Guests snuck in a dog

the listing says no pets and I just heard from my neighbors that they saw a dog on the porch. They just checked in today- what are my options? I worry that they will say we will bring dog elsewhere but not do so and just do a better job of hiding it.
I called but went right to VM. I emailed through the app and asked for a call and said no dogs.

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I wouldn’t ever recommend calling because you have no record of what was said in the call. When a call is unavoidable I always write a summary on the platform and try to end with a question whose answer would explicitly or implicitly confirm the accuracy of the summary.

I would write on the platform "I understand you have a dog on the property. Could you tell me about that?

They can claim this is a service animal (it might be), and they have no legal obligation to provide notice of that. If they say it’s a service animal, you can ask only two questions:

  1. What task is the service animal trained to do?
  2. Is the service animal required because of a disability?

Assuming there answer is in the realm of possibility, all you can say is something like:

“Oh, I wish I would have known because I would have arranged to get food/water bowls, a treat (if permitted), maybe some throws for the sofa/bed in case he jumps up on those. I hope you found the property as expected. Is all good? Do you have any questions?”

P.S. You might want to have some exterior cameras (disclosed in listing), so you don’t need to rely on a neighbor. Next time it could be unregistered guests, a party, people removing furniture.

Before you play ‘hardball’ with your guests, if at all – and a curt message of ‘no dogs’ is getting into hardball territory, ask yourself how vulnerable you are.

– Do you have a time-stamped video of the condition of your place?
– If not, do you have a substantial history of near-5 reviews that show the quality of your place?
– Do you have a rule that would enable you to cancel the reservation without refund for bringing a pet to the premises?
– Are you close to the property?

I would back off, be nice, ask the question I laid out above, understand the situation and see if you can problem-solve with the guest unless you’re prepared to ask the guest to leave (perhaps with a refund). If they don’t answer I might contact Airbnb and apprise them that the guest has brought a dog despite your ‘no dog’ rule in the listing and won’t respond to you, that you want to cancel the reservation. But they might say it’s a service animal, leave you a poor review and perhaps damage the property out of spite.


Thanks for the advice.

I did hear back via email and it is a service animal so they dont have to inform host. I get it but I have family members with severe allergies and now this will be a problem when they leave.
But it doesn’t sound like I have any options

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If you and the family members live on the property you might have options. But you might need some documentation that the family members living there have ‘severe’ allergies that prevent you from having the dog there. It might also depend on state law.

What state is the property in?
Do the family members live on the property?

So it’s probably best that you be nice and give the second message. “Oh, I wish I would have known . …”

Thank you. I am resigned to it now, there is nothing I can do about it as I don’t live full time on the property. I have not encountered this before and was just so surprised at first that I didn’t even think it could be a service dog.

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We had a post about service dogs before here and a very thoughtful member pointed out that those with service dogs often experience discrimination about the service dog and the disability that made the service dog so helpful. That member persuaded me to give guests the benefit of the doubt and do all you can to welcome them.

Admittedly, we hear of many who take advantage of the service dog rules, and shame on them for doing so. But on the chance that this is legitimate (and we really have no choice, often don’t/can’t truly know) it makes sense to embrace the situation with compassion and an open mind/heart.

You are able to refuse animals (depending on state law), due to safety/allergies, per Air’s rules. I state clearly in numerous places in my listing that we can not accept any animals, due to safety concerns. One of our dogs can be aggressive towards other (unknown) animals.
Before I accept a request to book, l state that we don’t allow any animals, & let them know why. If they’re able to instant book, I reiterate in my first message this firm house rule. I then have them verify that they have read our entire listing, “so they are aware of what amenities we offer, & understand our house rules”. I’ve never had anyone bring an animal, but we have a homeshare, so they can’t sneak one in.
If someone has a true service animal, I think they will look for animal friendly listings.

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You can’t refuse service animals on that basis unless you have a shared home listing. “Entire house” listings can’t refuse service animals, only ask the guests the two questions allowed.

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Oops, @muddy, you’re right- my bad for omitting that! Guess I should remember not everyone is a homeshare host🫢

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