ADA Guidelines Limit Service Animals to Dogs and Miniature Horses

Author: madeline bernstein
Published: April 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm

The ADA defines service animals as "animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets".

As such, any animal, whether dog, horse, monkey, bird or rat, trained to assist or alert was qualified to serve. A particular animal would be selected based upon need, size, allergies and level of skills.  So a monkey might be perfect when hands are needed, miniature horses are excellent for the visually impaired, while ducks, ferrets and parrots assist in controlling anxiety disorders. Furthermore, different animals can sense and/or smell seizures, spasms and physical changes before their onset thereby affording their person time to protect themselves, take medication or call for help. For example, a woman uses a service rat who can detect the start of spasms that she can't feel and warns her by licking her neck to take her medication. In other words, service animals are not just the traditional guide dogs.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice issued new guidelines for the ADA which recommend limiting service animals to dogs and housebroken miniature horses. (Miniature horses are often preferred as guide animals as they have excellent vision and live three times as long as dogs.) Their decision was based on comments from business establishments not comfortable dealing with the assortment of visiting wildlife as well as the enormous amount of fraud committed by people who just want to bring their pets with them wherever they go. Knock off service vests, purchased doctors' notes and on expensive line certificates can all be acquired to assert that an animal is essential to the well-being of the person. In fact, the ADA requires that the animals be allowed access with challenges made after the fact.

These guidelines need not be followed by states, cities or even other federal agencies, but they certainly do not augur well for those legitimate sufferers who depend upon non dogs and miniature horses for their health as they could well be adopted and start a trend.Perhaps if those suffering from the "I want to get my way at any cost" disease would heal themselves, those needing to bring a snake out to dinner could do so and thrive.


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Article Author: madeline bernstein

Madeline Bernstein is the President/CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). She is a highly accomplished, articulate and respected attorney who is one of America‚Äôs preeminent leaders and advocates promoting animal welfare. …

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