Service animals are integral to their handlers’ ability to attend classes or work at Polk State College. For service animals to carry out their tasks, it is important that members of the public follow proper service-animal etiquette. Using information from the state Legislature, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Pet Partners, the College has complied a list of key points and frequently asked questions pertaining to service animals. For questions or more information, please contact the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Service Dog Etiquette – It’s Man’s Best Friend and More

Service Dog Manners
When you meet a person with a service dog, please remember that the dog is working. Don’t do anything to interrupt the service dog while it is performing its tasks.

Some Rules for Interacting with People with Service Dogs

  1. Speak to the person first. Do not aim distracting or rude noises at the dog.
  2. Do not touch the service dog without asking for, and receiving, permission.
  3. Do not offer food to the service dog.
  4. Do not ask personal questions about the handler’s disability, or otherwise intrude on his or her privacy.
  5. Do not be offended if the handler does not wish to chat about the service dog.

What if you don’t like dogs or are afraid of dogs?
Place yourself away from the service dog. If you are a business person, discreetly arrange for someone else to wait on the person. You may ask the person to have the service dog lie down if it does not interfere with its work.

What if the service dog barks, growls, or otherwise forgets its manners?
Find out what happened before taking action. Was the service dog stepped on, poked, asleep and dreaming, performing its job (some alert their owners to oncoming seizures by barking once or twice)? If the dog’s behavior is disruptive or destructive, you may ask the person to remove it from the premises.

What if other people complain about the dog being present?
Explain that the service dog is medically necessary and that federal law protects the right of the person to be accompanied by the service dog in public places.

SOURCES:
Service Dog Etiquette (Pet Partners)
Pet Partner Document

RESOURCES:
Florida Statutes (The Florida Legislature)
 ADA 2010 Revised Requirements – Service Animals
Americans with Disabilities Act