Monday, January 19, 2015

Service Dogs in Tattoo Shops

There was recently a discussion on Facebook about whether or not service dogs are allowed in tattoo shops.  Apparently some people with service dogs have been told by shop owners that service dogs weren't allowed because it was a health hazard, because dander from the dogs could get under someone's skin and cause an infection or serious allergic reaction.  Other people had been taken their service dogs into tattoo shops with  no problems, however.

What was a bit odd to me was that some of the people that had been told they could not take their service dogs into tattoo shops accepted this and thought it was reasonable.  They said things like, "You can't take your service dog into the operating room when you have surgery.  A tattoo shop is the same way.  They keep it really clean and use sterile  needles and stuff."

Well, most tattoo shops are not like operating rooms.  Most people do not get tattoos in operating rooms.  If you do get a tattoo done in an operating room, you probably won't be able to have your service dog with you.  But I've never heard of a tattoo shop with its own operating room.

Tattoo shops probably are really clean.  So are dentists' offices and doctors' offices and many other places where service dogs are allowed.  Being really clean does not make a place an operating room and does not mean service dogs are not allowed.

Hopefully tattoo shops do use sterile needles.  The pharmacist at Rite Aid who gave me my flu shot used a sterile needle, too, but I didn't get my flu shot in an operating room.  Service dogs are allowed in Rite Aid and other pharmacies, of course.

For a definitive answer, I called the ADA Information Line and was told that a tattoo shop is not considered a sterile area and that service dogs are allowed in tattoo shops under the federal law.  


  1. Thank you- I just got turned away from a tattoo parlor with my service dog. I was told the same thing- "It's a sterile environment." I actually thought really? I just had a well-woman check up which included a biopsy of my uterus and my service dog was right there with me… and you're going to tell me this place is cleaner than my doctor's office? I will be pursuing action with this particular place, if only to educate them. I certainly won't be getting a tattoo from them though… ignorance is so annoying!

    1. I'm sorry you had that experience! You might want to suggest the owner of the shop call the ADA Info Line at (800) 514-0301. A representative of the Department of Justice will tell him or her that not allowing your access with your service dog was illegal and a violation of the Americas with Disabilities Act. If that doesn't solve the problem, you can file a complaint with the Dept of Justice.

      Unfortunately, tattoo shops seem to be a fairly common place for access disputes to occur. Even some service dog handlers told me that tattoo shops were not required to allow service dogs, which is why I called the ADA Info Line myself to get a definitive answer.

  2. I own a tattoo shop and I have a service dog. Service dogs are protected under federal law so no matter what state law says federal law trumps state law. Any tattoo shop telling you your service dog is not allowed needs to be schooled.

  3. My son also got turned away with his service dog. Came home researched this issue and found out he can't be turned away with his service dog. Went back the next day to try and educate them in a positive way and this was their response. Well I will just wait until I am sued and hopefully it goes to CNN and builds my business.