Practical Service Animal Limits

“Service animals” used to be limited to seeing-eye dogs to assist the blind and dogs used by police and the military for a variety of military, rescue and law enforcement applications. But, in recent years, the term has been expanded dramatically to include animals which supposedly make their owners feel more secure in emotionally threatening environments. Usually this still includes dogs in a variety of breeds, but of course people being people, the notion of what constitutes a valid service animal is being pushed by some to the outer limits of common sense. The Washington State Legislature is currently considering a bill making the obtaining of a bogus service animal’s certification, (which apparently are readily available on the Internet for a modest fee), just so people can take their pooch into a restaurant for instance, punishable by a $250 fine. And, on Wednesday, January 31st, United Airlines barred a Newark, New Jersey man’s attempt to bring a fully plumed, adult male peacock onto a flight to California, citing obvious safety concerns with the large bird’s substantial size, imposing beak and long talons.

Service animals for folks who really need them make a lot of sense and they are generally permitted entry where they do not pose obvious risks to other people present. But, good judgment must accompany whatever need is being used as a basis for one or this whole idea is going to get out of control in a hurry. Is a wild bore a good service animal? What about a bear? Or a moose? Or a gorilla? You get the point. If you have a genuine need for a service animal and the one you use is properly trained and certified and you are refused admittance to a public place unreasonably, please call us as we can assist you. But, if you are just nuts about your pet giraffe and will really miss him terribly when you go bowling, you might be better off considering some more modest adjustments for your sensitivity needs.