Your Seeing-Eye Ferret Will Have to Wait at the Door, Sir


Under regulations proposed by the Bush administration, The New York Times reports, "the use of monkeys as 'service animals' for people with disabilities…would be forbidden." Well, not quite. The regulations would narrow the range of helper animals that businesses open to the public are required to allow on their property under the Americans With Disabilities Act:

When the existing rules were adopted in the early 1990s, the Justice Department said, few people anticipated the current trend toward "the use of wild, exotic or unusual species" as service animals.

The proposed rules define a service animal as "any dog or other common domestic animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks" for a person with a physical or mental disability.

Under this definition, the administration says, monkeys could not qualify as service animals, nor would reptiles; amphibians; rabbits, ferrets and rodents; or most farm animals.

Isn't a ferret or a hamster a "common domestic animal"? What about parrots or cats, which are now more common than dogs? Granted, these are hard questions. But if the federal government did not decide whether to allow pot-bellied pigs in your restaurant, who would?