Arizona looks to recognise miniatures as service animals

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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

Arizona lawmakers are considering formally recognizing miniature horses as service animals.

The bill seeking the recognition of the animals was introduced by Arizona State Representative Heather Carter. It seeks to change the state’s legal definition of service animals to include miniatures that are trained to perform tasks for disabled people.

Miniature horses are already recognised as service animals by federal regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Restaurateurs have in the past expressed concerns over allowing miniature horses into eateries, but the Guide Horse Foundation says on its website: “Guide Horses are very clean and can be housebroken.”

The website lists a series of pluses for the use of miniature horses as service animals, including a long lifespan, calm nature and great memory.

It says trained horses remained focused on their work and were not easily distracted.

“Horses are not addicted to human attention and normally do not get excited when petted or groomed.”

They are also safety conscious. “Naturally safety oriented, horses are constantly on the lookout for danger. All horses have a natural propensity to guide their master along the safest most efficient route, and demonstrate excellent judgment in obstacle avoidance training.”

The animals also possessed good stamina and can easily travel many miles in a single outing, the foundation said.

“Many guide dog users report problems getting access to public places because their dog is perceived as a pet. Most people do not associate a horse as a pet, and guide horse users report that they are immediately recognized as a working service animal.”

 

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