DOJ trying to federally ban all service animals except dogs.

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Felicitas, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Felicitas

    Felicitas Chillin' With My Peeps

    First article here in the New York Times Magazine:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/magazine/04Creatures-t.html?_r=1

    The author provides a followup in this blog posting:
    http://scienceblogs.com/culturedish/2009/01/newsflash_doj_ada_changes_leak.php

    NEWSFLASH: In this weekend's New York Times Magazine, I reported that the Department of Justice had proposed a ban on guide miniature horses, service monkeys, and other non-canine assistance animals (brief overview of the story and legal issues here, several follow up posts here). In my story, I mentioned that no one knew whether the DOJ had removed the species ban from their proposal after the public hearings this summer.

    I just gotten a leaked version of the latest DOJ regulations, and the agency has in fact made the species ban more restrictive. The DOJ's initial proposal would have allowed cats and other commonly domesticated animals (perhaps including parrots like the one I reported on in my story who helps a man with his bipolar disorder by talking him down from psychotic episodes). But the current version (which the DOJ approved on 12/3 and is now pending final approval by the OMB), restricts assistance animals to only dogs. The DOJ's new proposed service animal definition is:

    "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, cannot be service animals."

    It does include a special provision for miniature horses (but no other species) saying business must make:

    "reasonable modifications in policies, practices and procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability, if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the public accommodation's goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations."

    But in the end, it says, "The miniature horse is not included in the definition of service animal, which is limited to dogs." This strips their users of all legal rights associated with service animal use. It's unclear whether this means users who live in areas that don't allow livestock within city limits (which = most of them), will have to give up their guide horses because they're no longer considered service animals. The big question now is whether there will be another revision, or whether this regulation will be approved before January 20th, when Obama takes office.

    Many readers have asked who they can contact about this regulation, since the final proposal is still awaiting approval. Those interested in speaking out about this can contact their government representatives and state senators.​
     
  2. ginbart

    ginbart Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 9, 2008
    Bloomsburg, PA
  3. English Chick

    English Chick English Mum

    Jun 27, 2008
    Cheshire UK
    This has been the case in the UK...for eons!...only Dogs for the Blind and Deaf are allowed as service animals for use in public...they are the only animals allowed in shops (stores)...we do have Riding Centres for the Disabled....However if people have service animals at home that is their business...but they would not be able to use them in the public domain. That is as far as I know....
     
  4. Felicitas

    Felicitas Chillin' With My Peeps

    English Chick, the problem here in the US is that in the early or mid-90's, a law was passed called the Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA). Among many other things, this law stated that no establishment could bar a service animal. "Service animal" was not defined as just a dog, and people began exploring the use of other animals for service purposes, to great success, as the article in the NYT Magazine details.

    The hard part is that most cities ban possessing/owning livestock and other exotic creatures in cities. Apartments and condos bar pets, but the service animal designation in the ADA forces them to accept them. With this rule change, not only will the handicapped not be able to take them into public accomodations, but the animals will legally revert to livestock/pet status. Many people who use these animals will have no choice but to get rid of them entirely. Otherwise, they will face eviction and/or legal penalties for simply having the animal.

    All because some people have gotten tired of having people bring animals other than dogs into establishments.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  5. spookyevilone

    spookyevilone Crazy Quail Lady

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    Part of the issue is that the ADA rules make it discrimination to request identification that the animal is, indeed, a service animal and a LOT of people (in my state, at least) have been abusing it. Service animals are supposed to be trained for a service, and socialized properly to behave in public. Service dogs aren't loud and yappy and don't jump up on people, service parrots don't shriek and bate, etc. Without requiring any sort of certificate or tag or identification, if you ask if it's a service animal and someone says yes, you MUST take them at their word or the ADA will come down on you if there's a complaint filed - even if it turns out the person was lying.

    MN is trying to distinguish between "service" animals, which must be allowed anywhere with their owners, and "therapy" animals, which would allow them in residences but not in public.

    I'm actually all for this, but I'm biased, having been bitten by a supposed "service" dog that turned out to be a "therapy" dog, which turned out to be total BS by someone just wanting to have their uncontrolled dog in a public restaurant with them. [​IMG]

    In any case.. I am sad to see the restrictions. I think that's going to affect a lot of people who legitimately need a different animal. It's sad that some jerks abused it to the point where someone thought the restrictions were necessary.

    -Spooky
     
  6. conny63malies

    conny63malies Overrun With Chickens

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    what about those service monkeys that will brush teeth and other tasks that a dog cant do.?
     
  7. Felicitas

    Felicitas Chillin' With My Peeps

    I totally understand the need to cut down on the number of people abusing the "service animal" designation. I just think that banning them all except for dogs is like swatting flies with a nuclear device! The obvious solution is to implement a standardized criteria for determining what is a service animal and what isn't, and issuing official permits for those people whose needs and animals qualify.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  8. spookyevilone

    spookyevilone Crazy Quail Lady

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    Quote:I totally agree. I see no reason that there can't be collar or harness tags that say "SERVICE ANIMAL - current [year]" to show that the animal's registered, up to date on all its shots and vaccinations, and that it is indeed a service animal. It'd also be nice if there were requirements on training and some way to have them tested to make sure they've been trained properly. When I contacted the orgs here in MN to turn my mastiff into a service dog for my sister, I was told there's no training for private people, you had to get one of their dogs, but I could train my own and it was just as much of a 'service dog' as theirs. That just made me go "BUH???!!" [​IMG]

    -Spooky
     
  9. Felicitas

    Felicitas Chillin' With My Peeps

    With hindsight, it's easy to see how the law as written led to abuses. (So many laws are like that: made with good intentions, but without any thought as to what the long-term effects may be. But that's another rant ...)
     
  10. conny63malies

    conny63malies Overrun With Chickens

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