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    December 31, 2008

    Assistance Monkeys, Ducks, Parrots, Pigs and Ducks … Should the law protect them?


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    The New York Times just posted my latest feature, “Creature Comforts.”

    I’ve posted photos, videos and links below, but first, the gist of the story: When people think of service animals, they think guide dogs for the blind. But today it’s monkeys for quadriplegia and agoraphobia, guide miniature horses, a goat for muscular dystrophy, parrots for psychosis and any number of animals for anxiety, including cats, ferrets, pigs, at least one iguana and a duck. They’ve been showing up in stores and in restaurants, which is perfectly legal because the Americans With Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) requires that service animals be allowed wherever their owners want to go. But now the United States government is considering a proposal that would force people to give up their nontraditional service animals because a growing number of people think the whole thing has gotten out of control. See full story for more. I’ll be talking about the story on several radio programs, including NPR’s Day-to-Day this Friday (click here for local times and stations). I’ll also be posting follow ups here in the coming days, and answering questions if folks have them.
    After the jump, I’ve posted about some of the specific animals whose stories I told in the article: Panda the guide miniature horse, Sadie the bipolar assistance parrot, and Richard the agoraphobia monkey. There are photos (including horse sneakers!) as well as video footage of Panda’s training, and several links to more information …

    Here is a video of Panda being trained to guide Ann around obstacles, and to get into a car:



    Below, a photo of Ann and Panda riding around town in a minivan. You can read The Panda Reports, which explain how Alexandra used clicker training to teach Panda to guide, fetch, even ring a bell when she has to go to the bathroom.


    Here is a different guide horse wearing sneakers, which happens sometimes. Ann Edie and several other guide horse users I spoke with disapprove of “Reebucks” and other novelty horse shoes because they believe (rightly so, I imagine) that such things perpetuate the image of non-canine service animal users as, well, unusual, and encourage others not to take them or their animals seriously (You can learn about other guide miniature horse users on the Guide Horse Foundation’s website, which features a wealth of information, including a page devoted to the above mentioned horse cowboy boots, sandals, and sneakers).


    (horse photocredit)

    Here is a picture of James Eggers whose assistance parrot Sadie helps with his bipolar disorder. There’s a great photo of Jim and Sadie in the magazine, but this one shows how Sadie rides around in a special backpack built around her cage.


    And here is a picture of Mojo, Homer Simpson’s helper monkey* from the 90s, who was probably inspired by the Helping Hands capuchin monkeys who do amazing things for quadriplegics. I highly recommend watching their monkey college video.(*thanks Brendan! plus, mojo photocredit)

    Update: Additional follow up posts with more photos and videos available here and here.

    39 Responses to “Assistance Monkeys, Ducks, Parrots, Pigs and Ducks … Should the law protect them?”

    1. Jessica says:

      The disability advocates I talked with all took the position that people should have the right to choose the species of their service animal based on what best suites their disability and lifestyle.
      Personal injury Attorney Temecula

    2. Tracy Pudder says:

      I am very interested in getting a companion/helper monkey. I have several medical problems and with that I have a great bit of depression. I was borderline agoraphobic a few years ago and I have worked diligently to make it to where I can go places other than my “safe” zones. I saw something with a woman who had a monkey to help her and I just cried because it was the first thing I have ever heard of that I feel in my gut would work.
      PLease let me know what the process is and if I am eligible to get a small monkey to assist me.
      Thank You so much,
      Tracy Pudder
      757-925-2020 home
      757-344-7956 cell

    3. Arock says:

      Hey, ToniSuzanne, I have a genuine distaste for children, can I lobby to get babies banned in airplanes? It would really benefit me.

    4. I think all those thinks realy work my son has also ADHD and I’ve given him a bird(sun conure) that I’ve founded on http://www.avescenter.com and it seems it realy helps

    5. stephanie says:

      I was interested in the story of the psychotic man’s afican grey parrot.
      I have ADHD and my grey has delivered reminders when my activity is obviously disodered and distracted such as walking about aimlessly , frozen in thought etc.He tells me ‘I’m wasting time’. He can show great insight in his comments about people- eg he observed that my autistic grandson was ‘not happy’ (he was having a screaming day) and suggested that he come in the cage with him. Whilst a completely impractical suggestion, it could be seen as smart-Marcus likes to go in his cage when overstimulated and overstimulation was almost certainly causing my grandson’s misery.
      I just thought I had a genius parrot till I read this article-
      Of course there are problems- a parrot needs a lot of attention and is often himself be a distraction! I would not recommend parrots generally as help animals for people with adhd.

    6. ToniSuzanne says:

      Read every word of this article. I’m a flight attendant who sees the FRAUDS constantly.
      Judging from what I see on the web and on planes, MOST of the so-called “emotional support animals” are nothing more than pets. People get their docs to write a letter (and that could be their chiropractor or their brother in law the dentist, or any doc who wants to keep a patient) to write these letters so that they can avoid paying a pet fee on a plane, get their pet into the otherwise animal-free apartment/subsidized housing of their choosing, or carry their animal on their lap when people transporting plain-old pets have to keep them in the carrier under the seat in front of them (safer for the animal anyway). ANYTHING that cracks down on this kind of abuse benefits truly disabled people, as well as other people with allergies, fears, and genuine distaste for animals (and they are allowed to have those feelings).

    7. AJ says:

      While I believe the “Helping Hands” monkeys deserve an exception to the impending rule changes, monkeys like Richard, do NOT. “Helping Hands” provides continual assistance so as to avoid behavior problems or other things that would shorten the animal’s working span. Plus, their monkeys are bred to be disease-free. There have been reports that Richard can be quite unruly and at times has problems with people making eye contact with him. I prefer not to have some back-yard bred monkey with an attitude problem in my local Target.
      I see someone (most likely her lawyer) has finally prompted Ms. Rose on how to (correctly) answer the “two questions”.
      Also, anyone else thing it is dangerous to drive with the animal sitting in your lap with a hand on the wheel?

    8. Ellen Guy says:

      Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde, it is extremely presumptuous of you to think that you know all about this individual’s anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder is not visible to the naked eye. Many sufferers appear to be leading normal lives. This means either their treatments are successful or that they have learned to hide it. Unless your acquaintance is actually your patient, you have no cause to question his/her diagnosis or treatment.

    9. Karyn Grigsby says:

      In response to Sarah Marshall, my comment was “Loved the article!” The person who posted the comments about chihuahuas in purses was Wendi. I hope you can edit!!
      Also, I wanted to add that I thought about this article for days. The only real concern/question I had ended up having was regarding the man with “homicidal feelings.” Why is he being allowed to roam free??? Yiikes.

    10. I finally got around to listening to the Day-to-Day interview (which I recommend highly) and really appreciated how you delineated what Panda the miniature horse could do for Ann that a guide dog could not. The sound of the hooves on the sidewalk or the cue to step up really gave me insight on the tremendous value of unconventional assistance animals. Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention in your usual rigorous yet accessible and engaging manner.

    11. Mad Dog Ranch says:

      Contrary to some earlier statements, horses and rabbits, and many other species of animals CAN be housebroken. Just because YOU haven’t done it, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Training techniques make all the difference.
      Further, not all horses require shoes. In fact, I would be surprised to learn that many miniature horses are shod (with metal shoes) at all. Many full-size horses and ponies go through life just fine with bare feet. Given their flat, smooth surface, a horse’s hooves would be less likely to damage floor surfaces than a dog’s toe nails. And they would probably have better traction on hardwood floors than a dog.
      Yes, a miniature horse could spook, but the people training them are knowledgeable about horses, and prepare for and test this tendency. Not all labs or golden retrievers are suited for guide work, and not all miniature horses would be suited, either. It doesn’t mean the entire species should be eliminated from consideration.
      How unfortunate that a certain interest group (Guide dog supporters) would wish to limit the options and opportunities for people to live more fulfilled lives with the assistance of a variety of animals.
      Yes, there are frauds. That is an enforcement issue. Why throw out the baby with the bath water?

    12. MikeF: As I said in my comment above, “Amazingly, dogs that attack other dogs don’t qualify as “dangerous dogs” under most state laws, so owners usually have no legal recourse if their dog is attacked. Unless the dog being attacked qualifies as a service animal under the ADA.

    13. MikeF says:

      The problem with the claimed long life of guide horses as an advantage over guide dogs is that no guide horse has worked for longer than the average working life of guide dogs – the training has started too recently and most of the early trained horses have been retired after a few years for various reasons including illness and change of circumstances for the owners. And the Guide Horse Foundation itself does not claim that guide horses can be house trained (diapers required) and are better in rural than urban environments. Which, with their long life, could impact where a blind person lived which might affect accompanying a marriage partner who must move to keep job or attending college.
      The problems cited for dogs in training on the NPR site is that under current rules, anyone can claim to be a trainer without having gone through the several years of apprenticeship that the larger schools require of their trainers. The mention of dog-on-dog attacks may be true in New York, but in Texas it is a felony to allow your dog to attack a guide dog while working. And any respectable school would retire a trained dog that attacked a person or another dog. Guide dog owners have always been responsible for any damage done by their dogs.
      Mike (husband of 7x guide dog user)

    14. Occula says:

      Ms. Skloot, this was a fantastic article. I had no idea of the breadth of different types of service animals out there and the amazing work they do for their owners – the story of Jim Eggers touched me especially.
      I have to say I’m a little astonished at the general hue and cry about bringing service animals into social situations. How different is bringing a controlled, trained guide dog into a restaurant than tying an aggressive, untrained dog to a parking meter so it has enough slack to attack a passing child (which I’ve seen plenty of times)? How many people, honestly, are going to contract HepB from a service monkey as opposed to the number of people getting any other kind of Hep – or TB, or influenza – from the millions of sick humans wandering around? I can’t quite see how that argument holds water.
      Again, thank you for the insightful piece. I continue to be astonished at the amazing rapport humans and animals can have with one another.

    15. anon says:

      If Mr. Stockton bothered to follow up or read on any of what was written, horses live and lead a much better situation for some of those who can use/need their assistance. I am sure his wife has lost many a good guide dog because she has outlived theme or their health failed just years into their life. Horses live an extremely longer time, and in doing so, cuts down on the expenses and time that are put into these animals not to mention the bond between handler and horse. The horse does NOT have to wear IRON shoes and can be fit with “street” shoes that are made of a hard rubber to protect your floors and their feet. Any horse that you see (police, carriage etc) in large city are fit with these in order to protect them from glass, rocks and such, but also keeps them from slipping on the asphalt and sidewalks. As for the ability to use the restroom facilities… isn’t there something in there about a bell ringing so that the horse can indicate this? And flying… I am supposing that those who have a service animal are truly aware of their limitations and MAKE accommodations for it. For instance, if a horse can’t fly with you in 2 hours, then let’s make sure that the animal is just as comfortable as us and let’s DRIVE!
      Your thought process is narrow minded, uneducated and uncalled for Mr. Stockton. We service animal users, and trainers are out there doing good for people such as your wife and I, for one, will continue to train and use them. Pumpkin face is right…we are fighting for these rights and we are doing EXACTLY what you did years ago.
      This is all the more reason why my four legged friends mean so much more than my homosapians… at least they aren’t so damn judgmental.

    16. Stocketon: I’m not going get into a flame war, so this will be my only response to you.
      I talked with many guide dog users and their organizations, and read all of the testimony they put forth during the DOJ hearings. I was very surprised to see that some of the pressure to delegitimize non-canine service animals was coming from within the disabled community, but it is not as universal as you suggest above. And it isn’t The Reason the DOJ proposed the species restriction.
      Much of the resistance to non-canine service animals is based on the kind of misinformation your comment is filled with: guide miniature horses don’t require iron shoes, they are as easy to house train as dogs (re monkeys: they wear diapers). Guide horses ride in planes and walk up stairs and have no problem in cities like Manhattan. Critics often claim guide mini-horses will bolt and drag their users, but humans have been controlling several-thousand pound horses for centuries. They have no problem with 100-pound horses. In fact, a 100 pound horse is easier to control than a 100 pound dog, which has a very different center of gravity. Guide dogs are quite capable of bolting and dragging their owner (see Ann’s story in the article). The story and posts here make clear, you can train other species to do the work guide dogs do, and some species — like birds and monkeys — do things dogs aren’t capable of. Fraud does exist, but people like yourself confuse fraud with species — they’re unrelated (in fact, fraud is most common among people pretending to have service dogs, not service horses or monkeys).
      I initially mentioned the resistance from guide dog users in my story, but it was cut because of space. The bottom line seems to be that there are some misinformed guide dog users who — as the previous commenter pointed out — are doing to non-canine service animal users precisely what they fought against years ago: resisting based on misconceptions about what these animals are capable of and how they might aid their owners. The disability advocates I talked with all took the position that people should have the right to choose the species of their service animal based on what best suites their disability and lifestyle.

    17. pumpkinface says:

      M Stockton, it seems that you think that if it’s not your method of doing things, it’s not the right method of doing things. While fraud does exist, it doesn’t seem that the people in this article just want to be able to take their pet around with them. I don’t understand why you’re so against different forms of service animals for different types of disabilities and disorders. Aren’t you doing the same thing to these service and therapy animals that others did to guide dogs years ago?

    18. M Stockton says:

      it’s always nice when a sighted journalist tries to enter our world and always makes for some amusing reading. You see my wife has been blind since birth and she uses a guide dog. So let’s look at some of the facts that you seem to have left out your article and I have some questions for you. First of all you fail to tell your readers who was responsible for having the changes made to the ADA. It wasn’t the big bad government it was the guide dog users themselves. Nowhere in your article did I see that you had contacted the Seeing Eye, guide dogs for the blind or any other guide dog service organization and asked for their comment. We have a hard enough time as it is for business allowing us access to their establishment with a well-trained guide dog. Having ill trained animals pretending to be service animal’s just makes it harder for us to be accepted. Now for the question portion
      how do you train a horse not to defecate or urinate when it wants to? How do you take a horse on an airplane? How do you command a horse to lay down? Horses require iron shoes how are you going to protect delicate floors? How are you going to get a horse to the second level of a building that has no elevator? The video that you show of the miniature horse working is impressive but how is this horse going to work in a busy environment like New York City? How do you maintain a miniature horse and urban environment like New York City? What is going to happen when this miniature horse meets a service animal like a dog? What happens when this miniature horse is scared of something or someone and bolts down the street? How is this miniature horse going to function on a moving vehicle like a bus or the New York subway? The miniature horse is wider and taller than a dog please explain how a handler and a miniature horse could negotiate Macy’s department store in New York City? How do you train a miniature horse to walk over grating like you find in New York? Now replace the words miniature horse with words with monkey or parrot in the above questions. I could go on and on but I think I made my point. You cannot train non-domesticated animals to do the same functions as dogs. And we the disabled community that use service animal’s correction service dogs are sick and tired of people who want their pets to travel with them so they figure that they will fool the general public because people are afraid to confront the disabled. I do believe that the parrot does help the man who has bipolar disorder. And the monkey is a great help to someone who has lost the use of their arms. But should they be for afforded the same rights and privileges that we guide dog users have struggled for over 80 years I think not.

    19. Tiffany says:

      Great article. I am 30 and have been dealing with various mental health issues for the past 8 years or so. About three years ago I got my first pet, a dog, I was going through an extremely dark and difficult time in my life, hospitalization, homelessness, you get the idea. If it weren’t for the love and companionship of my dog, I don’t think I would be here. I got approved for a housing program and my community support worker found an article in the NY Times similar to the one above. It validated the way I thought of my dog, Chance, as an emotional support animal. My physchiatrist also agreed and I have a certified doctors “note” stating such. My landlord accepted the situation and is very understanding, and before I moved in he met my dog. I am grateful for the ability to have such a good living situation. I also read in the Times article that airlines must let you have your support animals travel with you as long as you have your doctors letter to present. They have had support ducks and miniature horses on board. Although I have not been well enough to travel, just knowing if I really need Chance(my dog) I can have him in the seat next to me, really calms me. I know support animals aren’t the same as registered service animals and I think it is up to the owner to act responsibly and not to take advantage of the situation. Support animals really do help the many people who need them and because there are no regulatory guidelines for these situations it is up to the people in these situations to set a good example so we can keep this privlege.

    20. Beth says:

      Thanks for researching this article, an important topic to those of us who use service animals. I am blind and use a Seeing Eye dog to travel around safely. over the years I have run across *many* frauds who fake a disability in order to get privileges. Read more about all that at my own blog, called “Safe & Sound”:

    21. Anon says:

      Tsu Dho Nimh,
      I live in ontario, canada, and here it is illegal for a landlord to disallow pets. Yes, pets. Of any sort.
      if you had gotten an audiotape of the people in the restaurant saying you are not welcome with a service animal there, you could slap them with a fine of up to $25,000 where I live. Definitely. You don’t do that in my province.
      It’s the imbalance in reasons, the people need the animals so much, and the reasons for disallowing them are just so trivial and frivolous.

    22. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

      Rebecca –
      When I was a landlord, I got several queries about “assistance animals” other than guide dogs for my pet-free apartments.
      The “having a pit bull rpoaming the back yard makes me feel more secure” statements didn’t cut it. None of the persons asking were willing to bring me a statement from a locally licensed physician or psychiatrist that the animal was essential to the person. None, nada, zero.

    23. Jess says:

      Should they be protected? Abso-friggin-lutely. These people are lucky to have found a situation and a bond with a creature that can legitimately help them, and good help can be near impossible to find. It borders on immoral to consider taking this away from people who have found contentment and stability with a service animal regardless of species.

    24. Sarah Marshall says:

      In regards to Karyn Grigsby’s comment. Many people have chihuahuas and love them unconditionally. They are not “cowardly,nasty, ugly” dogs as you say, but loving pets that bring joy and comfort to them just as much as your cat brings to you. Not everyone carries their small dog in their purse like Paris Hilton. Take me for instance. I also suffer from agoraphobia, anxiety and depression. I have a chihuahua. I don’t stuff her in my purse. She means the world to me and I really take offense to the whole Paris Hilton and ugly nasty chihuahua comments.

    25. carrie says:

      as a note, working animals must have insurance for third party liability, and damages. my working dog had 2,000,000$ insurance for potential issues as dog bites, or damages to other animals etc… however she’s an awesome working dog and never bites… when trained well, they are phenomenal, and will do things they’ve never been trained to do. my dog actually kept my son from falling off his chair during a seizure and my son was about 160 lbs, my dog only 50 lbs…
      they figure things out when need be…
      I feel that I also have to agree with another commenter who stated that there are a lot of frauds out there. And there are a lot of doctors who don’t know anything about working dogs or the need to have one, and will vouch for a patient to have one regardless of their problems.
      although my dog alerts me to my sons seizures, she also is trained to get my sons medicine for me, to open the doors of the house, to ‘pick up’ items asked for, and many other things which assist me and my son with his disorder. Just having a chihuahua to bark when you are having a seizure isn’t enough. *my neighbour got a dog as a pet, but claimed it was a working dog, in our non pet policy housing unit* it was a chihuahua and unable to perform any tasks sufficiently to be classified as working.
      as with my dog, *black lab from a reliable breeder who has several other dogs placed as seeing eye dogs, working dogs and champion hunting dogs* we do consistent training with her in public and private, and found this fraud woman seemed to be making a mockery of our situation to suit her own purposes.
      anyways, I rant enough…. but to have a working dog, insurance is required, regular vet/health checks, and it always helps to call ahead to a restaraunt just to be sure. Most people are thrilled to have a working animal in their place. those that aren’t, i don’t go to, and neither do my friends anymore.

    26. Wendi says:

      This is an amazing article. I really connected with the woman who owns her service monkey. I also have agoraphobia and only learned about service animals after it was treated (successfully) by medication and lifestyle changes. We all know about dogs and cats who are able to alert someone to an oncoming epileptic seizure or low insulin attack. Obviously, these animals are a great service to these people.
      The problem truly is the frauds. I was at our local Kohls checking out when I noticed the woman in front of me had stuffed her Chihuahua into her purse. Thank you, Paris Hilton. It’s that kind of thing that is going to really hurt the people who need the help of service animals. It’s a fad to carry your tiny ugly dog in your overpriced purse. As much as I would LOVE to carry my adorable and extremely friendly cat in my purse, she’d be more of a distraction. She’s no cowardly, nasty Chihuahua. At home she brings me much joy and comfort, but I know enough not to take her into public unless it’s to the vets or to the park.
      Anyway, I hope some help will come to these people and the Paris Hiltons of the world will quit carrying their ugly dogs in their purses because it’s fashionable. People need real help, it’s not attention seeking.

    27. Karyn Grigsby says:

      Love the article!

    28. Manzanita says:

      I’ve just realised I am my cat’s “service animal” and she is my “therapy animal”: I keep her fed and she keeps me sane. Nice symbiosis!
      Seriously tho – I haven’t had a serious depression since I’ve had her. Animals are great, they remind us of the simple pleasures to be had in life.

    29. Jala Pfaff says:

      This was a marvelous article; thank you! I also couldn’t help (as a writer) smiling at the line “When miniature horses fly…”

    30. stbdhead says:

      As a horse owner I knew about Alexandra Kurland’s work with clicker training, but wow, this sure is amazing stuff at this level. I also believe most of the “concerns” people claim to have about disease are at the very least misguided. Unfortunately, many people are simply flat – out afraid of animals and don’t want to be anywhere near them. I actually think the more exposure to different species of animals people have the better it is for them. There is more to this world than just dogs .

    31. Skloot says:

      Update: Culture Dish’s feed is now live! (Thanks Sb folks!) To subscribe to this blog, just click this link for RSS feed or subscribe to get Culture Dish via email by clicking here.

    32. I did run across quite a few other fraud stories, but most of them were stories told to me by people who witnessed the fraud or perpetrated it themselves. I didn’t come across any legal cases where someone was accused of pretending to have a service animal. There are many legal cases where people have tried to get around no pet rules in housing situations by saying their animals are service animal — many have lost those cases, though that’s not proof of fraud. Sometimes suits are launched by people who mistakenly believe therapy animals qualify as service animals when they don’t. Some people are ruled against when it’s quite possible that their animals really are service animals; other times people who might be faking it win the cases. So the whole thing is a bit of a mess. There are several interesting cases listed here.

    33. Interesting piece–wondered if you had more examples of fraudulent “service animal” claims that weren’t in the article for lack of space? One of my acquaintances managed to get a dog into a supposedly dog-free housing complex by claiming an anxiety disorder–this is someone who functions completely normally in real life, with or without a dog alongside.
      Knowing this person makes it difficult for me to take all the service animals for psychological conditions seriously. (The ones you profiled seem completely legit; just that I know there are others who aren’t.) Especially in light of the wild overdiagnosis and overmedication of psychological conditions, it’s hard to take a doctor’s note as a valid sign of disability.
      I generally support the use of service and therapy animals, it’s just frustrating to see people take advantage of the system.

    34. Matt Hutson says:

      “she… got a restriction on her driver’s license saying that she can’t operate a car without a monkey present.”
      That’s a pretty awesome sentence out of context.

    35. We are 2 Maltese dogs; LoLLy is a rescue. We do stuff in our own way to raise awareness about animal-related issues, since the way animals are perceived (or rather NOT perceived) by humans can lead to abuse. Great piece, we loved it! Your PaLs, LuLu and LoLLy

    36. That’s a fucking fascinating article! Awesome!

    37. Lora says:

      Re: the requirement to test monkeys for zoonoses. I would expect that could vary from state to state, as do requirements for rabies vaccinations for other pets. Does it not? It seems like it would be a Good Thing to make monkey testing a federal requirement, just thinking about the movements of monkeys between zoos and labs and such.
      I know in my home state, dog owners whose dogs are attacked by other dogs can sue the biting dog’s owner for vet expenses, and emergency vet expenses in this area quickly run into the thousands. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten out of the local vet school’s emergency clinic without a $2000 bill if not closer to $3k. Most state agricultural regulations also allow pet owners to trap, quarantine or shoot an animal that is attacking their livestock/pets, although obviously this isn’t feasible in Manhattan.
      There must be an awful lot of very stupid animal control officers out there. Our local guys quickly realized that if loose, vicious dogs and such were to go about unpunished and uncontrolled, it would quickly become a sort of arms race where everyone would keep especially ferocious guard dogs as a matter of course…thereby introducing more vicious animals with half-assed training, creating more bite incidents, and so on.
      That said, complete disclosure: I keep two working dogs that guard livestock, haul firewood, take me sledding, etc. They carry groceries and one is training for her water rescue title. My livestock guardian dog is the only reason I still have chickens (and all my arms and legs) in an area plagued with coyotes, foxes and hawks.

    38. Good questions, Dave. I’m not positive, but I highly doubt service animals are exempt from laws against causing physical harm to humans (via attacks). If a legitimate service animal breaks things in a china shop, or scratches up the floor, businesses can charge the owners, but only if it’s their practice to charge all customers for accidental damage. Otherwise they could get in trouble for discrimination.
      And no, there is no requirement for monkeys to be regularly checked for hepatitis or herpes or anything else. That’s all voluntary.
      Re: the dog on the Oregon bus: Amazingly, dogs that attack other dogs don’t qualify as “dangerous dogs” under most state laws, so owners usually have no legal recourse if their dog is attacked. Unless the dog being attacked qualifies as a service animal under the ADA. If a service animal gets attacked, there are legal penalties. But if a pet or comfort animal gets attacked by another animal, there’s usually nothing the owner can do. I actually wrote a detailed story about that issue a few years ago when I leaned about all of this the hard way: My dog was mauled by a pack of dogs in the middle of Manhattan. They’d mauled or killed 13 other dogs and bitten a few people — the city knew about them, but refused to do anything because there was no law against dog-on-dog attacks. That story with all the legal specifics of the issue is here if you’re curious.

    39. Dave says:

      Are service animals legally exempt from certain laws that would otherwise ameliorate the potential harm they might cause? I assume, for example, that the owner of the dog that killed the other dog on the bus could be prosecuted and/or sued just as the owner of any other out-of-control dog would. Or if a miniature horse damages the flooring in a restaurant or hotel, I assume the owner of that horse would be charged for it. And don’t monkeys need to be regularly checked for things like hepatitis and quarantined if found infected?
      If I owned a china shop and knew I’d get paid for broken merchandise no matter what, I might be overjoyed to see a blind woman come in with a horse. Especially in this economy.

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