Service Dog Rejected from Airbnb Reservation

My host was lovely at first. She simply reached out to me to confirm that I was traveling alone, a non-smoker and had no pets. I confirmed that I did not smoke, but let her know that I did have a well-trained, quiet and calm service dog. Then things started to go south.

First, she indicated that she would have to confirm with the “owner” whether my service dog would be admitted. I’m a lawyer, and when I calmly pointed out that it was technically a violation of federal law and clearly a violation of Airbnb policy not to admit Huck (my dog), she started to argue. She told me that no private owner could be required to admit pets. I responded that Huck was not, in fact, a “pet.”

Next, she told me I’d likely be charged a cleaning fee – another blatant violation of Airbnb policy. Then, she switched channels on me and claimed that “some owners” have severe allergies. I said of course I would understand if the owner had a bad allergy, but I was confused since the listing was for a building entirely separate from the main house, with granite floors. I encouraged her to review Airbnb’s newly-minted non-discrimination policies, although her responses repeatedly demonstrated complete ignorance of her responsibilities as a host.

Finally, I posted the full text of the policies in a message – to up her odds of bothering to read them – at which point she interrogated me about my disability. She was rude, inconsiderate and ignorant. Ultimately, she allowed my request to expire, even though our conversation took place over the course of four hours. I reported her to Airbnb and the Virginia Fair Housing Office, although I’m not hopeful that any mitigating action will be taken.

Poor Huck and I were just looking for a quiet spot for a couple weeks – on a horse farm in Virginia, no less. No such luck. If you have respect for the rights of the disabled, stay away from this host.

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5 Comments

  1. As you say in the vast majority of situations on an Airbnb you should be able to bring a service dog. Hosts are allowed to charge an extra cleaning fee for animals, so you are not correct in your comment. They are not allowed to ask about your disability but they are allowed to ask how your dog helps you. They are also allowed to expect the dog to be with you at all times.

    Why not book a pet friendly home. Good luck with finding somewhere.

    By the way your link doesn’t work.

  2. I do not think you can expect to take your dog with you wherever you go. An AirBnB is often someone’s private home and I think they should be allowed to make rules on what sort of behaviour they accept (for instance, I would not accept indoor smoking). I appreciate you need your service dog but it’s still a pet/non-human animal that you want to have with you indoors and I think people should be allowed to refuse your booking on grounds of this; I also think people should be allowed to refuse booking to people who intend to bring their young children with them, for instance (as they might be more prone to breaking things or show disruptive behaviour). I am sure you understand the law very well with regards to what your rights are but I don’t think it’s alright that the law would force a private organisation to put up with a pet if they do not want to.

    You know not everyone is going to be happy about you bringing your dog so it’s best to enquire beforehand whether someone is happy to accept you + your dog. In my view, it’s unfair discrimination to reject a booking because someone is a man, asian, black or has green hair because those characteristics do not affect someone’s behaviour/stay. However, you bringing your dog does affect your stay as the dog will shed hair and might smell. A next person might have an allergic reaction to the allergens left by your dog, the owner might need to clean more or be allergic themselves. I love dogs so it’s not a personal thing against dogs as pets but you cant expect everyone to cater to your situation.

    • Like it or not, you are legally required to accommodate service animals. If you attempt to break the Airbnb service contract, as this host did, Airbnb will ban you, as they did to this host.

  3. I’m truly sorry that you had to deal with such a horrible host. It looks like her listing has been removed from Airbnb. For what it’s worth, I welcome service dogs with open arms. Even though it requires planning on my part as one of my dogs is dog aggressive; I am committed to doing the best I can to help people with disabilities enjoy travel.

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