Americans are more aware of and supportive of issues affecting persons with disabilities than they have ever been. There are several laws in place to protect disabled individuals from discrimination and to guarantee that their requirements are addressed. The field of service animals is one such example. While dogs and other animals were formerly uncommon, more individuals are now using them to help with a variety of challenges, including physical disability, mental health concerns, and more.
With more assistance animals in public settings than ever before, the risk of an animal injuring someone is higher than ever. This may be even more of a possibility with emotional support animals, a relatively new form of service animal.
Support animals do not necessarily have any special training
Unlike service animals, which are explicitly trained to perform a task to assist a person with a handicap, emotional support animals are not required to have any training. Rather, it is their job to offer emotional support to their owners. The odds of an emotional support animal harming another person are higher than those of a service animal because they are permitted in many public settings and are not required to have any training.
Emotional support animals and the law
Emotional support animal owners, unlike service dog owners, are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that businesses, restaurants, and other public places are not required by law to let them in.
Many companies, on the other hand, will allow these dogs and other animals to enter to assist clients with disabilities who would otherwise be unable to buy or eat at their institution. This might cause problems for pets that haven’t been particularly educated to deal with noisy, busy, or unfamiliar public areas (as service animals are). So, what if that emotional support dog has an outburst and attacks someone else?
What to do if a dog attacks you
If a dog attacks you, even if it’s an emotional support animal, the owner will be held liable for your injuries, assuming you didn’t incite the animal in any way. You can submit a claim against the dog’s owner, and you might be compensated for your medical costs, missed pay, and even pain and suffering.
It makes no difference if the dog was present to offer emotional support to its owner; if it bites someone else, the owner is responsible. This is especially true if the owner is aware that his or her dog was not specifically trained to tolerate being in a store or restaurant, or if the pet has a history of aggression.
If you have been bitten by a service animal, you should get legal advice as quickly as possible. A lawyer can assist you in filing a claim and ensuring that vital evidence is preserved to support your case, such as store security video of the occurrence.
We promote the rights of persons with disabilities to get aid and comfort from animals at The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker. However, if a dog or other assistance animal is not properly trained and causes harm to another person, the animal’s owner should be held liable. We’ve handled a wide range of personal injury claims, including dog bite lawsuits, for decades. To book a free first consultation, call 800-333-0000.