Pet Policy & Service Animals
Distinctive Beach Rentals, Inc. is a very animal friendly environment. Most of our employees have pets and we as the owners of the company have pets. Prior to starting Distinctive Beach Rentals, we owned and ran “Always There Pet Care” in Youngstown, New York. Since moving to Florida, we have fostered for Lee County Animal Services for over 5 years fostering over 100 dogs during that time frame and finding homes for many of those. We encourage our rental properties to be pet friendly and take our dog with us on our personal vacations. Our son is currently studying to be a vet and hopes to open his own practice in the future.
Service animals are not pets; they are trained to work and provide assistance. We receive several requests to make reasonable accommodations for “service dogs”. We are always willing to waive our normal nonrefundable pet fee and make accommodations for true certified “service dogs” in our “pet friendly” and “no pet” properties for our vacation rental properties in accordance with the ADA regulations and Fair Housing Laws. 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, the laws, and future guest to uphold the rules and laws.
Unfortunately, we get a lot of people that claim that their pet is a “service animal”. We know that there are a lot of websites and organizations that will help people try to portray their pet as a “service animal” although they really are not, nor meet the legal requirements. People that falsely claim a pet as a service animal can face extreme punishments.
The ADA regulations provide that the work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the person’s disability and specifically mention the following example:
- Assisting persons who are blind or have low vision to navigate or other tasks
- Alerting persons who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
- Assisting an individual having a seizure
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Alerting a person to the presence of allergens
- Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
- Providing physical support and assistance with balance or stability to a mobility-impaired person
- Preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors in persons with psychiatric or neurological disabilities
We have a duty to our owners to protect their properties. Our company offers three types of pet/allergen properties for vacation rental use.
- Pet Friendly – anyone can bring a pet by paying the nonrefundable pet fee. True service animals do not pay a pet fee and are welcome.
- No Pets – guests may not bring pets to the owner’s property; however, the owners may reserve the right to bring their own. True service animals are allowed and do not pay a pet fee.
- Pet Free – these properties are guaranteed to be free of any pet allergens for all guests and the owner – animals are never allowed, and service animals are not permitted per the law.
When a property is a “pet free” property, the laws protect the property owner from having to endure an “unreasonable accommodation” for allowing the service animal. Our pet free properties are guaranteeing the property owner, and future guests, that may have extreme medical issues regarding animal allergies; that the property will be free of these allergens. Just as some people require a service 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 ($400 to $1500), carpet cleaning the entire property ($120-$500), laundering all bedding, blankets, comforters, mattress pads, etc. ($100 to $500), cleaning of all furniture, sofas, fabric covered items, curtains, etc. ($200-$2000), and more depending on the property. These items would have to be performed in order to assure the medical safety of future guests or the owner, that have been guaranteed a “pet free” environment. In addition, these services would have to be performed between the last guest checking out and the next guest checking in (usually a 6-hour turnaround) which generally can’t happen due to the time of services required for this work. This could result in having to move guests and the loss of rental to an owner. 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 of short-term vacation rentals from unreasonable burdens.
We do offer several properties that will allow pets and service animals. We welcome them with open arms into these properties. We only have a fair request of our guests – Don’t try to pass your pet off as a service animal if it is not. It is insulting and the taking away of a property that a person with a true disability and service animal could be reserving. We will do our best to find a property that works for you, at no additional charge, for your working animal. Please know that we have the utmost respect for the training and hard work this animal has received.
To bring a service animal to an allowed vacation property, the following procedures must be met:
- All service animals must be declared at the time of booking. Failure to declare the animal will result in maximum penalties permissible by law. Some properties require additional paperwork to be completed and an approval process by some condominium associations.
- Answer the following questions:
- Do you or a person in your party need this animal to accompany him/her due to a disability?
- What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform that relates to the disability?
Fort Myers Beach is a pet-friendly paradise with 7 miles of beaches. Fort Myers Beach does allow dogs on all 7 miles of beach; however, they must always be leashed. There is a “dog beach” down at Lovers Key State Park where you can take your dog and allow it to run unleashed.
At Distinctive Beach Rentals we love dogs and cats! Most of our staff are proud dog and/or cat owners and consider them part of the family. See some of our Pets at the bottom of this page! It wouldn’t be unusual to see one of our furry friends making rounds around the office on any given day.
Please note that the only types of pets allowed in any property (if allowed) are dogs. We have a select few that allow cats – please inquire as to which ones we have will. Otherwise no other animals are acceptable. Properties that allow pets only allow friendly/non-aggressive, housebroken, flea free dogs. Dogs are not allowed on the furniture or beds; while many of us don’t mind that in our own homes; keep in mind that this is someone else’s home and please respect their homes.
Pet Friendly properties-
We have a $150-$200 nonrefundable pet fee that must be payed prior to check in. Some properties have special restrictions limiting the weight of the dog or number of dogs allowed, so please contact us with any questions before booking the property. Under the terms of the contract generally two pets are allowed on the premises. All feces will be picked up on a regular basis. Dogs will not be allowed to bark for extended periods of time. When outside the home, local town leash laws will be obeyed.
Your pet deserves a vacation as much as you do! Be hot weather aware! Many people may not realize that having your dog down on the beach or on the deck for extended periods during hot sunny days can be as hazardous to their health as leaving them locked in a hot car. Sand and pavement can get very hot for their paws at the beach, while we have flip flops and other foot ware to protect us, they do not. Dogs paws can and will blister from walking on the hot sand and pavement which is extremely painful for them. Dogs get sun burnt too but can’t wear sunscreen like you can; make sure they get some shade and plenty of fresh water.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding service animals or our pet policies, don’t hesitate to contact us.