Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Service Dogs at Buffets

There was a rather intense discussion in a Facebook group the other day about whether or not you can take your service dog up to the buffet or salad bar in a restaurant or whether the manager can ask you to leave your dog at the table while you go up to the buffet alone.

Someone tried to say that health regulations forbid taking a service dog up to the buffet because hair, saliva and/or fecal matter might get in the food.  This person was concerned that a service dog might fart while at the buffet, sending fecal matter into the air where it could get into the food.  Yes, seriously.  Service dogs should not be near a buffet because they might fart.

Apparently people farting near the buffet is not a concern because they wear pants.  Your pants will prevent fecal matter from getting into the food in the event that you fart near a buffet.

No,  I'm not kidding.  This was the discussion.

This person tried to say there was a lawsuit initiated by a woman who was not allowed to take her service dog up to the buffet because she was not blind and did not use a wheelchair, and that the judge ruled that she did not need her service dog at the buffet and should have left the dog at the table and/or had someone else hold the dog's leash while she got her food.  According to this person, the law says that if you are blind or use a wheelchair, then it is OK to take your service dog up to the buffet. 

Apparently service dogs for the blind and for wheelchair users do not fart, so they won't get fecal matter in the food.  I am not sure how that works.  I'd like a dog that never farts.

I asked several times for information about this court case but it was never provided.

I was about 99.9% certain this person was wrong, that any one with a service dog is allowed to take their dog up to a buffet.  Anyway, restaurant employees are not allowed to ask what your disability is, so how could they really know if you are blind?  And if you leave your dog unattended at your table while you go to the buffet, then you are violating local leash laws and doing something potentially unsafe.  And just who is supposed to hold the dog's leash for you?  The ADA specifically says employees of a business are not required to do that.

But I called the ADA information line so I could prove I was right.

And I am.  The ADA specialist to whom I spoke said you can take your service dog up to the buffet, even if you are not blind and do not use a wheelchair.  She said you should not leave your dog unattended at your table.

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