Service & Assistance Animals

January 13, 2009 at 12:19 pm 1 comment

Did you happen to read this article on service animals in Jan. 4th’s New York Times Magazine?  The photo of the service mini-horse aiding a blind woman in the checkout line at Staples implies much of the story all by itself.  Service parrot?  Service monkey?  Service DUCK?  The horse, the parrot and the monkey all do a phenomenal job in assisting their humans.  They can outlive service dogs 3 to 1, not only reducing medicare (and out-of-pocket) costs, but allowing for more subtle communication between human and animal over time.

But there are compelling implications on both sides of the equation.  Where does an airline, say,’seat’ a service horse?  Should small businesses be required to accommodate exotic or especially large animals?  What about our increasingly allergic population?  What about people who are afraid of  monkeys?  How can you be sure whether someone with a service animal is actually disabled (you can’t…see next paragraph)?  Should that matter?  And I have to wonder how the animal fares.  There are the benefits of having a ‘job’ (mental stimulation, attention, reward, exercise, constant company)…but are they well-treated?

Definitely some issues worth mulling over.  Don’t miss p. 4 of the article.  There are only two questions you can safely ask a disabled person with a service animal in regard to their disability and the animal’s function, so take a look.

What do you think?  Feel free to comment.

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Entry filed under: animal & human relationships, animals at work. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. textualfury  |  February 9, 2009 at 11:05 am

    I cannot answer the airline question but I would like to point out that under the current ADA laws all business have to accommodate legal service animals, be it a horse, duck, squid, or cat. If they refuse to do so, the person can sue. Allergies are also not legal reasons to discriminate and deny access.

    For more information you can read the ADA website, my blog breaks down the laws further, or google other experiences.

    As a disabled person with a nontraditional service animal, I can tell you it is more difficult but my cat works better for me than dog.

    There are standards for treatment of animals, especially service animals and that is why the handlers are trained in most cases. I would comment on the article but the link is now dead.

    To boil it down, as long as an animal is trained properly, IE if you cannot train the animal it cannot be a service animal, then I do not protest. I do question the Service Snake thing, how do you train a snake? Can you document this training?

    For you nondisableds reading this, imagine having to depend on something or someone else for everything, would you rather have a service animal, or pay a caregiver possibly out of pocket and sometimes have them not feel up to it just because of human nature?

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