Family angered by service dog refusal from Airbnb host: “He’s allowed everywhere”
A family is hoping that sharing their recent bad experience with Airbnb will help educate people about human rights
A Manitoba family has said they’ll be thinking twice before using Airbnb again after a host tried to cancel a booking they’d made once they found out the pair would be bringing a service dog.
Jonathan Trudel booked a cabin in Belair Provincial Forest back in January as an August birthday present for his mother, Carmen.
Although the cabin did not have a no pets policy, as the getaway drew nearer, Trudel decided to email the host to let them know that his mother, who is visually impaired, would be bringing her service dog.
"I just emailed the host, saying 'my mom and my sister will be checking in first. Out of courtesy, I just figured I'll let them know that there will be a guide dog coming," he told CTV News.
Trudel was shocked when a mere 10 minutes later, he received a call from a case manager at Airbnb saying that the booking would need to be canceled because of the host’s no pet policy.
Messaging the host directly, Trudel informed them that what they were doing was illegal and was then asked to provide proof that his mother's dog was properly trained as a service animal.
"Even in Airbnb's policy it said we don't have to do that," he explains. While Trudel was not required to provide proof, he decided to send it anyway and the host decided they would allow the booking after all.
"He said 'I know I'm going to lose no matter what, go enjoy my cabin,’” Trudel says.
While on the surface it appeared Trudel had won his battle with the grudging host reluctantly agreeing to honor the booking, he says his family was unable to enjoy their holiday after learning that the host’s mother suffered from severe allergies.
"We were worried about any little bit of hair being on the ground," said Jonathan, "We did everything we could, we swept, we picked up his droppings."
For her part, Trudel’s mother, Carmen, says she’s been left shocked by the incident, which, in her 20 years of using service dogs, is something she’s never experienced before.
"I have brought him everywhere, he's been to Disney World, and he's allowed everywhere," she said.
Airbnb says that they have spoken to the host and educated them on the accessibility policy as well as issuing them with a warning, stating that:
"Airbnb does not tolerate differential treatment for Service Animals, and we have a specially trained team to investigate claims of discrimination, with actions ranging from warnings to suspensions to full removal depending on the circumstances. In this case, we can confirm that we found a violation of our Accessibility Policy.”
While Airbnb may have issued a statement condemning the sort of behavior that the Trudel family experienced, Carmen says the experience has soured them on the company and they’re unsure if they’ll use the service again.
"The Airbnb communication, customer service was not good," she said. "They just dropped off the edge of the earth after we were done and the man was still not treating us properly after, and saying inappropriate things."
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past three years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with a very mischievous Cocker Spaniel and a super sassy cat, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.
By Sara Walker