Tired Of People Bringing In Their Emotional Support Pets, This Restaurant Put Up This Sign Banning Them All

Recently, one restaurant put up a sign, saying it doesn’t allow emotional support animals. It caused quite a stir online, with some people admiring the bold move and others saying it’s not something the restaurant has control over. However, there’s something we need to discuss before you choose whose side you’re on.

First, let’s get something straight. An emotional support animal is not a service animal. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as dogs or small horses that are trained to perform specialized tasks, for example leading a blind person or detecting seizures. They must be allowed in restaurants, stores, and other public places. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, provide comfort with their presence but usually have no special training.

To promote a pet to the status of an “emotional support animal”, or ESA, all a person needs is a therapist’s letter asserting the animal contributes to their psychological wellbeing. There are for-profit websites, known among some psychologists as “ESA mills”, that will facilitate a quick and dubious disability appraisal by a clinician over the phone or via a web survey to those who do not have a therapist, too.


And while ESAs aren’t legally allowed to venture everywhere in public with their owners (only service animals have that right), they do come with perks. Equipped with a therapist’s letter, its owner may move their pet into an animal-free apartment or dormitory, and fly with their pet in a plane’s cabin for free.

Image credits: Ineedtherapy

Fortunately for those who wish to abuse the law, there is a lot of confusion surrounding these technicalities. Nothing can stop them from lying or using the terms “service animal” and “ESA” interchangeably. “The majority of folks who slap a vest on their pet have already crossed that line,” Ryan Honick, 33, whose service labrador, Pico, helps him with myriad daily tasks told The Guardian. “The easiest giveaway is behavior. A trained service animal is going to behave unobtrusively and professionally. If those things aren’t happening, odds are high the animal is fraudulent.”

While no organization keeps track of the actual number of emotional support animals, a study from the University of California at Davis determined the number of ESAs registered by animal control facilities in the state increased 1,000% between 2002 and 2012.

In the past, there have been numerous cases of people taking the whole ESA thing way too far

Image credits: dexterthepeacock


According to The New York Times, some people who require Seeing Eye dogs have reported that their animals have been attacked in airports or restaurants by untrained emotional support dogs. The explosion in support animals has led to more skepticism of true service dogs as not all handlers can keep them under control.

Of course, not every ESA is a walking threat, but in 2018, Delta Air reported an 84% surge in animal incidents since 2016. Those include urination, defecation, and biting. There have also been media reports of emotional support peacocks starting pandemonium in airports, comfort hamsters getting flushed in a frenzy, and so on.

As a result, more than two dozen state legislatures have already enacted new laws to crack down on fraud. For example, Utah has just passed a law that makes it a misdemeanor to lie about a pet is an emotional support animal, and Oklahoma clarified that restaurants and stores have a right to keep ESAs out.

So, coming back to the restaurant sign. Do you support the establishment?

Image credits: mark_essig

Here’s what people said about this


What’s your Reaction?

12 Replies to “Tired Of People Bringing In Their Emotional Support Pets, This Restaurant Put Up This Sign Banning Them All

  1. Ban children? What kind of stupid statement is that. I wonder, when you were a child, did your parents take you to a restaurant?

  2. From ADA.com:

    3. Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?

    A. No.  These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person.  Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.  

    If the dog has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal. However, if the dog’s mere presence provides comfort, that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA.

  3. Legitimate service dogs provide a service to the disabled person, emotional support animals, psychiatric service dogs and other dogs like that are not real service dogs.
    ” Service dogs” perform a task that helps the disable person lead a more normal life what kind of task does a Psychiatric service dog provide, just being comforted by your dog does not make it a service dog all dogs comfort people.
    Read the ADA guidelines from their website before you decide to turn your dog into a service dog or an emotional support dog because there are differences, and believe it or not real service dogs do not require an ID or a vest.

  4. I agree with the statement about the owner f the restaurant being able to have the final say. The government has overstepped its bounds when they can tell a business owner anything abut how they must run their business or who they must serve. Its time to put the government back in its place and out of privately owned and operated businesses and out of the American peoples homes.
    Now on a personal however I must will add that IF I WERE THE OWNER,, I would probably have no problem with allowing a SERICE DOG into my establishment, provided the person with a disability brings a SERVICE DOG,NOT A EMOTHIONAL AUPPORT ANIMAL. Under no circumstances would I allow just any ol animal into a restaurant owned or operated by me. I love animals. Have had a pet in my life for most of the years that I have been alive including; dogs, cats, gerbils”, hamsters’, guine pigs, parakeets”, lizards”, horses” and a few other things, point being I am a animal lover myself. Currently I have 2wonderful cats. Foxy Cat…a beautiful tuxedo ragdoll and Fancy Pants, a adorable Siamese and Tabby mix. Love love love them. Fabulous companions they certainly are. However I would never ever want to take them to a restaurant, let them on my kitchen countertops or cooking surfaces, allow them on my kitchen table or bathroom vanity or anything like that. Animals are just that, animals. And should be treated as such. Like I said I love my animals, they even cuddle with me most nights. But to bring them into a restaurant and trample on everyone else’s right to a clean eating environment is absolutely out of the question, What kind of narcissus does that? lol

  5. I think that people should realize that mental health issues are just as disabling,as any physical disability. There will be mental health support animals as soon as hard-headed and hard-hearted people begin to understand that just as you wouldn’\t have asked me to tap dance after my minor surgery to remove two toes, you shouldn’t ask me to cope with the same “normal” activities that you find easy. I leave my home 2ce a month. I grab a cab that takes me to the supermarket, where they have picked up my online order and have it ready. I pay for the groceries and head right back home, often in the same cab. That act has caused me to collapse in the store, to become nauseous and to have diarrhea. The symptoms last for hours, before and after the trip. I don’t take my dog because he is not allowed and I can’t in all conscious, lie about it. I cannot go home to visit my family because we travel by buw and my dog is not allowed on the bus.
    What say you stop judging everyone but the few that are just trying to beat the system, just because they want to. I also don’t go to restaurants, church, parties, or any other activity with strangers or groups. Train my dog for free as you do with other disabilities. Put emotional support dogs through training and testing. We need the help as much as any physically challenged person.

  6. It looks like it boils down to training and service. Are there disabilities like PTSD which makes venturing into public difficult? Oh yes. Severe social anxiety? To the point of having a panic attack? Oh Yes. But such animals need training to react and reassure.
    Service animals are registered and certified. ESA dogs should be required for the same. One cannot park in handicapped spaces without displaying the permit to do so or risk being towed. And like college, the certification must come from State-approved/accredited organizations that can test and attest to the animal’s ability to provide such a service.
    In the case of creatures like hamsters- get a stuffie. A good stuffed animal can bring a lot of comfort as an object of focus. I know. It’s what I’ve used when under extreme emotional duress.

  7. So I am in my local (new) doctor’s waiting room and out of one of the patient’s waiting rooms trots a small dog loosely held on a six foot leash and the owner sits a few feet from me and allows the dog to glare at me. Not the first time it has happened, but this time I complained. I was told that it was to assist her because coming to the doctor was stressful and it assisted the disabled. Well, I am disabled and have right’s also. This was no well-mannered service dog. It was an emotional assist pet. In NC, emotional assist/comfort dogs cannot be labelled service dogs, but they can be allowed under the service dog laws if they meet two criteria. One, they have to directly aid the person’s disability, and 2, they have to be trained. Seems to me this dog was trained to glare at strangers. I was once bitten by a service dog, so I have a history, and I also have PTSD for any thing medical, which this staff knew. And now we are going to see mini-ponies? FARM animals with deep hooves that hide oodles of germs? Around our food and in places where sick people go? This is too much. Many people like me are distrustful of the way people handle their dogs, and now it includes the doctors office? I am in no way referring to service dogs, they are great, though the one that bit me was not being watched by his (deaf) handler as I approached him, nor was there a vest on the dog. Or on the one in the office. We need to start dealing with this before the lawsuits (rightfully) pour in. Or, since a mental illness is part of my disability, I could train maybe a python or a rat to comfort me when I am made anxious by their comfort dogs, and bring it to the doctor’s office and then maybe they will get a clue.

  8. Incorrect! Incorrect incorrect incorrect ESA ARE service dogs! Actual ESA’s ARE trained to perform certain tasks AND trained to behave in all public settings! Do NOT at me because I HAVE an emotional support dog! I PAID for all the training! I DID all the at home training so she knows how to behave in public! What are NOT actual ESA’s are the dogs people slap a vest on that they purchased online and say are service dogs. Actual trained ESA’s are considered Psychiatric Service Dogs!

  9. I am ok not to let ESA into one’s own restaurant. They are pets.
    The owner of the restaurant is the owner, is the Boss, it’s his place, it’s he who decides.

    Humans in lack of empathy might find human companions.

    I quite understand that persons who cannot have or want not have children compensate through ESAs.
    On the other hand please don’t make children in place of ESAs – poor child… Don’t mix up everything.

    I am really ok for real service animals. They are trained for to help disabled persons. All those I met were quiet, proper, calm.
    I myself am somewhat physically disabled (≥ 80%, for lifetime), but I not am in need of a service animal.

    Here in France is no law which would oblige a restaurateur to accept pets. Service animals yes.

    As for noisy children in restaurants, there are. Children run, make noise. They live.
    We know. My wife and me both are grandparents. She got three children, me two. Add up their children… When we want to be in quiet, candle & good wine diner, we avoid to go to noisy restaurants. No McDo ! One has the choice, don’t we ?

    There is a judgement under way, here in France. A restaurant Chef (we never were there) who openly says and shows “no children here”. He is sued. Tribunal will say.

    We live in a house outsides the village. There is ground around. Really phantastic savage playground for children, adventure !
    Most of the year us two live alone here, quietly (Average noise level in the nights 23 to 27 dB, daytimes about 32 to 34 dB. Our own respiration is more…). Measured with calibrated Bruel&Kjaer.

    In hollydays seasons, summer or winter, there are more than twenty persons, mostly children. I am hypersensible to noise.
    So, well, sometimes daddy, papy (me) needs some rest, to recover, after noisy diner (up to shrilling 110, 113 dB at table). They understand. Hugs 🙂 .

  10. Can we bar children, too? They are far more aggravating than the average pet, and often smell worse…

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