Please accept my apologies. This was scheduled to go live Wednesday, 12/5/18. It failed to publish for reasons I don’t understand.
Like many people around the world, I was touched by this photo of President George H. W. Bush’s service dog Sully by his casket this weekend.
|The late President George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully helped him with “a list that’s two pages long” of tasks, after his wife Barbara passed away earlier this year. Photo by Evan Sisley.|
I’ve written about service animals repeatedly on this blog, including in a series of Images of Interest in January 2017, the first of which is here. Several species can be taught to perform a variety of helpful tasks, including monkeys and miniature horses, but the vast majority of service animals (as opposed to emotional support animals or ESAs), and the ones most clearly identified as such in the ADA language, are dogs.
Regulatory language established under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, says “service animals must be individually trained to do work or carry out tasks” on behalf of the disabled person. The original language did not specify acceptable species, but currently only dogs are recognized as service animals under Title II and Title III, but an exception is made for miniature horses in some cases.
However, those three specialty areas are only the beginning. They can be trained to do all sorts of things.
There has, of course, been controversy recently about emotional support animals traveling and having access to facilities from which pets are banned, particularly in the wake of an incident when a woman attempted to bring a “comfort peacock” on a United flight. In October 2018, Southwest Airlines limited acceptable species to dogs, cats, and miniature horses.
Miniature horses mostly appear to be used as guide animals for the blind. Here’s an overview with several good pictures, including a situation that occurred in a devout Muslim family. Their culture considers dogs to be unclean animals, and therefore not acceptable in the home–but horses are okay. I also found a rather fuzzy 2009 video from The Rachael Ray Show (they’re worrying about ADA regulations that ultimately did include guide horses) but Ann Edie and Panda, the guide horse Rachael Ray featured, are also featured in a much clearer video from 2017.
No, cats can’t be service animals under ADA regulations (after all cats have staff. They aren’t servants themselves! That would be a perversion of nature. Right?). But apparently they can be ESAs, according to Southwest. Currently banned are all other animals, including ferrets, pigs, parrots, monkeys, and, yes, peacocks.
If you’re wondering what will become of Sully, who was trained by America’s VetDogs, the family and American VetDogs has announced that “Sully will be joining the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facility Dog Program.” As Kathleen Curthoys put it in her Military Times article, “Sully will work with other dogs assisting with physical and occupational therapy to wounded soldiers and active-duty personnel during their recovery at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland.”
IMAGES: Many thanks to Military Times, for Evan Sisley‘s photo of Sully by his late master’s casket, to Omni Military Loans for the video about service dogs, and to All 4 for the video about Panda the guide horse.