Uber disabilities – Uber service animals policy 2019
Uber animals & Uber assistive devices policy – what is Uber’s policy on dogs?
In the United States, Uber passengers are allowed to bring service animals into a vehicle during trips, in keeping with the American Disabilities Act of 1990.
The ADA mandates that ‘privately-owned business[es] that serve the public’ have an obligation to accommodate service animals. As such, Uber drivers must always allow passengers with approved service animals into their vehicles. Not allowing riders with service animals into an Uber vehicle may constitute a violation of the Disabilities Act — a violation which could potentially be classified as discriminatory action or behavior on behalf of an Uber driver.
Additionally, in keeping with the ADA — Uber drivers must attempt to accommodate (to the best of their abilities) passengers who are eyesight-impaired; passengers who use foldable wheelchairs; passengers who use assistive canes; and passengers who use other health or disability-assistive devices — even if the driver does not drive for UberASSIST or UberWAV.
In the past, Uber insisted that its status as a technology platform meant that it could not hold drivers accountable for refusing service to passengers with guide dogs (or other service animals). Controversially, Uber issued guidelines which encouraged passengers to call their drivers in advance, and inform them that they would be accompanied by a pet, or guide animal (which, in the eyes of disability advocates, opened up the possibility of drivers refusing service to individuals with disabilities).
However, despite confusion over the issue, Uber has recently stated that it has ‘zero tolerance’ for drivers who refuse to pick-up passengers with service dogs or service animals.
You can see Uber’s official 2017 policy on service animals here.
Uber & Service Animals – What is Allowed & Not Allowed
The following approved service animal types (see list below) must be permitted to accompany a disabled individual into an Uber vehicle.
Service animals are generally defined as one of the following:
- Guide Dogs (*also known as Signal Dogs, or Leader Dogs) – ‘Guide dogs’ are dogs which are specifically trained to provide individualized help to people with disabilities. ‘Seeing-eye’ dogs are the most common & familiar type of guide dogs — however, there are other types of guide dogs, including: balance-assistive dogs, which help people with physical balance issues; hearing-assistive dogs, which help individuals with hearing impairments; and mobility-assistive dogs, which help push or guide wheelchairs (or carry items or supplies) for individuals with mobility issues.
- Guide Dogs in Training – Guide dogs which are in the process of being trained are still technically ‘service animals’ under the ADA. As such, individuals who are accompanied by guide dogs in training are also protected by the American Disabilities Act, and must be allowed to bring their service animal into an Uber vehicle. Note, however, that owners who are accompanied by guide dogs in training must keep with them a special letter, proving that their animal is being trained at a registered disability-training school. Furthermore, Uber drivers are not required to accommodate a guide dog in training if the animal is not accompanied by its owner (i.e., if the animal is simply being transported between two locations, drivers do not have to accept it into their vehicle).
Uber drivers are no longer required to accept Emotional Support Animals into their vehicles
The following animals are not required to be accepted by Uber drivers into an Uber vehicle, according to federal legal regulations:
- Emotional Support Animals – also known as ‘comfort animals’ or ‘comfort dogs’, emotional support animals are technically certified animals which provide emotional support for people with mental health disabilities. Emotional Support Animals are not limited to dogs — in fact, Emotional Support Animals can include a variety of animal types, including birds, turtles, monkeys and cats. Emotional support pets are generally defined as animals which help individuals cope with panic attacks or social phobias. However, unlike the guide dog types listed above, Emotional Support Animals are generally understood to NOT be included in the American Disabilities Act. Due to legal revisions (which were ratified in March 2011), most emotional support animals are no longer classified as ‘service animals’.
- Search and Rescue Dogs are NOT included under the American Disabilities Act of 1990, and, as a result, are not required to be accommodated by Uber drivers if the driver does not wish to allow the animal into their vehicle. However — in the event of a nearby emergency — Uber drivers must allow Search and Rescue dogs into their vehicles.
- Some Emotional Support Animals — specifically those which help their owners cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — are still technically allowed to travel with owners in an Uber vehicle or other rideshare alternative. Due to ongoing disputes (and general confusion over the law, and, in particular, the status of ESAs), it is recommended that ESA owners carry documentation with them at all times — and be prepared to show their Uber drivers — proper ESA certification (*i.e., documents from a registered doctor or mental health professional), proving their animal’s up-to-date certification & verifying their owner’s medical needs. And, because of the controversial & nebulous nature of Emotional Support Animals in the contemporary legal framework of the ADA, it is also recommended that ESA owners double-check with their drivers about their individual allowance policy before being picked up.