Ocracoke Island Realty is a very animal-friendly environment. Many of our employees have pets, especially dogs. We encourage our rental properties to be pet friendly. Often times even our owners and guests will bring their pets with them when they stop by for a quick visit with the staff.
We get a lot of requests to make reasonable accommodations for Service Dogs and Assistance Animals. Service animals are not pets, they are trained to work and provide assistance to their handlers. We are always willing to waive our normal Pet Fees and make accommodations for TRUE Service Dogs and Assistance Animals in our Pet Friendly and No Pet vacation rental properties in accordance with the ADA regulations and Fair Housing Laws, in which we are very well versed. However, as much as we all love dogs, as much as we respect service animals and what they do, and as much as we want everyone to be comfortable on vacation, we have a duty to our property owners and to future guests to uphold the rule of law. The laws governing Service Dogs and Assistance Animals are much more nuanced and in depth than one may think from a cursory search on the internet. There is a lot of false information out there.
Unfortunately, we get a LOT of people that claim that their pet is a Service Dog or Assistance Animal. We know that there are a LOT of websites and organizations that will help people try to portray their pet as a Service Dog or Assistance Animal, without meeting any legal requirements; through online or mail-in “certifications”. Please know that currently there is not any type of legally recognized organization for registering Service Dogs or Assistance Animals. These websites are simply making money off people that do not know any better.
In reality, people who falsely claim a pet is a Service Dog or Assistance Animal can face extreme punishments, including hefty fines and even imprisonment. Know that out of our love and respect for Service Dogs and Assistance Animals, we have a zero-tolerance policy on misrepresentation, and we report all suspected offenders while pushing for full prosecution. We know that some people have been misinformed or misled by some websites and organizations that try to sell a “Service Dog” certification to owners for pets that really are not qualified or needed. If you are one of these people, we caution you.
The ADA regulations provide that the work or tasks performed by the service dog must be directly related to the person’s disability and specifically mention the following examples:
As a licensed Real Estate company in North Carolina, we have a duty to our clients to protect their properties and ensure they get paid for the use of their properties. Our company offers three types of pet/allergen properties for vacation rental use:
When a property is a Pet Free property, the law protects the property owner from having to endure an “unreasonable accommodation” for allowing a service animal. Our Pet Free properties are there to help protect the property owner, as well as future guests, who may have extreme medical issues regarding animal allergies; Pet Free means that the property will be free of these allergens. Just as some people require a service/assistance animal for medical or mental purposes; some people have debilitating medical reactions to animal dander or hair, which is why Pet Free properties are identified.
The cost of bringing a Pet Free property back to Pet Free status is a very unreasonable burden to a property owner. It can include a deep cleaning fee ($200 to $700), carpet cleaning the entire property ($85 to $500), laundering all bedding; blankets, comforters, mattress pads, etc ($100 to $500), cleaning of all furniture, sofas, fabric covered items, curtains, etc. ($100 to $1000), and more depending on the property. These items would have to be performed to assure the medical safety of future guests, or the owner, that need a Pet Free/pet dander free environment. Additionally, they would have to be performed between the last guest checking out and the next guest checking in (usually 6 hours or less). This is usually impossible due to the time required for this work and would cause the property owner to lose future rents in addition to paying the cleaning expenses. Because of this, we cannot allow any animals into a Pet Free property, regardless of their work, certifications, status, disabilities, etc. The law protects property owners from unreasonable burdens.
Luckily, we offer a large number of properties that do allow pets and service/assistance animals. We welcome them with open arms into these properties. We even have check-in gifts for our four-legged vacationers, whether they are a service animal or a pet. We only have two fair requests of our guests;
When planning to bring a service dog or assistance animal to an allowed vacation rental home:
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Service or Assistance animals, our pet policies, or training resources; please email me or call me.
Ocracoke Island Realty