Service animals are life savers, literally. So many people rely on their service animal to make it through their days. These hard working animals are legally allowed to go almost everywhere their human goes because of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. Right now, there are about 500,000 service dogs working in the United States; and that number doesn’t even include all the other types of service animals. Uber and Lyft have become immensely popular over the last few years, but how do you navigate these platforms with a service animal?
It’s important to know what a service animal is. Today, a service animal can be a number of things. Dogs, miniature horses, parrots, ferrets, ducks, and monkeys have all been trained to help people. The most common service animal is a dog. Service animals are trained to help people. There are seeing eye dogs for the blind. Some service animals help complete tasks by opening doors, retrieving items, and more. For certain illnesses, dogs can be trained to sense a seizure and alert their human in the case of epilepsy. The list goes on and on. Special training and registration is legally required to make an animal a service animal. Right now, the ADA only recognizes dogs and miniature horses as service animals.
The pet policy for Uber and Lyft is pretty much the same. Drivers are not employed by the companies; they’re independent contractors. Pets, in general, are allowed by the companies, but the drivers have discretion and the final say if they take pets or not. Good rule of thumb: after ordering the ride, call or text your driver to let them know you have a pet to see if they’re ok with giving a ride to your furry friend.
The pet policy is one thing, however, service animals is completely different. By law, Uber and Lyft drivers are required to give your service dog a ride. Miniature horses are another story because of their size. If you have a service dog, you cannot be turned away by an Uber or Lyft driver; that is illegal.
The ADA does not allow Uber and Lyft drivers - or anyone else public or private entities - to ask for documentation of that person’s disability or the dog’s certification as a service animal. Dogs do not have to wear a vest or anything else identifying it as a service animal. Drivers must take the person’s word. There are two questions that can be asked: 1) Is the animal required due to disability? 2) What has the animal been trained to do or perform? Any other questions are illegal. There is a common misconception that dogs used for emotional support, companionship, crime deterrence, well-being, or comfort are service animals, but they are not covered by the ADA’s definition of a service animal.
If you have a service dog, you can absolutely bring it along on your next Uber or Lyft ride because of the ADA. Otherwise, contact your driver to see if they accept pets.