Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Are Goats and Pigs Considered Service Animals?

February 14, 2017, 9:13 AM HST
* Updated March 6, 1:58 PM
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Maui Now stock photo. Feb. 2017.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Aloha Mayor,

Q. The other day when I was shopping at a local big-box store, someone brought in two supposedly “service animals” that were actually a baby goat and a potbelly pig.

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What are the guidelines that regulate these kinds of animals?

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Anyone can order a vest online and I’ve seen dozens of fake service animals over the years, including a cat, a miniature poodle, a chihuahua and a poorly trained large mutt on a string sniffing at things in the food section.

When I asked a manager about this, they were too afraid to question the pet owners because they didn’t want to violate anyone’s rights.

What exactly is a service animal, and what kind of training are they supposed to receive?

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A. There has definitely been a lot of confusion on this topic, so I will refer to the guidelines offered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The tasks must be directly related to the person’s disability, such as a dog that is trained to alert a diabetic person when their blood sugar reaches high or low levels.

A person with epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure, then help the person remain safe during the seizure.

However, emotional support, therapy, comfort or companion animals such as those you mentioned in the store are not considered service animals under the ADA.

Documentation of training is not required for service animals; however, the animal must be clean and not have a foul odor, and must not urinate or defecate in inappropriate locations. It also must exhibit standards of behavior such as not making unsolicited contact with members of the general public; not showing aggression toward people or other animals; not soliciting or stealing food or other items from the general public; obeying the commands of its handler; trained to urinate or defecate on command; remaining calmly and quietly on a harness, leash or other tether; and other behaviors.

For more information and FAQs about service animals, go online.

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