Service Dogs Allowed in Virgin Islands?

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Editor,

Last time I checked, St. John was still a territory of the United States. Being a territory means that St. John, as well as all other territories of the USA, is mandated to follow the dictates of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. To refuse service to a person with a disability is a federal civil rights violation and can result in lawsuits, fines, and closure of businesses. Granting access to Americans With Disabilities includes access to those accompanied by service animals. Service animals are granted the same rights as any other appliance that enables the disabled to move more freely within the social environment.

Traveling in St. John with a service animal has been a challenge. Several businesses have been quite accepting, but others, Sparky’s in downtown Cruz Bay in particular, have gone so far as to refuse to complete a sale because of the presence of a service dog. The “excuse” at Sparky’s was that the sales person “didn’t know nothing about that stuff.”

Social awareness is the first step towards compliance. I would ask that business owners here on St. John educate their employees about current ADA laws and that they as owners demand that any disabled person arriving here be granted the respect deserved to them whether they use crutches, a wheelchair, a cane, or a service animal to make their lives more complete.

Most Respectfully,
Dr. Carolyn Drost