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Employers Must Allow Workers to Bring Service Dogs to Work?

The Hillsborough County Commission is considering mandating that employers allow their workers to bring the canines to the workplace.


Hillsborough County Commissioners are taking steps to ensure people with disabilities are able to bring their service dogs to work.

Currently the American Disabilities Act does allow service dogs in the workplace for people who need them because of a disability. However, it allows some flexibility on behalf of the employer, in regards to whom they deem should have the dogs at work, said Sandra Sroka, ADA coordinator and acting HIPPA compliance officer for the county.

"I think what the citizen is looking for and what we’re trying to explore is a more stringent interpretation where employers would probably have to have good cause or good reason not to allow the dogs," Sroka said.

The Hillsborough County Commission discussed the issue at its meeting last week. The board directed staff to study what language they'd need to add to county and state ADA statutes to ensure employees with service dogs are protected when it comes to the workplace.

Cesar Silva, a disabled veteran who has post traumatic stress disorder, spoke to the board at last week's meeting about the need for service dogs in the workplace especially for veterans like himself.

"This will allow disabled veterans to have animals in the workplace to help them maintain gainful employment," Silva said. "As a result we can live productive lives in our communities."

Sroka said county attorneys were working on language they could add to the county's legislative package that would be taken to Tallahassee during the Florida Legislation Session, which begins in March. Their hope is that the legislature passes the measure.

New Tampa residents sounded off on the issue on New Tampa Patch's Facebook Page. :

  • Terry Walters Jr: "Pardon my ignorance … But I assumed that ADA rules made provision(s) for service animals. I guess not in the workplace."
  • David Hadley: "Surprised they weren’t already."

The Facebook comments highlight the nuisance of the proposed change. Again, the ADA does allow service dogs in the workplace but permits flexibility on behalf of the employer.

Do you think the county should mandate that service dogs be allowed in the workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

rcarol January 30, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Hi Nicole, for future info, the correct acronym is: HIPAA, not HIPPA. Just thought I'd share that with you.
rcarol January 30, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Yes, I do feel that service dogs certified for all types of disabilities should be allowed in the workplace. A common misconception is that a service dog is used for people with sight disabilities, but there are those trained to will warn their owner when they sense the person is about to have a seizure, thereby allowing them to take medication to prevent it from happening. There are dogs that will assist their owner with opening up doors, etc. HR Departments need to get up to speed and update their corporate policies and ADA accommodations.
EGCT March 13, 2013 at 06:08 AM
I have mix feelings about this. As a disabler veteran with PTSD, I understand what they are trying to do, but I put myself in the place of employers as well. They have to take in consideration that not every one like dog and can feel uncomfortable around them ( more a big dog such like the majority of the service dogs), others could be allergic to dogs. Is one thing encounter a service dog on a shopping mall or public park, that have to site next one for 8 hours at work. Is a delicate citation that need to be studied well.

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