A Burger King franchise was sued recently for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when an owner and his service dog-in-training were asked to leave the restaurant. A federal district court in California sided with Burger King and dismissed the case in the last few weeks. The court focused on whether the puppy, a 13-week-old Great Dane named Barack, was actually a service dog under the ADA. [ . . . Section Explaining what a service dog is under the law. . . ]
The restaurant asserted that Barack the Great Dane puppy was not fully trained as a service animal and only had basic obedience training. His owner, who was training the puppy to assist him with walking and balancing, countered that the puppy had a service dog tag from the county that was issued prior to the restaurant visit. The restaurant provided expert testimony that the puppy still had a “playful streak” and was too young to have complete control over its bladder and bowels for extended training periods.
However, the court focused on the fact that although the owner stated that the puppy was being trained to assist him with walking and balance, the puppy was not large enough at that point to assist with walking and balancing. According to the restaurant’s expert, the owner could have actually injured himself and the puppy if he had leaned on the puppy for balance. The court found that the puppy was not a service dog, because it had not been trained to perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability, and the work or tasks performed by a service dog must be directly related to the individual’s disability. . . Although the Burger King case is an example that hospitality providers do not have to give unfettered access to customers with animals represented as service animals, they should exercise caution and common sense when encountering individuals with service animals. Read full Article Puppies too frisky for ADA shelter - Lexology