Service dog rant

A guest just booked and told me they are bringing two service dogs, 10# and 35#, hypoallergenic and fully house-trained, both therapy dogs. Said she wanted to be upfront so there were no concerns on my part. I asked the two questions that we are allowed to ask (are they required due to disability and what work or task are they trained to perform.) Of course, if she really needed the dog(s), I’d go out of my way to welcome them.

She replied that one is licensed for visiting patients in the hospital (she says she is a psychologist, although her profile shows that she is an executive coach) and the other is an emotional support animal that has a “PSA ID for Americans w/Disability Act for flying, restaurants and hotels”. Sounds like BS to me, and then I look at her profile and she mentions an 8-year old golden doodle that she misses when she travels.

I’m irritated as I have certain guests with pet allergies, and I try to be pet free so they have a safe place to stay. I’m not sure if I have any recourse here. Are we allowed to ask what kind of dogs they are to show Airbnb that she is bringing the golden doodle that she doesn’t really need? Can we charge a pet fee for the emotional support dog, although we don’t have it in our listing? I just wanted to see what you guys think. I hate when guests take advantage.


It doesn’t sound like either of these dogs are service dogs she requires for any disability she has. Service dogs must provide vital assistance to the handler they accompany, to qualify as service dogs under Airbnb policy. That they are supposedly used as therapy for some work she does with others is irrelevant to bringing them with her as a guest.


Give her the Airbnb guidelines for service dogs that includes that they cannot be left alone on the property and if she breached the conditions…. Out she goes, no refund……
See how she responds


That is total ****. As someone who has been traveling with a service dog for years, this is pure abuse of laws that makes it harder for people who need the dogs to get by ( and when we stay at an Airbnb, we ask first - I don’t want to stay where our service dog isn’t welcome, and I know we aren’t alone in that approach).

Yes, there are therapy dogs. They go visit places ( schools, hospitals, nursing homes). And there are some organizations that certify therapy dogs. All good, but they get no special privileges. Even Airbnb doesn’t recognize them. They are simply pets who sometimes get to hang around people. No pets = no therapy dogs.

Yes there are emotional support animals - they get some protection for rental housing - not STRs, hotels, restaurants, airplanes, etc. Airbnb requires that we accept them (did that change?), which is very wrong. Note that ESAs have no training requirements - they are simply pets.

If someone is offering to show you their service animal certificate, it is almost certainly a fraud. There are no certificates. Most training centers will print badges indicating where the dog was trained, but that’s not a certificate. So, you can ask the two questions, and mention that you fully support service dogs, but report fraud to the authorities. It’s generally easy to tell - a service dog is a) with it’s handler and b) paying attention to its handler while working.


Interestingly Airbnb exempted me from accepting service dogs based on my dog allergy with no medical documentation (I really am allergic) and there was no mention of hypoallergenic dogs. However, I think that Airbnb’s position probably violates the law. There are so many factors including the state you are in, home-share versus separate unit, etc. She said that she wanted you to have no concerns. If you determine that you must accept the dogs under Airbnb policy you could tell her that you will follow policy but that you have serious concerns and voice them. Even offer to let her cancel with full refund. Perhaps tell her that you need the dog breed to reassure other guests that allergies will not be triggered. Unfortunately this one doesn’t have an easy answer.

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There are different types of animal designations. All are permitted by Airbnb without notification to the STR and without fees.

I do tell the owners that since it’s a working dog, it is expected that the dog remain with it’s owner and not left alone in the STR.

  1. Emotional Support Animal (ESA) - many places are cracking down on access of ESA dogs including airlines. There is no organization that can provide documents. Airbnb does allow these dogs.

  2. Therapy Animal - these dogs are specially trained to work with different groups (hospitals, schools, VA, etc) to help ease stress and provide comfort. Your dogs has to have special training for this. I don’t think Airbnb considers these dogs as a non-disclosure service dogs.

  3. PSA - Psychiatric Service Animal

A PSA has been trained in obedience in additional to a specific task for the owner. You can google the tasks. These animals are allowed on planes and you do have to fill out specific paperwork and if the animal does not behave (prolonged barking, peeing and poops inside, scratching, aggressive, etc) they can be denied boarding. There are no specific papers. Airbnb also allows this.

I have a PSA - I have gone through 3 levels of obedience training and then specialty training for my disability . THIS IS NOT BS and AMEYER should not indicate it as such. My disability can not be seen upon observing me but performs a life-saving function.

  1. Service dog - this is what most people think of a service dog. They are even more specifically trained dog for a disability. (IE: Seeing Eye Dog) Airbnb also allows this.
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You did not address PSA and they are not bullshit. As a person who has one who performs a life-saving task, I think you need to be clear. I have provided details in my comments.

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@zimnopivo Just for clarification. At one point you say if they really needed these as service animals, you would welcome them.

Then you say you want to keep your place pet free (dog free) for guests who have allergies. Then you mention a pet fee because of the extra cleaning I assume.

From here it sounds like you’re saying, you do not want dogs in the place, period, for whatever reasons, but you are very willing to comply with the law protecting people with disabilities. Let’s just establish that. And you are understandably resentful of people playing games, which you suspect these guests of doing.

I’m not so sure from what you said these guests are actually playing games. Disabled people can experience discrimination and sometimes choose to keep the precise nature of their disability quiet especially on social media profiles. Especially if it’s a psychological disability.

If you have time before their arrival, I would message guest via the platform again with the exact wording of those two legal questions, again. Say something like, I just want to clarify, and label questions 1. and questions 2. Say thank you and nothing more.

You didn’t mention whether she said yes to question one, or not. If guest did not answer the question yes or no then I think you need to push for such a response.

However if you ask the questions again as I suggest there is a chance guest will cancel the booking, which would solve your problem.

I have used this technique myself to get rid of guests I didn’t want who were able to book with Instant Book----just keep asking them polite questions about whatever the issue is.

Eventually they write back and say we are not a good fit, I’m going to cancel. I do this when I suspect a 3rd party booking but can’t get the guest to fess up, among other scenarios.

If repeated polite questions don’t help for you, I would talk this over with AirBnB customer service.

Your resentment toward these guests make me hope the guests cancel and find somewhere else to go.


Yes, it did change. We are no longer required to accept ESAs, except in CA and NY, I believe (check the policy). Only required to accept service dogs.

No, see above. Not required to accept ESAs anymore except where local law says you must.

And it doesn’t sound like this guest requires a PSA for herself- according to this host’s post, she didn’t answer the question about tasks the dog performs for her, she just said it was a PSA. Which doesn’t qualify as a service dog as far as bringing it to an Airbnb as a guest.

If I had a blind friend who had a seeing eye dog, but was in the hospital for some reason, and I offered to look after the dog for him, that doesn’t mean I get to claim it as my service dog and bring it to an Airbnb that doesn’t allow dogs.


A PSA is probably still required to be accepted in the same places as a Service Dog. Mine performs a life-saving task but only at night so he doesn’t have to be with me at all times.

I don’t know for sure but so far I have not been denied access anywhere. It is not the same as an ESA.

What task is that?


Neither of those dogs are Service Dogs.

And this is complete utter bullshit:

ESAs have no rights whatsoever in restaurants or hotels. This woman is dishonest, uninformed and dumb as a rock (or she is counting on you not knowing anything).

You should have it canceled.

And if your state or city imposes any fines for misrepresenting Service Dogs you should report her. A lot of places have laws against this kind of misrepresentation.


They are not bullshit but they are not Service Dogs and they are not covered under the ADA so they are not allowed in restaurants or hotels or Airbnbs. The guest specifically described it as an ESA that is a PSA. And anyone who tries to pass off a therapy dog as covered is already full of BS.

The PSA bit in this story is irrelevant because the guest called it an ESA too. It’s a story about a guest who is spewing BS, it is not about people with PSAs. I understand the difference.


Exactly! That is why I have no tolerance for ESAs.


Hi Rolf,
It’s not appropriate to ask that question unless I am requesting access to a location with my dog. It’s the same two questions you can ask a service dog.


He performs a life-saving task for you, which doesn’t appear to be the case with this guest. She did not indicate that her dogs perform a needed service for herself.
Additionally, the Airbnb policy states that any dog a guest claims to be a service dog can be required to not be left alone at any time.

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It was not specific to you or your dog. Do you have a link explaining this? A service that only happens at night that a dog provides? M curious.

I’m not going to get into it because what @Lynick4442 has her PSA for is none of our business but I can assure you that I have had many patients with Service Dogs that only needed them in specific scenarios, like at night. It is not even uncommon. The other really common scenario is someone who only needs the Service Dog when they are alone, without other people.

Airbnb has done a terrible disservice to these people by cultivating a myth that people with service dogs need to have their service dog with them at all times because it is categorically untrue. As someone who has been licensed and practicing in this field for 30+ years, I’d estimate that it’s about half and half - half of people with service dogs need their dog all of the time but half of the people with service dogs only need them in specific situations.


So last year I had a long term stay booking via Airbnb and almost immediately it was cancelled for a lab scientist traveling to our area to work. I then received a request and he asked for a discount and I offered my usual 4 week fee. He then said he was bringing a “Support dog” which I then asked for the verification that he was a support dog and also that he would not be left in the River House Waterfront Apartment alone while he was at work. Well, he responded with “outrage,” and said the dog would be in the apartment while he was at work. I said then he couldn’t book. He responded that he was “reporting” me to Airbnb. I am not sure he did since I never heard from Airbnb and given their policy I know I was within my rights. He then wrote that it was “my” fault that he would have to stay in a hotel for three months- really!


Yes that’s what it states in its policy for service animals for home share hosts @Christine_Shirtcliff

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