Qualifications for service animals to be restricted

February 26, 2013

State lawmakers are moving to narrow the list of animals people can legally claim they need for assistance, and bring wherever they go. You might think only service dogs would be in this category, as they assist the blind with navigation, aid those with disabilities in retrieving medications and assist with balance and stability. But Roxanne Nielsen of the Prescott Brewing Company says people have come in with their parrots, ferrets and squirrels, too.

“People (are) coming in with birds on their shoulder, ferrets in little slings, squirrels in slings, squirrels in women’s purses, dogs in men’s briefcases,” Nielsen said.

The legislation now in the House would narrow the scope to just dogs and miniature horses. And, there would be a list of conditions for a service animal to meet. It would not allow animals for comfort or emotional support. However, Representative Heather Carter says horses will qualify.

“They live longer than dogs, they can be trained to do some different tasks that dogs cannot be trained to do,” Carter said. “And I’ll just answer the question that every body is asking me in the hall and I might as well put it on the record: they are fully potty trained and they function just like a service dog would function.”

The measure won preliminary approval on voice vote Monday in the House.

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