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Miniature Horses approved as service animals under new federal guidelines

Minis and dogs were the only animals to make the cut in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

4-Apr-11

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Miniature HorseDon't be surprised if you see a Miniature Horse boarding the subway, walking down a city street or inside an office building. Minis and dogs are now officially the only two types of animal approved as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

People living with disabilities have used a wide variety of animals to assist them in day-to-day life. For example, rats and even snakes have been used by epileptics to alert them to an impending seizure. However, under new federal guidelines released by the Department of Justice in March, these animals will no longer be officially accepted as service animals. States and cities may create local ordinances that will allow other animals, however.

While not common, Minis have earned a reputation as an alternative to the traditional service dogs. They are highly trainable and can even be housebroken—a requirement for service animals under the ADA. With a lifespan of 30 years, Minis have a much longer working life than dogs. Typically, people using dogs as service animals must find a new dog every ten years or so, which can be an emotionally trying experience.

Minis require more upkeep than dogs since they need more space and remain healthier if they are allowed to eat and go outside throughout the day, rather than just a few times like a dog. Although a handful of Minis are currently working as service animals in the U.S., not just any horse can make the cut. A docile, intelligent temperament is required to ensure the horse's training is more powerful than its flight instinct, even in hectic urban environments.

To learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit www.ADA.gov

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Reader Comments

JoLynn    Lake Isabella, CA

4/6/2011 11:49:07 AM

I think its awsome. I wouldn't mind having a mini horse for my Service Animal. When we go to the VA Hospital there are a few ladies who bring in rabbits, & a mini horse for the Vets. It uplifts them, & is soothing. My Service Dog & I stayed in my huusbands room the whole time he was there. He was in the ICU for 4 days, had open heart surgery. After taking Brodie for his walk to potty then on our way back some of the Vets would ask if they could pet Brodie so I let Brodie be also a companion Service Dog. They really enjoyd having us there. We also enjoyd visiting them.

Yves    San jose, CA

4/5/2011 4:58:10 PM

I wonder about the criteria..why are emotional support animals excluded? cats,birdsetc...Certainly a parrot can provide emotional and some fetching services.. I posted such comments on LINK

Grey    Ames, IA

4/4/2011 5:44:26 PM

I hadn't thought about the lifespan problem of assistant dogs, the mini definitely has the upper hand there. I'll definitely be looking more into this!

Mini Lover    Somewhere, CT

4/4/2011 5:26:02 PM

Hooray for minis !

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