Service Dogs vs Pets and "ESA" in Vacation Rental Cabins

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We receive many requests to accommodate various types of animals, including Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals (ESA), support, therapy, and Assistance Animals. However, it's essential to clarify that neither the ADA nor Tennessee's service animal law includes emotional support animals. These laws only require public accommodations to allow true service animals and dog guides and do not apply to pets.

Service animals are not pets.

Service animals are trained to work and provide assistance to their handlers. We gladly accommodate TRUE Service Dogs following ADA regulations and TN laws. Nonetheless, we must adhere to existing laws and protect our future guests. It's crucial to differentiate between service animals and pets, as misrepresentation can lead to severe consequences. Real Service Animals undergo months and sometimes years of specific and rigorous training before being paired up with a person with a disability to whom they provide services directly related to the person's disability, and are conditioned to handle changing environments and stimuli calmly, without becoming destructive. They rarely leave their handler's side. Pets, on the other hand, can get extremely stressed when left alone in an unfamiliar environment. They are much more likely to create a nuisance, chewing, barking, and damage. That is unfair to your pet, neighbors, and owner's property that is being damaged. If guests sneak a pet into our No-Pet cabins, we will be charging for clean-up and damages, above and beyond the deposit amount if needed.

Pets are not service animals.

Some individuals wrongly claim that their pets are service dogs or confuse/conflate the terms "Emotional Support Animal," "Therapy dog," and "Service Animal." Many websites sell misleading "certifications" for pets as service dogs, which have no legal validity when it comes to vacation rentals in TN. "ESA" is not considered a service animal under TN law and does not afford its owner/handler any rights protected under ADA. It has the same standing as a regular pet. Per TN law, misrepresenting a pet as a service animal can result in severe penalties.


About Service Dogs.

Service dogs must perform specific tasks directly related to a person's disability. These tasks may include assisting those with visual impairments, hearing impairments, seizure disorders, mobility impairments, allergies, or psychiatric or neurological disabilities.

Tennessee's public accommodations law mentions "dog guides" but does not specifically mention protection for psychiatric service animals.

Our cabins are no-pet.

We have a strict no-pet policy to protect future guests with severe animal allergies. Cleaning properties contaminated with pet dander is expensive and time-consuming, making it impractical. We can refer guests seeking pet-friendly accommodations to other properties.

Don't misrepresent your pet or ESA as a "Service dog".

Buying meaningless certificates, vests, or tags online to represent a pet as a service dog is offensive and disrespectful to genuine service animals and their owners. Airlines are also cracking down on such misrepresentations - updates made to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) in 2021 state that ESAs must travel the same way as any other pet (up to the airline's discretion). Tennessee Bill SB1595 passed on Mar 15, 2024, prohibits ESA from food establishments / restaurants


Tenn. code T.C.A. § 39-16-304

(c) Misrepresentation of a service animal or support animal is a Class B misdemeanor. In addition to the penalty provided under this subsection (c), a person who commits the offense of misrepresentation of a service animal shall perform one hundred (100) hours of community service for an organization that serves individuals with disabilities, or for another entity or organization, at the discretion of the court, to be completed within six (6) months of an order issued by the court.

Bringing a Service Dog.

If you plan to bring a service dog, please declare it during booking or before check-in. Be prepared to answer questions about the dog's training and its tasks related to the handler's disability. You will be also responsible for any and all clean-up and damage caused by your dog above and beyond the rental deposit amount.