Service Animals in Your Restaurant

June 20, 2017

Every year, as the weather gets warmer in Colorado, restaurants are confronted with the familiar issue of people bringing their pets with them into a restaurant. In Colorado, the food code doesn’t allow restaurants to permit animals inside of their restaurant unless the animal is a service animal. Because of that, it becomes the responsibility of the restaurant to determine if a dog is a service animal.

How can a restaurant determine if a dog is a service animal? Short answer, the animal must be a dog or a miniature horse. No other animal qualifies as a service animal under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If it is not easy to identify that the animal is a service animal, the business is allowed to ask only two questions per the ADA:

  • 1.  Is the animal required because of a disability?

 

2.  What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

 

If the customer responds in a way that even seems appropriate, the restaurant must and should allow the individual in with their service dog. The customer must maintain control of the animal at all times, and must not allow the animal to contaminate any foodservice surfaces. If the animal is running around the establishment, going to the bathroom on the floor, begging for food from other customers, or sitting on the table and the owner is not controlling the animal, the business has the right to ask the individual to leave. According to the health department, if they witness an animal acting like this in a restaurant and the business doesn’t control the situation or ask the customer to leave, that would be a violation of the health code, even if it was a service animal.

 

TIPS FOR SUCCESS!

  • DO NOT ask about the customer’s disability! Doing so could put your business in trouble.
  • Inquiring into the validity of a service animal should be done by an individual who is a supervisor or a manager. Getting this inquiry wrong could put the business in trouble.
  • If there is even a small chance that the animal is a service animal, act as if it is. If a business gets it wrong and doesn’t allow someone to enter with a service animal, the business will be in violation of the ADA.
  • Psychiatric Service Animals ARE service animals.
  • Emotional support animals ARE NOT service animals.
  • Therapy animals ARE NOT service animals.
  • Service animals DO NOT need to wear a vest or have “paperwork” to verify they are a service animal.
  • Service animals DO NOT need to be on a leash if the use of a leash will interfere with an individual’s disability. However, the individual must maintain control of the animal.

 

*This information is meant to be educational and not legal advice. If you have specific questions or need legal advice on this topic, please call 303-830-2972 and we will help get you the support you need.

Spotlight on Safety – Protecting Your Business

February 1, 2017

By The Denver Police Department

  • Ensure the business is well-lit and eliminate places for criminals to hide near the building.
  • Lock all doors and windows when closed or away from the business. Install double cylinder deadbolts where possible, securing all points of entry, such as gates, fences, roof access, etc.
  • Remove cash from registers and leave the register open at the close of business and secure valuables or merchandise out of sight when closed.
  • Post signs outside your business letting criminals know there isn’t money in the register or safe, and keep track of inventory by marking items or logging serial numbers.
  • Start or join a Business Watch Program to build relationships with neighboring business owners.
  • Install an alarm or surveillance system.

Contact your local Denver Police District for a business safety assessment.

Safety Corner – Prevent restaurant theft from happening to you!

February 1, 2017

By Sean Pechan, Colorado Restaurant Insurance

We have been hearing from our clients about a recent uptick in burglaries within the Denver Metro area. Crimes against restaurants are typically crimes of opportunity, and these recent reports have definitely fallen into that category. Most often these burglaries happen after the restaurant has closed, however, in several instances a burglary has occurred during business hours. In almost every instance, the burglar has entered a back door (sometimes even during dinner rush). The perpetrator often takes cash and/or inventory food and liquor, then slips back out the back door of the restaurant.

We believe that implementation of some simple risk management steps can reduce your exposure to these types of loss. Besides costing your establishment potentially thousands of dollars, the loss of ‘peace of mind’ for you, your employees, and at times your customers is immeasurable.

Here are some examples of how we can work with you to help improve security and reduce your risk. Consider updating your security procedures and training all staff – including cleaning staff – so they understand their importance and follow the procedures. Develop practical policies in managing the risk of the backdoor of your restaurant (when it is acceptable to be open and how it should be respected). Limit the access of nonessential vendors and staff to back-of-house operations, especially the office where checks and cash on hand is managed. Keep inventory locked even during normal operations. Mark expensive equipment with ID numbers and keep detailed records of all inventory, and store the information off-premises for ease in reporting after the fact.

Contact your local police department for a business safety assessment. The CRI can also provide additional risk management techniques to reduce exposure to loss. We are available to offer guidance to protect your assets. Call us anytime at (303) 830-2972.