A Service Animal Can Be a Dog or Bird. It is the Law

Dani Moore uses a rat perched on her shoulder as a service animal to alert her to spasms from a disabling condition. Daniel Greene’s service animal is a snake wrapped around his neck to help him predict epileptic seizures.

But these creatures and many others are no longer acceptable as service animals under new federal guidelines issued March 15 by the U.S. Department of Justice for the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new recommendations limit service animals to dogs and housebroken miniature horses.

The new guidelines are not binding to states, municipalities and other agencies, which are free to adopt the policy or to make their own. But individuals who rely on other types of animals to help them manage physical disabilities and conditions are worried.

The law used to say a service animal could be any animal trained to do a task for an individual, said Don Brandon, director of the Northwest Americans with Disabilities Act Center in Seattle.  Continue reading