Where are emotional support animals allowed?
FORT MYERS, Fla. Can a dog enter a grocery store?
Can it hang out on a golf course?
These are among the questions Michael Pierce receives on a weekly basis from business owners and apartment complex managers.
As the American with Disabilities Act advocate for Independent Living Gulfcoast, Pierce’s job is to interpret the law as it pertains to various situations.
“They are not protected under the same laws as a true working ADA service dog,” said Pierce, who is legally blind and utilizes Addy, his trained service dog.
Dogs like Addy, which receive extensive training, are protected under the act and can go anywhere with their owners.
And that training isn’t cheap. It cost Pierce about $50,000 and included “exams” of living with her for a week.
“I can’t tell you how many times she saved my life,” he said.
When it comes to emotional support animals, by law, restaurants and other businesses are not required to let them into their establishments. They can be removed if not under the control of their owner or exhibit aggressive behavior, Pierce said.
It is a misdemeanor in Florida to fraudulently claim your pet as a trained service animal.
More information about service animals can be found here.