Update (03/23/12) Man sues: Shops refuse mini horse access
US federal regulations now include miniature horses as service animals, just like guide dogs. I smile as I think:
- I could take my mini-horse to work. Ongoing fantasy: Bring my regular horse to work. Not so fast: Regular horses do not qualify as service animals.
- The handicapped parking spots around town could hold my mini hitched up to a little cart.
- I could watch a movie at the theater, as my mini stands next to my aisle seat.
- At the grocery store, we could pick out carrots together.
- I could eat at my favorite restaurant, sit in the patio area, and hitch my little horse to the patio fence.
- We could browse good horse books together at the library.
- I could have a new business: A-1 Mini Service-Horses Are Us, LLC.
Sadly, I need a real disability to use my mini-service-horse; emotional need doesn’t cut it. Personally, I’d rather be healthy than disabled. Note to self: When I turn 80-something, forget the cane. I’ll get a miniature horse.
Problem: My mini-service-horse has to consistently, specifically, and obediently help me. If you know my current horses, this presents a challenge. The uneducated often mistake my horses’ behavior for disobedience.
Another challenge: Mini-service-horses have to be housebroken. My best friend in high school housebroke her illegal-resident, full-sized pig. I also once knew a horse that was trained only to go in the corner of its stall. But fully housebroken horses? I suppose anything is possible. If you do have a housebroken horse, show me the video. I want to see it, and know how you did it. We could quit cleaning stalls at our stable, and save tons of money, although for decency’s sake, we would have to add a few equine outhouses.
Kidding aside, I applaud anything that supports the inclusion of horses in human lives. The triumph of horses in riding therapy programs, and the success of movies like War Horse, Seabiscuit, and Secretariat are testimony to the horse’s modern-day worth.
For more about what constitutes a proper miniature service horse, read on,
- (i) Miniature horses.
- (1) Reasonable modifications. A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or 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.
- (2) Assessment factors. In determining whether reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, a public entity shall consider—
- (i) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
- (ii) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
- (iii) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and
- (iv) Whether the miniature horse's presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.
- (3) Other requirements. Paragraphs 35.136 (c) through (h) of this section, which apply to service animals, shall also apply to miniature horses.
I’ve included paragraphs 35.136 (b-h) so you can see the expectations for your miniature horse service animal.
- (b) Exceptions. A public entity may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if—
- (1) The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it; or
- (2) The animal is not housebroken.
- (c) If an animal is properly excluded. If a public entity properly excludes a service animal under § 35.136(b), it shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises.
- (d) Animal under handler's control. A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
- (e) Care or supervision. A public entity is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.
- (f) Inquiries. A public entity shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A public entity may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public entity shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, a public entity may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).
- (g) Access to areas of a public entity. Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a public entity's facilities where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.
- (h) Surcharges. A public entity shall not ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If a public entity normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
Have you heard? Service dogs are no longer just for the blind. Check out this video: