If a horse walks into your store don’t say “Nay” (I know bad pun), especially if the horse is a miniature horse. Under an interpretation of Title II of the ADA by the Justice Department miniature horses have been defined as “service animals” along with dogs, the only two animals to be so defined. The language under the ADA says:
“Service animal” means 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, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”
You will notice that this description DOES NOT include miniature horses. However, The Justice Department’s Fact Sheet on Highlights of the Final Rule Highlights of the Final Rule to Amend the Department of Justice’s Regulation Implementing Title II of the ADA notes that “to allow flexibility in situations where using a horse would not be appropriate, the final rule does not include miniature horses in the definition of ‘service animal.’” There are special circumstances such as the horse must be under the full control of the individual and the horse must be house broken. (Thank goodness!) Additionally, a public entity shall consider “the type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features; … and whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.”
Personally I had never heard of miniature horses being used as service animals. But a friend of mine sent me a link to an article (So a Man with a Horse Walks Into a Bar . . .) that relates the story of a man who uses a miniature horse to pull his wheelchair easier than what a dog would be able to do. I did read that most mini horses that are used are less than 28 inches tall, so they don’t take up much more room than a big dog. One of the reasons they are being used is that they have a lifespan that is generally three times longer than a big dog. If you are interested in more information read Miniature Horses approved as service animals under new federal guidelines.
I did have to chuckle in reading and writing about this. There is so much potential humor in this, which I have exercised with a few puns… but here are a few more…
- If this may occur in your establishment don’t STALL in learning more
- Resist saying to the mini owner “Hay you”..
- Why the long face?
- Don’t say “whoa” to a horse in the building
- Etc., etc,