A bill was filed this week for primates to be allowed as service animals in Kentucky. The sponsor, Sen. John Schickel, said he filed the bill on behalf of a Kentucky family who is looking to use a service monkey to assist a girl who was paralyzed head down after a car accident. He is friends with the father and wants to help. He acknowledges that the bill draws criticisms but he is more interested in seeing where the discussion would take them.
Service monkey bill
On the other hand, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Marraccini said that primates have not been allowed in Kentucky since Gov. Paul Patton issued an executive order in 2003. This was done in response to a suspected outbreak of monkey pox. Aside from the disease scare, there have been cases too, added Marraccini, wherein monkeys attacked their owners.
Service-animal bill in Kentucky
Sen. Schickel is not making up stories when he talked about the service animal bill. We do have an existing one called Americans with Disabilities Act, but so far the U.S. Justice Department guidelines limit it to dogs and housebroken miniature horses. In fact, at the University of Kentucky, an organization called Wildcat Service Dogs has students training dogs to become service animals. These dogs are trained to help the disabled deal with several problems such as limited movements and children with autism.
Service animal confusion
There has been a lot of confusion about service animals. There are people who are curious about how to make their pets a service animal. Meanwhile, some establishments or private individuals refuse to honor a service-animal status especially without a dog tag indicating such. As a result, some businesses take advantage of the situation and sell forms of identification or certification without proper knowledge. Service animals are different from the pet dogs we have at home.
What certifies a service animal?
The owner has to have a documented disability. The dog must be trained properly to perform tasks that in turn will help their owner move easier or alleviate their disability. The dog should be put on a leash and should not show signs of aggression. Unfortunately, a dog simply making us happy doesn’t qualify them as a service animal. To add to that, any violation we make is subject to penalties such as fines and even imprisonment.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I understand that Sen. John Schickel is sincere in his kind intentions. When someone is severely injured in an accident, it is important that the accident victim has a chance of living a normal life. If this bill can help someone move toward this, I am all for it. I am moved by his inspiration to help a paralyzed girl. However, I am also concerned about the dangers this may cause both the monkey and its owner. How about you? As a Kentucky resident, what do you think about this bill filed by Sen. Schickel?