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What to Know about the Service Animal Policy

service dogs at the tucker houseIt’s no secret that we at The Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites love our four-legged guests. As one of the most pet-friendly accommodations in Friday Harbor, we feel fortunate to meet furry travelers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and breeds. Like other lodging facilities on San Juan Island, we do charge a pet fee to help offset housekeeping costs. As required by federal and state law, we do not charge a fee for animals that are trained to assist guests with disabilities. Service animals are also allowed into any room, suite, or cottage on the property, as well as Coho Restaurant. 

Service Animals: Dogs That Have a Job to Do

Washington’s Law Against Discrimination defines service animals as animals that have been trained to assist or accommodate people with physical, sensory, or mental disabilities. Similarly, under the ADA, a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability. The tasks or work the animal does must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Examples of service animals that must be allowed into public accommodations under the ADA include:

  • hearing dogs, which alert their handlers to important sounds, such as alarms, doorbells, and other signals
  • guide dogs, which help those who are blind or visually impaired navigate safely
  • psychiatric service animals, which help their handlers manage mental and emotional disabilities
  • seizure alert animals, which let their handlers know of impending seizures. May also guard their handlers during seizure activity
  • allergen-alert animals, which let their handlers know of foods or other substances that could be dangerous (such as peanuts).

Service Animal vs. Emotional Support Animal/Therapy Animal

There is a misconception that emotional support animals fall into the service animal category. Neither the ADA nor Washington’s equal rights law cover animals whose presence provides a sense of safety, companionship, and comfort to those with psychiatric or emotional conditions. Although these animals often have therapeutic benefits, they are not individually trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities (under the ADA) or to assist or accommodate them (under Washington’s Law Against Discrimination). We consider emotional support animals to be pets at the San Juan Island Inn Collection. Therefore, we do charge a pet fee and enforce our pet policy. When booking a room with a service animal, we may legally ask the following two questions:

“Is the service animal required because of a disability?” and “What tasks is the animal trained to perform?” If the animal is not trained to perform a task to assist you with a medical disability, we will consider your wonderful friend a comforting pet and welcome them into one of our beautiful suites or cottages.

We Welcome All – Whether Trained for Service or a Beloved Pet

We realize there is confusion regarding the division between service vs. comfort animals, and that each state is different. Our team members are always here to assist you with the best lodging option to meet your needs. We also suggest reading through the Washington State Human Right Commission’s “Guide to Service Animals and The Washington State Law Against Discrimination.”

To learn more about our pet policies before making a reservation, go here.

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