, behavioral understanding, and guidance regarding working animals such as service dogs.

  1. We provide education on all of the different types of assistance animals and their perspective rights of access

  2. We provide education to pet owners and the public at large to help reduce service dog fraud

  3. We provide education to business organizations and associates to help them become compliant to the regulations of the ADA as it relates to service animals

  4. We provide education to the public at large to bring awareness to the ADA as it relates to service animals

  5. We have a workforce development program specific to service dogs supporting customers with disabilities to help reduce unintentional discrimination

The veterinarians at Assistance Animals Consulting are here to advocate for and serve clients with disabilities as well as educate and inform businesses about the rights and responsibilities of each.


Assistance Animals Consulting, we collaborate, evaluate, educate and advocate for successful human animal interactions. Have you seen a news article you would like Assistance Animals Consulting to discuss on #TheySaidThursday? If yes, leave it in the comment section!


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