West and I were out an about a few days ago. We went to the library, the grocery store and then to JoAnn Fabric where an employee enthusiastically greeted me. She said she was hoping I would come in because she had a question about service animals. She asked if monkeys could be service animals. She asked this because a customer had come in with not one, but two monkeys and said they were her service animals. Oh my!
No. Here in the US, monkeys are not recognized as service animals. The law allows for only dogs and miniature horses to be service animals. It was wrong for someone to misrepresent her monkeys as service animals. It is also illegal and disrespectful to people with disabilities.
Why the confusion? Well, at one time monkeys were considered for service animals. They are smart, have dexterity and strength and are an appropriate size. However, monkeys are messy and generally speaking do not have the personality to be a service animal. Another thing that is causing confusion are sites that promote registering your pet at either a service animal or an ESA, Emotional Support Animal. Businesses that sell equipment and ID’s for animals are really clouding the issues. I find these offensive as there is no official registration and ID’s are NOT necessary. By promoting the use of ID’s, there may well be an impression of ID’s being required.
What can be done? If you are an employee, speak to your supervisor. If you are the supervisor or the business owner or someone who just wants to clearly understand the laws, you can visit this site:
http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm (this page has NOT been updated since the 2011 amendment defining service animals as only dogs or miniature horses, see above link)
You may call the U.S. Department of Justice’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).
If you would like to learn more about service dogs, seek out a service dog organization in your area. I am a volunteer with Canine Companions for Independence. We frequently do demonstrations to educate people about how service dogs perform tasks for people with disabilities. While we do not provide legal advice, we share our knowledge and give a good understanding of what to expect from a highly skilled service dog.
All the Best,