Uber & Service Animals - What you need to know!
Many Uber drivers have been worries about accepting passengers with service animals, and rightfully so; no one wants a bunch of unwanted fur all over their car, especially if they are allergic! Uber has come out with a stern memorandum that states a driver has to accept someone with a service animal. There have been several stories circulating of fellow drivers refusing a pax and getting their account banned, but it is important to discern fact from fiction and know your rights as a driver so you don’t encounter this situation. Here are some of the facts from both the Uber website and the ADA website.
What constitutes a service dog?
ADA: A service dog (animal) is, “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.”
Uber: “A service animal is an animal that is trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.”
Are emotional support dogs considered service dogs?
ADA: “No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. However, some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places. You may check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws.”
What questions can you legally ask the pax?
Is the animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
Memorize these two questions! If you find yourself in a dispute and these weren’t the only two questions you asked, it’s going to become an issue for you as the driver
Do service animals have to wear tags or have proof of registration as one?
No, and this is what makes everything so hard. If the owner was mandated to have a card or a electronic certification, there would be no gray area that many drivers find themselves in. A pax can answer the only two questions you are allowed to ask in such a manner that would allow their animal to be perceived as a certified service animal when they are not.
City & State laws might be different!
While the ADA is very clear in its outline of what constitutes as a service animal and an emotional support animal, you should still check your city and state laws as they could be more specific.
To summarize, you can be skeptical of anyone trying to enter your car with an animal. Know the 2 questions you can legally ask your pax to see if they do in fact have a service animal, but at the end of the day, it’s a judgement call that could end up costing you your ability to Uber around. If you are being smart, you would record any interaction between yourself and a potential pax trying to get in your vehicle with an animal before you have kicked them out or allowed them to ride.