LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas family claims they were tossed out of a burger restaurant after the manger refused to allow a service dog to remain inside while the family tried to eat.
Megan Moon said it happened recently at the Smash Burger restaurant located near Ann Road and US 95.
"All of a sudden we were about done with our order, the manager walks up and she says I see you have a dog, he's not allowed to be in our store, we don't allow pets," said Moon.
Moments later Moon said she tried to explain the dog was a medical alert service dog.
"I said the [Americans with Disabilities Act] states we can be here, [the dog] is protected under the law, and she said 'I'm not allowing this to happen," explained Moon.
Moon claims the manager deleted the order from the register and then tossed her, the family, and the dog out.
"We were embarrassed, other people in the restaurant we're looking at us, like we were causing a scene, they were looking at us like we had done something wrong," said Moon.
The United States Department of Justice has laid out some of the frequently asked questions about service animals.
The law defines a service animal as a dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for someone with a documented disability.
The dog does not have to be professionally trained nor does it have to wear a vest, patch, or other identification as a service animal.
The dog does not have to be certified and the handler does not have to produce documentation for training or licensing.
However, the handler must be in control of the dog at all times and a business can refuse a service animal under certain circumstances.
The law says religious entities are specifically exempt from being required to allow service animals on their premises.
The animal can also be refused if it's out of control, barking repeatedly, or causing a serious disruption.
Danielle Harter, a Las Vegas service animal trainer, says often times people pass off their pets as service animals and those with legitimate disabilities are unfairly singled out.
"It happens frequently," said Harter.
Harter says legally, a business or entity can only ask two questions:
Is the animal a service dog?
What task or function does the dog provide?
Harter says people are not required to answer additional questions, provide a demonstration, or produce documentation.
Harter says there are business that claim to register service animals online, sometimes charging hundreds of dollars for official looking documents and identification.
However, the Department of Justice says there is no recognized national registry and no official federal documents to certify or identify a service dog.
A Smash Burger spokesperson released the following statement:
First and foremost, Smashburger respects and welcomes guests of all abilities. Smashburger supports and adheres to the applicable ADA guidelines involving service and support animals, as they pertain to quick service restaurants. We have launched an internal investigation into the matter, and will use this opportunity to reinforce our policies around service animals.