As service animals become increasingly common, so too do cases of pet owners who abuse the system by feigning disability. Now at the request of disability advocates, the Justice Department is preparing to crack down.
Traditionally, having a service animal meant traveling with a seeing eye dog. Today, however, man’s best friend can help people cope with seizures, monitor medication or help minimize behavior troubles for children with autism.
But greater understanding of the potential for service animals is also bringing more opportunity for abuse of the system.
Despite having no disability, Rhonda Kimmel brings her West Highland terrier, Maxx, with her nearly everywhere sporting a therapy dog vest. In at least two other cases, people have claimed iguanas as service animals — saying the lizards keep them calm or help with mood.
Concerned that such cases could spell negative consequences for those with disabilities who truly rely on the aid of animals, disability advocates compelled the Justice Department to institute stricter rules.
Accordingly, starting March 15, only service dogs and trained miniature horses will be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, reports The Wall Street Journal. To read more click here.