Why guests with pets need your pet policy onlineBy Wooftogether, Category:Businesses
Hotels and hosts start seeing a boom in their bookings after two very difficult years when basically all travel activities…
Assistance animals are working animals that have been trained to perform tasks that essentially assist disabled people. They have been granted by most jurisdictions unlimited access to public spaces (same way that humans have) and are exempt by pet policies and pet related charges.
According to Airbnb terms and conditions, assistance animals can be service animals or emotional support animals. Airbnb defines assistance animals to include Emotional Support Animals unlike most other vacation rental property platforms. This is a rather unique approach adopted by Airbnb facilitating guests but raising various concerns among the host community.
Let’s navigate both definitions given by Airbnb:
Airbnb has explicitly exempt assistance animals from the broader category “pets” at its new booking interface; it gives as required by the law open access at no extra charge to them and their handlers at any type of accommodation, even if a listing is designated as “no pets allowed”.
That means that, except from when you have declared that animals are a hazard to your health or safety, i.e. due to an allergy, assistance animals are allowed to stay at your property without exceptions and additional fees.
Whereas a host is not entitled to require documentation or any kind of proof regarding the status of the disability and the assistance animal, a guest with an assistance animal is entitled to require proof for the host’s health hazard if excluded by an Airbnb property because of his/her assistance animal.
How to declare that your property is not accepting Assistance Animals due to health hazard reasons:
Be conservative with the health hazard reasons: according to a recent court decision, the guest is entitled to request proof of your health hazard since not accepting assistance animals is considered a direct discrimination to people with disabilities.
We understand that assistance animals sometimes require additional cleaning that you may have not included, but reading this article will help you understand why assistance animals are essential to their handlers’ everyday lives and how you can be protected by new Airbnb policies.
Disability is a word that comes in many types of forms and shapes, and sometimes you may not be able to determine if someone is indeed disabled just by the looks. Assistance dogs provide their service to various disabilities you may be able to notice, such as guidance to the visually impaired or mobility assistance to people with body function and structure disabilities. On the other hand, there are disabilities that you cannot notice at first glance, such as deafness, diabetes, epilepsy, life threatening allergies, mental health and even Alzheimer or others. Animals can be trained to respond to specific triggers in order to assist their handlers with such disabilities. It is important to understand that those animals are mandatory for your guests’ lives and denying their stay is considered discrimination due to disability.
Note that not all service animals need to be leashed, because of the nature of their tasks. For example, a guest with diabetes might keep an alert dog closer to his or her chest to recognize when its handler’s blood sugar is out of balance, and is trained to react accordingly.
According to US law, you may only ask two questions towards a disabled person regarding their pet: “Is this service animal required because of a disability?” and “What task/work is the service animal trained to perform?” You are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.
Most importantly, assistance animals are very well trained, and their behaviour will be an accurate indication on whether this is or not a Service Animal.
According to the Airbnb regulations, in case a service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, you may request that the animal be removed from the premises. The same may happen in case the animal is not housebroken. The guest may stay at the property as intended, after the animal’s relocation. This can indeed happen, as guests may sometimes have a person to assist them instead of the animal’s service.
Additionally, hosts have the right to request compensation in case the animal caused damage to the property beyond the ordinary wear and tear. Airbnb compensates hosts by the Host Damage Protection for damage caused by Service Animals, and AirCover, which provides compensation for additional house cleaning.
Another thing to acknowledge around guests with assistance animals, especially in the case of a shared home, is how you should behave around them.
We understand that it may be impossible to resist their cuteness, but as you would with any other guest’s pet, do not try to approach the animal, either verbally or physically.
You are advised to not get too close to the service animals and their handlers, or make any distracting noises and moves. Do not try to feed, bed or ask to take it for a walk – even if it comes right from your heart. You are advised to not whistle, clap or tap. Give the animal enough space to work and, in general, try not to distract or impede it from performing its task. You can ensure that you can offer your assistance at any time needed, but please don’t insist or try to impose it in case it is declined. In case the service dog tries to approach you, barks at you or follows you, look immediately for its handler. Assistance dogs are often trained to look for help in case of an emergency. However, if you are not aware of how to provide effective support or medical assistance, immediately call your local medical emergency number.
The above explains why service animals are so important to their handlers and why denying a stay is discriminating to people who would simply like to enjoy the experience of staying at your home without stressing even more about their health. In any case, Airbnb has you covered if anything comes up, and with Woof Together Cleaning Products, you can be 100% reassured that no evidence from those hard-working animals will be left behind – fur, dander or odor!