Service Dogs at DragonConEdit
Service dogs are permitted to attend Dragon Con, of course, but you may not be aware that there have been changes that may effect the way a dog is considered by Dragon Con, so I wanted to take a moment to review.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are defined as dogs (or miniature horses) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. This includes helping people with vision and hearing impairments, seizure and medication warnings, stability and balance assistance, calming anxiety attacks for PTSD, and a host of other things.
Under changes made in the law, however, therapy/emotional support/companion animals do NOT fall under this category. They do not qualify for the universal public access right that service animals have. Your emotional support animal may be allowed into the hotels: you will have to negotiate that with the hotel you are staying in. They are not, however, allowed into Dragon Con programming spaces.
When you come to Disability Services with your dog, we will ask you what services your dog is trained to perform for you. Partially because we need to make sure your dog meets the standard for being a service dog, but more just because we think they are awesome, and the range of things they can be trained to do is nothing short of amazing. (HOW can a dog tell you need your medicine? That you’re about to have a seizure? It boggles the mind. Well, mine anyway…)
Dragon Con requires that you keep your service animal under your control at all times. No free run/play time as the ballroom is loading up, for example. A dog that has aggressive behavior toward people or other dogs would also fall under this. (As always, we mention this because we at DCDS have seen examples of both.) I’m not going to mention the housebroken thing, even though the ADA does… that should be a given. For dog 'misbehavior', we may give a warning, if the violation is minor, and the first time. For more serious problems, or for repeated offenders, the dog will be expelled, and we will arrange other accommodations for the dog's handler. Aggression toward another person or dog is an automatic expulsion.
Due to a massive influx of dogs at last year's DragonCon (more than three times the number we've had in any year previously!), including some emotional support animal and pets that caused problems for our service dogs, we have to change the accommodations for our hard working friends. There are two parts to our new accommodations.
People using service animals will be accommodated with *NEW* Service Dog 'tag', and new seating accommodations. The 'tag' will identify your dog as "Pre-Vetted" and shows volunteers all through Con that we have already asked the two legally allowed questions, and they were answered to our satisfaction. Seating accommodations will no longer be on front row, unless you qualify for that in some other way. Dogs will be spaced along outer edges of any bank of chairs, out of main traffic flows, in areas with enough "safe space" around them to keep them from being trampled. Dogs small enough to sit on laps will receive "End of Row" stickers.
Check out http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm for more information on the new regulations for service animals.
If you come out the doors on the very bottom level (where registration is located) and go to the right toward the parking deck, there is a small grassy area available. Also if you go out either the bottom level or the lobby level and to to the street corner toward the Hilton, there is a dirt/pine straw area. Trash can on the street corner.
If you come out the front door on street level, turn to your right. Follow the building's exterior, turning another right. There is a small grassy area specifically for dog relieving purposes, with a baggie dispenser and trash can.
If any of you know the best area, please let us know in the comments... We haven't stayed there in our nearly 20 years with the Con...
There are small areas at the base of the trees along Peachtree street, but We'e always gone across the street. If you go out the lobby of the Hyatt to the street, turn left. Go to the corner and cross Peachtree. If you go about a hundred feet down that street, (John Portman Blvd) is a grassy area. Trash can back up toward the street corner.
There is a good size grassy park area directly behind the Westin. If you exit in the rear of the building where the drop off area is. It’s directly across the street.