Service Animals Q and A

Service Animals can be a vital and even lifesaving helper to some of your guests. There can be confusion among restaurant staff and even other guests on service animals.

I reached out to our great Disability & Communication Access Board, and below is the information I received that was written by the HI DoH and the DCAB.

Under the American with Disabilities Act, a food establishment may ask 2 questions IF the disability is not obvious:


  1. Is the dog a service animal because of a disability? If the answer is yes, ask the next question,
  2. What work or task is your dog trained to perform for you? The answer must be a task or work that the animal is trained to do for the person and related to his/her disability. You may NOT ask what the person’s disability is, but answers should be similar to: alert me to when I need to take medication, helps me with my balance, or helps retrieve items for me when I drop it.


The animal must also be under the handler’s control at all time and usually that means on a leash or harness. If the animal growls or barks at someone and the handler does not get it under control, then the person may be asked to remove the animal based on not being under control.


Also, the animal must be housebroken. So, if it relieves itself in your establishment, you may ask the person to clean it up and remove the animal. Again, the handler is asked to remove the animal based on the behavior of the animal, and not on the person’s disability. In both instances the person must be allowed to return to finish their meal or business with the establishment.


A service animal should remain on the floor and is not allowed to eat or drink in the food establishment. This is a place of business and the animal is not allowed to eat there.

They are allowed to go with the person anywhere the public can go. They are not allowed to go into the kitchen or food preparation area, as a person from the public is not allowed to enter that area either.


Here a link to a great fact sheet

My thanks to Francine Wai & Debbra Jackson from DCAB for this great information!


In my experience, guests with Service animals generally wish to sit in a quieter area where there are less people walking by. Also, staff or other guests should not pet or play with the animal – they are on duty!! Also, service animals are not required or be asked to have a vest or for the owner to carry any type of identification or certification.


Emotional, companionship or comfort support animals are NOT considered as Service Animals, and are NOT allowed into your facility. I have to leave my pet Peacock and Turkey in the car when I dine out.


You and your staff should be familiar with the ADA rules to make sure all your guests enjoy your restaurant. There will always be 1 grumpy guest that might complain – explain that the restaurant is following ADA guidelines!!


To learn more detail about Food Safety procedures, or to set up an independent discounted audit of your facility, please contact Peter Bellisario of at  or (808) 491-7766. Check out my website –


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