Service Animals In The Fitness Facility
The NIHCA Networking Group was asked about a policy for emotional support animals. Service animals are a lifeline for some members and we want to make sure all members know they are welcome at our facilities. This is a tough question as it isn’t just an opinion or a flexible topic. There are laws protecting service animals and their owners. Please note, there is a difference between a “service animal” and an “emotional support/comfort/companion animal”. Know the difference and you may need to find out more through your local and state agencies to comply with local laws and regulations.
NIHCA would recommend reaching out to your legal advisor/team if you have one or doing some research and getting a policy in place right away if you do not already have a written policy on the topic.
Here are some resources for you:
- MN Department of Human Rights
- ADA National Network
- “The ADA does not override public health rules prohibiting dogs in swimming pools. But, gyms, fitness centers, hotels, or other entities operating a swimming pool must allow the service animal on the pool deck and in other areas where the public is allowed to go.”
We hope these links will help you in developing and/or reviewing your policy on service animals at your facility.