Hotel For Dogs: Pet-Friendly Innkeeping & ADA Compliance

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love dogs and those who don’t. However, no matter which category you fall into as an innkeeper, you’re bound to have a canine cross your path at some point in your career. Whether you’re dreaming of turning your inn into a pet-friendly paradise or just need to prepare for the occasional service animal, perk your ears for some advice from fellow innkeepers on pet-friendly innkeeping.

Pet Friendly Innkeeping: Golden Retreiver walking down stone path
Photo: Unsplash

What Makes An Inn Pet-Friendly?

Just because you’re pet friendly doesn’t mean your inn has to go to the dogs. David Hiler, the former owner of the Three Mountain Inn, let us in on one of the tricks of the pet-friendly trade: “If you only have a couple [pet-friendly] rooms, you still count as pet friendly.” When Hiler and his wife decided to allow pets at the inn, they made the conscious decision to only designate four rooms, each with a private entrance, as pet-friendly and made the inn’s common areas pet-free.

When considering becoming pet-friendly, remember that it’s not an all or nothing decision. Design a pet policy that works for your specific property and capacities, so that you and all your guests (canine or otherwise) can enjoy a comfortable visit.

Benefits Of Being A Pet Friendly Innkeeping

We’re going to start with an easy one: pets are really, really cute. Okay, now that that’s out of the way…According to a 2016 survey from the American Pet Products Association, “37 percent of pet owners take their animals on the road, up from 19 percent about 10 years ago.” As pet-friendly travel continues to grow, innkeepers run the risk of excluding a large portion of their potential audience by not accommodating pets. Additionally, becoming pet friendly can be a great marketing tool for inns. Hiler stressed that when the Three Mountain Inn began allowing dogs, they gained a huge amount of exposure through pet-friendly guidebook and website listings.

Tips for Pampering Your Pups

Our secret to pleasing pets and pet owners alike? Give fido the same five-star treatment you’d give any guest visiting your inn. Darren Drevik, innkeeper at the Phineas Swann Bed and Breakfast, explains, “Your dog deserves a vacation as much as you do.” To give a pooch the ultimate relaxing getaway, Drevik suggests offering pet guests plush dog beds, treats, and even walks for when their owner is away.

Hosting Service Dogs In Your Inn

Of course, not every pup arriving to your inn will be there for vacation. Some of your guests may be accompanied by service animals, and, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are certain legal requirements that you’ll need to fulfill.

If your inn isn’t pet friendly:

Even if the presence of pets is strictly verboten on your property, you’re still legally required to allow guests to bring their service animals. But how do you know if a service animal is legitimately needed? Well, it turns out that’s a bit of a grey area, but we recommend airing on the side of trusting your guest. While you may be concerned that guests are exploiting the ADA rules to bring their animal to your inn, it’s far easier to clean up after the occasional pet than the risk of discriminating against a person with a disability (and the public relations nightmare that could follow).

If your inn is pet friendly:

While your pet policy may normally limit pets to certain buildings or restrict them from common areas, the same rules won’t apply to service animals. According to Drevik, “the Americans With Disabilities Act dictates that a restaurant or inn has to allow someone who uses a service animal access to their facility.” Additionally, if you typically require guests to pay a fee for their pets, you can’t charge them for a service animal. Guests bringing service animals need to be treated like any other guest.

For more tail-wagging talk on running a pet-friendly inn and ADA compliance, tune into the latest episode of Inside Innkeeping.

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