By Minh N. Vu
Must restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and other public accommodations allow individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by miniature horses that perform work or tasks related to their disabilities? In new ADA Title III regulations published on September 15, 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said yes, subject to a few limitations. According to DOJ, service miniature horses are an alterative to for people allergic to dogs, they live longer, and can be housebroken just like a dog. Although the miniature horse rule usually surprises people when they first learn about it, it went into effect on March 15, 2011 without much controversy. Earlier this year, miniature horses used as service animals received media attention after a disabled plaintiff sued two California retail stores that allegedly would not let him in with his miniature horse.
On May 10, 2012, the House passed an amendment to an appropriations bill (H.R. 5326) that bars the use of appropriated funds to implement the miniature horse rule. It is unclear if the amendment will become law but we will certainly let you know as soon as we hear. In the meantime, you can read more about the amendment from its author, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and DisabilityLaw blogger reaction here.