Should that Doggy Be in the Window ?

Lately it seems that pets are everywhere.   As both a Business Lawyer and an individual with a severe animal allergy, I notice it more than the average person as if a pet is in a business, I cannot breathe in that business.    I like pets, I just like breathing more.

If you’re considering starting a business, it’s important you know if you’re allowed to have pets in your business.  Notice, I said pets, I didn’t say animals.  Yes, that’s a boring, specific law thing, but it matters.

Certain animals, such as fish, are permitted in businesses.  Other animals, such as dogs are only allowed in certain businesses if they are service animal.  Service animals are not the same as emotional support animals.  Confused yet?  Just wait, it gets worse.

A Service Animal must meet one of two conditions, defined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, in order be a service animal:

  1. The animal is easily identifiable as relating to the disability; or
  2. The individual with the animal can provide documentation from a regulated health professional confirming the animal is required due to a disability.

Even if the animal qualifies as a Service Animal, it is prohibited from being in a food preparation area in a business. 

Some of the types of businesses that are specifically prohibited from having animals, other than Service Animals are:   hair salons, spas, barbershops, and tattoo parlours.   All of these businesses are regulated under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.   If you violate this Act, you could find your business on a published list of violators for two years – not a great way to start a business.

Make sure before welcoming animals into your buinsess, you know what laws you have to comply with, so you avoid the public shaming of the Health Inspection list. If unsure, contact a business lawyer.

Inga B. Andriessen JD