New Service Animal Rules Anticipated This Year

SEATTLE, Oct. 20 (UPI) — U.S. officials say they anticipate new guidelines will be issued before the end of the year on what constitutes a service animal under federal disability law.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects accessibility rights for disabled people with service animals but the definition of service animal has become somewhat controversial. In Washington state, for example, Daniel Greene’s constant companion is a boa constrictor that gives him a slight squeeze when it senses he is about to have a seizure, The Seattle Times reported.

Greene, 46, says he has been asked to leave business establishments because of the snake, which is almost 5 feet long.

“The animal is just doing his job. He’s not hurting anyone,” he said. “He’s not strangling me.”

The U.S. Justice Department announced plans in 2008 to modify the definition of service animal to exclude reptiles, farm animals, rabbits, ferrets, rodents and amphibians, the newspaper said. The announcement touched off what officials called an unprecedented pubic reaction.

Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar said the department received 4,500 messages — more than for any other topic in recent memory. He said department officials are reviewing proposed changes and pubic comments.

“We anticipate that we will issue final ADA rules this year,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Amphibians, Animals, Other, Reptiles
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