Service Animal Policy
Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort is committed to making reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of service animals by its customers with disabilities. Service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of people with disabilities, and it is therefore our policy to welcome into our resort any animal that is individually trained to assist a person with a disability.
What Is A “Service Animal”?
Service animals are individually trained to work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. Service animals are not always dogs. Other animals may assist people with disabilities, and they need not be certified or licensed. Service animals do not always have a harness, a sign, or a symbol indicating that they are service animals. Farm animals (other than miniature horses), rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and wild animals are generally not considered to be service animals.
Service animals assist people with disabilities in many ways, such as:
- Guiding and retrieving dropped objects for people who are blind or have low vision;
- Alerting people who are hearing impaired to sounds and the presence of others;
- Carrying and picking up items, opening doors, or operating switches for people with disabilities who have limited use of hands or arms, limited use of their legs, or limited ability to bend or stoop;
- Pulling wheelchairs;
- Alerting people with disabilities to the onset of medical conditions such as seizures, protecting them and cushioning them if they fall and reviving them;
- Doing work or performing tasks for persons with traumatic brain injury, intellectual disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities, such as reminding a person with depression to take medication or waking the person up, helping people with traumatic brain injury to locate misplaced items, or follow daily routines; and
- Providing physical support and assisting people with physical disabilities with stability and balance.
Most of the time, service animals may be easily identified without any need for questioning, in which case, no questions should be asked. If it is unclear whether an animal is a service animal, the following questions may be asked:
- Do you need the animal because of a disability?
- What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?
If the guest provides an affirmative answer to the first question and responds to the second question, the guest and service animal should be welcomed into the hotel. No further questions about the guest or his or her service animal should be asked. Under no circumstances should any questions be asked about the guest’s disability. A guest must not be asked to show a license, certification, or a special ID card as proof of the animal’s training.
Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort Policy For Service Animals
Service animals are not pets. Accordingly, any policies pertaining to pets do not apply to service animals.
The resort must permit service animals to accompany guests with disabilities to all areas of the resort that are open to other guests, even if animals are not ordinarily allowed into such areas. A guest with a service animal shall be given the same access to guestrooms as other guests without service animals (e.g., guests with service animals may not be limited to “pet-only” floors). The resort may not require a security deposit for any service animal, impose any cleaning or other fees for a service animal (except for actual damage caused by the animal), or impose upon the guest with the service animal any obligations, rules, charges, or conditions (other than those relating to actual damage caused by the animal) because of the service animal.
Resort Staff Must Not interfere with the important work performed by a service animal by talking to, petting, or otherwise initiating contact with a service animal.
The care and feeding of service animals is the guest’s responsibility.
All concerns about a service animal should be immediately referred to a manager or assistant manager. Only a manager can make the decision to exclude a service animal from the hotel, except in the unusual circumstance where a service animal’s behavior requires immediate action to prevent imminent injury to others.
In the event that a particular service animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, the service animal is acting out of control and the owner does not take action to correct its behavior, or a particular service animal’s behavior fundamentally alters the nature of the hotel’s business (e.g. excessive barking that interferes with the comfort of other guests), the hotel may exclude the animal from the hotel. However, this decision can only be made by a manager.
Not Pet Friendly Units
Under the federal law, people with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations. This includes the right to own or use a service animal. Homeowner Associations (HOA’s) cannot discriminate against people with disabilities when renting their properties. Each vacation rental owner and property manager have the responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate service animals that according to the law are considered guests and not pets due to the task the animal has been trained to perform.
Resort websites that contain references to pet policies should include the following statement regarding service animals:
Service animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities are not pets. They are welcome at the hotel/resort and are not subject to the policies and restrictions that apply to pets or other animals.