The Americans with Disabilities Act Is Likely to be Changed to Exclude a Man’s Use of His Snake as a Service Animal

Photo Credit:  WWarby

Photo Credit: WWarby

Last year, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) proposed frightful regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  They will likely go into effect by the end of this year.   These regulations, if enacted, will greatly limit the type of animal that the disabled can use in public spaces.

As profiled in the Seattle Times, Daniel Greene is one individual likely to be affected under the new regulations.  Mr. Greene relies on his five-foot-long boa constrictor, Redrock, to warn him of oncoming seizures.  Mr. Greene believes that Redrock can sense a change in body temperature shortly before a seizure and then can alert Mr. Greene by “hugging” his neck. ”  As a service snake, Redrock is currently protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  But if DOJ’s new rules go into effect, Redrock will lose his protected status, which allows him to accompany Mr. Greene into public places such as stores, restaurants, and theaters.

Siouxsie says let the man use his snake.  Redrock isn’t hurting anyone.  What is the big deal?  Siouxsie gently reminds everyone that it was not so long ago that people complained about the use of canines as service animals.

Sadly, Mr. Greene and his snake are not alone.  There are many people with a wide range of disabilities that would be  impacted by these overly-restrictive regulations.

The proposed regulations are overbroad and ill-conceived.  They limit the definition of  service animal to  “a dog or other common domestic animal”  and exclude “wild animals (including nonhuman primates born in captivity), reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including any breed of horse, miniature horse, pony, pig, or goat), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents.”

These changes are absolutely horrid.

What can you do?  Siouxsie says e-mail Attorney General of the United States — Mr. Eric Holder.  Tell him not to adopt such sweeping changes to the ADA.  AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

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~ by siouxsielaw on October 21, 2009.

4 Responses to “The Americans with Disabilities Act Is Likely to be Changed to Exclude a Man’s Use of His Snake as a Service Animal”

  1. I hope and pray that the responsible party (Congress) will NOT start chewing away at the rights (and needs) of the disabled. Aren’t we deprived enough, just being disabled? Do we ALL have to turn into snakes and crawl on our bellies just to be permitted to live our lives as we please–as ALL Americans are permitted by the Constitution and Bill of Rights to do?

    I have been through absolute hell in California regarding my extremely well-trained, well-behaved, marvelous, hard-working Service Dog, Savannah. Places that OUGHT to know better: e.g., EASTER SEALS, which serves DISABLED People for heaven’s sakes!; LOAVES AND FISHES, which serves the disadvantaged, the poor, the homeless and the hungry; CITY HALL of the City of Sacrramento itself! (I find this unreal); numerous housing and dining establishments (for which I make extreme allowances, given the mentality of most of them).

    It makes me furious, and it is extremely humiliating! Not only have I worked very hard to make my beautiful, sweet and eager dog a super service dog–SHE has worked her furry little fanny off to please me, to do what I ask her to do, and she really knows what her job is. It puts her down as well as me–perhaps even more than me.

    Just yesterday, I had a horrible experience at LOAVES AND FISHES, that caused me to end up in sobs and tears, physically sick and emotionally incapable of driving for nearly an hour. My eyes were still swollen four hours later from the crying over the insults and anger (because I got upset and angry).

    Easter Seals+Loaves and Fishes+City Hall = massive stupidity incapable of being excused because of ignorance of the law.

    I am heartbroken–for myself, for my wonderful service dog, and for all the other disabled people who are mistreated but who don’t know how to even start defending themselves. Life is already bad enough; I hope Congress has the sense not to make it worse.

  2. Who knew that law, goth, and black humor could go hand in hand? I’m loving this blog so far!

    I agree: If Redrock the snake really can detect oncoming seizures, then it seems that the snake fits the definition of a “service animal” and Daniel Greene should be entitled to carry it with him wherever the public is invited.

    The problem is that there are a lot of skeptics who simply cannot believe that a snake, pig, or miniature horse could be a service animal. The skeptics stick to the traditional concept of “service animals”: dogs. A second problem is proving that a particular animal is, in fact, a “service animal.” If the animal cannot perform a particular task “on demand,” then people naturally start scratching their heads, skeptical that the animal they see in front of them is in fact a “service animal.”

    It really is quite amazing how animals can be trained to perform tasks we never imagined years ago. They can be trained to assist people with mobility issues, autism, diabetes, seizures, and peanut allergies. But some animals may be better suited to perform certain tasks than others.

    Hopefully, the folks at the DOJ will carefully and objectively look at the various ways in which a variety of animals have assisted people with disabilities. If the DOJ fails to do that, many people with disabilities are at risk of losing their independence.

    • Mr. Stoloff, thanks for your comment. It made Siouxsie’s week. You brought a little bit of warmth to Siouxsie’s dark heart. Let us hope the DOJ revisits this and gets it right.

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