Traveling with a service dog is possible thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the United States Department of Transportation. People with disabilities can travel, explore new areas of the world, and visit far away family members while accompanied by a service animal. Legally, vendors (including car rental agencies) are not allowed to deny a disabled person the right to use their service dog. To make the process of traveling with a service animal easier on both you and the travel vendors, notify the agents in advance.
Your Rights and the Rights of the Car Rental Agency
Rental car companies are legally required by the ADA to waive pet deposit fees and “no pets allowed” policies when it comes to service dogs, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice cheap car rentals when traveling with a service animal. However, the car company can charge the renter for any damage that the service dog causes - by booking the cheapest car rentals possible, you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg even if you’re charged for damages. Rental agency employees are allowed to ask the owner if the dog is a service animal and what service is provided, but they are not allowed to ask for documentation or a demonstration.
The Gray Area: Emotional Support Animals
Service dogs have special rights when it comes to travel, but other types of supportive animals do not. Therapy, companion, and emotional support pets aren’t protected under the ADA. With enough notice, though, some vendors will still allow these pets to accompany their owners. You may not get a car rental deal when traveling with a regular, non-service pet, but you can still use car rental coupons to lower costs.
When You Need Documentation for a Service Animal
While car agencies aren’t allowed to require documentation for service animals, airlines are. Since you may not be picking up a rental car until after a flight, it’s important to carry identification cards, medical documents, and emergency tags to provide proof that your dog is a service animal.