Until recently, only easily-identifiable seeing eye dogs were the exception to the "No Dogs Allowed" rule. Today, "service animals" have become more mainstream, and their owners expect all the rights and privileges that come with having them. Service animals are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Association (ADA).
What complexities does this issue include?
New animal registration organizations are forming, and causing confusion within the industry. One of the challenges golf course owners and operators face is how to limit access to animals which are protected by the ADA. Regardless of what service the animal may perform, employees are prohibited from asking the customer what disability they have which warrants their animals' presence. The law does, however, allow you to ask questions pertaining to the animal.
What is NGCOA's stance on service animals?
The NGCOA supports all individuals with disabilities and encourages course owners and operators to ensure staff and facility are prepared to meet their special needs. The Alliance has published a toolkit to assist golf course owners and operators with welcoming and serving customers with disabilities. We always encourage you to know your rights and the rights of your customers -- with and without service animals. The NGCOA will continue to monitor and update you when regulations change and your business is affected. Learn more about this topic and discuss it with your peers.