Lawmaker wants miniatures kept out of restaurants

Miniature guide horse Cuddles in training. © Todd Sumlin, Charlotte Observer / The Guide Horse Foundation
Miniature guide horse Cuddles in training. © Todd Sumlin, Charlotte Observer / The Guide Horse Foundation

A Utah politican is unhappy that federal recognition of miniature horses to help the disabled in the US opens up restaurants to lawsuits if they refuse them entry.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wants to change the law that came into effect on March 15, to keep miniatures out of restaurants.

Miniature horses are now recognised alongside guide dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The act recognises trained miniature horses as alternatives to dogs, subject to some limitations. The miniatures must be housebroken and under the owner’s control.

The rules stop short of putting miniatures in quite the same league as guide dogs to allow flexibility in situations where using a horse would be inappropriate.

Miniatures horses can be used only in facilities where their size does not create issues, and where legitimate safety requirements are not compromised.

Chaffetz says his proposed amendment would let restaurants ban horses without fear of a lawsuit.

He argued a miniature horse could not be toilet-trained to the same degree as a dog.

In a comment piece published last month, Chaffetz said the regulation allowing miniatures as service animals joins a long list of rules with which small businesses must comply.

He said some 1.65 million lawsuits were filed each year over enforcement of federal regulations, citing the findings of  Berkeley law professor Sean Farhang, author of “The Litigation State”.

“Estimates by the Competitive Enterprise Institute suggest that regulation cost the economy $US1.75 trillion in 2008. That’s Trillion with a T. If you were to spend $US1 million a day every day, it would take you nearly 3000 years just to get to $US1 trillion,” Chaffetz said.

“That’s a massive drag on the US economy. With an average of nine new rules appearing in the Federal Register every day, small businesses with fewer resources struggle to keep up with an ever-changing regulatory environment.”

He continued: “If a person wishes to bring a horse into an establishment, the request should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis – not through a federal mandate.

“Ironically, even American Miniature Horse Association President Harry Elder does not condone the use of the animals as a replacement for guide dogs. ‘The American Miniature Horse can be readily trained to be lead or driven,’ he told Fox News, ‘but, in most cases, it would not make a suitable replacement for an animal such as a guide dog’.”


» Earlier article: Miniature horses for the blind … to guide or not to guide?


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