There’s been a lot of confusion about Uber’s service animal policy and whether or not drivers have to accept any type of animal in their cars.
Today, I want to clarify what a service animal is defined as, the law of accepting service animals, and some tips dealing with the situation.
This can apply for both Uber and Lyft.
Are Drivers Required to Allow Pets in Their Vehicle?
This is totally up to you whether or not you want to allow pets in your vehicle. Me personally, I’m an animal lover. So I’m pretty chill with allowing pets in my car. But, I do get annoyed when people don’t notify me before I arrive.
It’s not cool for passengers to just expect you to accept their pet. Not everyone is fond of animals or can even be around animals.
Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Required To Allow Service Animal In Their Vehicle?
Under federal law, Drivers are required to accept service animals into their vehicle. I see a lot of people on Facebook in Uber groups blame Uber for forcing drivers to accept service animals, but this is not the case. Uber doesn’t have much of a say in this argument either.
You won’t always know until you arrive if there’s a service animal because there’s no law requiring passengers to notify you.
If you do not allow a service animal in your car you will be deactivated by Uber if the passenger reports you.
What Defines a Service Animal?
A few excerpts Coming straight from the Americans with Disabilities Act website:
“A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”
“Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not services animals under Title II and Title III under the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either.”
Basically, somebody trying to bring an animal other than a dog or emotional animals are not covered under the ADA for transportation.
Note: Each state may have more stringent laws than what the federal law is defined as.
Emotional Support Animals
One way people are trying to take advantage of the law is by calling their pet an emotional support animal. Some people even go as far as to get a certificate to acknowledge their animal.
Emotional support animals are not service animals, therefore, this means you are not required by law to allow support animals in your car.
Ways To Figure Out If The Dog Is a Service Animal or Not
You can’t require the passenger to provide documentation proving their animal is a service animal. However, If you truly feel somebody is lying about their dog being a service animal you are legally allowed to ask two questions:
- Is the animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
While fraudsters can easily say yes to the first question, the second question can catch a liar in the act.
If the dog behaves in an uncontrollable behavior you do not have to accept them. Uncontrollable barking, jumping on people, and not listening to the owner are a few examples of unacceptable behavior.
Consequences of Refusing Service Animals
One thing Uber and Lyft isn’t going to mess around with is the laws on service animals. As soon as someone reports you you could get deactivated. If you get multiple complaints from different riders this could also mean bad news for you.
Uber and Lyft will always take the passenger’s side with these issues even if you know you are in the right. If you do refuse an animal and get deactivated, be sure to go down to the office and explain the situation.
The best recommendation, honestly, is to just allow the animal in your car without question. Even if you know the passenger is lying you probably don’t want to risk losing access to the Uber or Lyft platform.
If you do decide to refuse the rude, A smart thing to do when denying a passenger lying about a service dog is to take a short phone video showing the dogs behavior and maybe even while asking the two questions.
Video proof should protect you from permanently being deactivated.
What If I’m Allergic or Afraid of Dogs?
Whether You are deathly afraid of, dislike with a passion, or are allergic to dogs you are still required by law to carry them in your vehicle. If you are afraid of them shedding too much hair or creating any other kind of messes, then I recommend carrying a beach towel in your trunk for the times that you do end up carrying dogs.
You could also get a mini-vacuum or dog hair remover tool to help with any small messes.
Note: For Lyft, if you have a medically documented reason for not transporting service animals they ask that you call their critical response line for further instructions on what to do. The phone number is 1-844-250-3174. I don’t see anything for Uber.
Can You Collect a Cleaning Fee For a Service Animal’s Mess?
If all the dog does is a little shedding the passenger will be refunded the cleaning fee. Uber does not charge passengers on their first or second reported mess. But after a few complaints and Uber will charge the passenger.
This is why I recommend carrying a towel around for the passenger to help avoid as many messes as possible. But in the event that a serious mess does happen, You are allowed to request a cleaning fee.
You are still running a business and deserve to be compensated when other people are inconsiderate in your car.
Recommendation For Passengers Carrying Service Animals or Any Other Pet
There have been a ton of drivers who have arrived, noticed an animal was going to hop in their vehicle, and then drove past and canceled.
There’s a lot of mixed emotion on allowing animals in their vehicle and I can tell you some drivers just don’t care about the policy because they know people take advantage of the system.
The best way to avoid any aggravation and ride refusal is by letting your driver know you have an animal and asking them if it will be OK before they arrive, not after arrival. Service animal or not.
If not OK, cancel the ride and request a new ride and contact them asking the same question. I believe most drivers will usually say yes.
The problem starts when they aren’t notified out of respect for the driver. that’s all we want. A little respect for our vehicle and we would be more than happy to allow your animal in our car. Service animal or not.
At least that’s how I feel.
How Do You Handle Service Animal Requests? What’s your opinion on passengers taking advantage of the law?