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What do I respond for emotional support animal request

I have read through the prior posts on the topic. Thx to the contributors. But never had this request. My listing IS on my property (it’s a guest house) and my son who plays in the yard, is fearful of dogs. I’m in Virginia. If it were a true service animal, I’d make accommodations. But I feel a bit bullied by “you aren’t allowed to say no bc it is discriminatory “ part. How do I respond?

Can you fence off around the guest house, so if someone brings a dog, it can’t come in contact with your son?

Also, I know this is unsolicited advice, but I would be working on some way of changing your son’s fear of dogs- it’s not something that will benefit him to go through life with. Did he have a traumatic experience with a dog or it’s just an unexplainable fear?

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“Thank you for the heads up, that was very considerate of you. We must respectfully ask that you seek accommodation elsewhere. We have a young family member who has a traumatizing fear of dogs. I see that there are several properties in the area that allow pets. If you would like us to contact Airbnb on your behalf for an alternate location, we would be happy to do so."


Two can play the Airbnb policy game. I’d reply that I appreciate them letting me know and it’s not a problem because they won’t be leaving the dog alone at any time, etc. Look up the Airbnb policies and quote them right back at them. Don’t let guests intimidate you.


Oh, there’s also the strategy of blocking off some of that time so they can’t book. It’s not worth a traumatized son.


Sounds like a lying entitled guest. No thanks. @KKC has a strategy. Another one is changing those days to something like max stay of 3-5 days, etc. I like using Rule Sets for such things - and pricing changes (enable professional hosting tools).

@dpfromva has a nice suggestion of verbiage. We would not offer to contact Air. Lying guests do not earn our time.

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I’m new here. And perhaps a bit naive. But I see the guest as being very straight forward and wanting to be welcome. Perhaps the guest has run into issues before and DOES have a legitimate ESA. I think the guests to be wary of are those who simply show up with an untrained animal and then claim it’s a SA/ESA.

I’m not sure how I would go about handling this. Perhaps set out the rules - must always be leashed, never left alone, etc. Explain the child with fears. And then go from there?


My wife has a medical support dog and we have come across this very same problem. She is amazingly trained, but the first place we booked ages ago on Airbnb, we walked in, the hosts were lovely and loved our dog, she even got on with there dog, they showed us the space and then left. Our dog then peed right in the middle of the living room :see_no_evil: of course we cleaned and scrubbed the carpet, but this can happen and I of course did not tell them as I did not want to incure a cleaning fee (this was before I was a host, I would most likely tell the hosts now!)

We do not allow any pets or support/medical animal in our houses, as we have one ourselves we use this as an excuse as it would ‘distress’ our dog when we returned home. It’s a bit of a flimsy excuse but it does work.

In your situation I would just polity decline and state the you cannot accomadate them due to your selves having servere allergies to dogs and your son has a fear of dogs. You have a right to decline there booking either way and they cannot ask you to prove your allergy :wink:

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I asked a similar question here and cut and paste the answers (with some editing) into this response for future situations. Thanks for folks who chimed in!

Could you please tell me if the service animal is required because of a disability and what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

I do not accept pets because there is a greater risk that an animal’s good behavior slips in an unfamiliar environment. (Maybe add here about your child’s fears?) However, I fully respect the need for service dogs and the important job they provide for their owner.

If you choose to book please first agree to the following:

  1. The dog is completely housebroken

  2. The dog will not go on the furniture and will sleep in his own bed that you provide. I would therefore not expect to find any excess dirt/hair in/on the bedding.

  3. The dog will never be left alone at the property.

  4. Any dog mess outside will be picked up and properly disposed of.

  5. The dog will go outside accompanied and on a leash. It must be in the control of the owner at all times.

  6. Please show proof of all up to date vaccinations (including rabies) and current dog license before arrival.

Please note that disregarding any of these policies will result in immediate cancellation of stay without refund. Any accidents or damages will be taken out of the security deposit. I am sorry to seem so stringent about this and I appreciate your understanding in this matter.


I think explaining your child’s fear should be enough. And, if I were you, I’d specify “no pets” in the listing, if you haven’t, and I’d include the reason—lack of safety due to your child’s serious fear.


I like it for service animals, except I’d leave off the apology at the end. And mention that Airbnb also requires that the dog accompany the owner at all times.
I don’t know that it addresses Airbnb TOS regarding emotional support animals however.


I would never advocate lying @GiGo

@Laura_Tater has a perfectly good reason for not accepting the booking as Her young son who lives on the property is scared of dogs,

Why then suggest they lie and say they have allergies ?

It’s also sad that knowing the values ESA have as your wife has one you bend the truth so that you can deny your guests the opportunity to travel with theirs.


Yes that’s a good reason accept it’s not one outlined in AirBnB’s TOS.


Thank you very much for the comments, especially the templated examples. I reviewed ADA and FHA laws as well as my state laws and AirBandB policies. There are some contradictions in one another so i used the laws as the ultimate guide. In this case, it worked out very well as i replied directly to the guest with our honest situation and she withdrew the request immediately. I imagine it will come up again and i think having a template would be useful. It is also very helpful that i live in an area with tons of STR, and many of them do accept dogs. So there are multiple other lodging options for guests who have ESA. I expect his will be a bit more complex if the animal is a Service Animal, will need to look at on a case by case basis, and also see where my son is at the time. I also incorporated this clause into our contract that i send out PTA.


As you spend time here you will get a feel for the personalities. Some people seem to have a very negative and adversarial tone towards guests. They post as if the guest should be grateful for the chance to pay them and they don’t trust people to be honest. That said, people also lie to hosts. The great thing about the forum here is you get a variety of experiences and can learn something from everyone’s approach.


I would block the dates and respond like this, oh darn I see someone else has booked those dates. Maybe next time! Thanks for you interest.



BS on the whole emotional support animal thing. The law in the US does not recognize them. Neither do I. Sorry but not sorry, ALL DOGS ARE ESA’S. Every dog I have ever had makes me feel better, that does not mean I can bring them everywhere I go. Anyone can get a “certificate” or some quack dr. who never met you to sign off on a ESA that does not make it real.
If someone needs to bring their dog then they need to book a place where the dog is welcome.



In case this ever comes up again with a less responsive guest, and to avoid a small but real risk of delisting by Airbnb, you might want to ask your child’s doctor to write a note (on an Rx pad would suffice), that the child is not to be exposed to dogs without the presence of a therapist.
Then you have documentation to submit to Airbnb.

That could also be helpful when schools are back in session everywhere and the kids take a trip to the farm or petting zoo or whatever, so the adults know to protect the child until the fear is resolved.

I had a contractor, a big burly dude, come to do work at my house. He asked me to restrain my small terriers and was literally shaking. A “friendly” dog at another house he was working at suddenly turned on him and tore open the flesh on his abdomen, resulting in many stitches and real trauma. I always respect others’ fears, whether it’s something I can relate to or not.


Completly agree @RiverRock, every dog is an ESA in some form.

@Helsi, saying some one has an allergy is IMO perfectly acceptable, we booked an Airbnb with our Assitiance dog, who monitors my wife’s heart beat and guides her to the nearest safe location before it’s too late, the owner wasn’t happy about accepting her, but said so long as the house is cleaned, the owner turned out to have an allergy to dogs, which is why she was didn’t want to accept our booking, if she had stated this to us we would have understood even tho our dog is required by law to be able to go with my wife wherever she goes. I don’t think lying is a good option, we do not lie to our guests, but as our dog can become distracted by the sent of another dog in our own home, it is important that we do not accept dogs, however in the OPs case, I would think many people would not understand “a kid being scared of a dog” as a vaild ‘excuse’ not to accept a booking.

Medical Alert Dogs are very differrent to Service Dogs and both of these are very different to a Emotional Support Animal.

Our friend has a Service dog and she litterally performs tasks that our friend cannot do, where as our alert dogs tells us before my wife collapses.

Glad the OP has it sorted.

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Agree. Nor here. Nor me.

Even Airbnb agree that national laws trump ToS, so for most hosts here anything other than a service dog, with the correct Spanish credentials, turning up at a no pets listing will allow the host to cancel the reservation immediately.

In our case, as we have a shared entrance to the building, it doesn’t matter what classification the animal is, they simply don’t get in due my OH’s allergy to animal dander.

Ok, you’ve got me hooked there. So how does the animal monitor heart rate, and how does it know when a heart rate is either normal or abnormal?


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