Arizona Bill would Recognize Miniature Horses as Service Animals

Miniature Horses would be recognized service animals if a bill now pending in the Arizona House of Representatives becomes law.

Introduced by Arizona State Rep. Heather Carter, HB 2401 would amend the state's statutory definition of service animals to specifically include Miniature Horses "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability." Currently state law defines service animals as "dogs or other animals" but does not specifically recognize Miniature Horses as service animals. On Feb. 13, the Arizona House of Representatives' Health Committee passed HB 2401 unanimously.

According to the Guide Horse Foundation website, miniature equines are suited to roles as service animals due to their longer lifespan, good manners, stamina, and excellent vision. So-called guide horses can also benefit disabled owners who have allergies to dogs, the foundation website says. The Guide Horse Foundation was established in 1999 to explore Miniature Horses' potential as an alternative to guide dogs for the visually impaired. No one from the Guide Horse Foundation was available to comment on the legislation.

HB 2401 now moves on to the full Arizona House for approval. If passed, the measure would align Arizona state law with federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Current ADA rules allow the use of trained service horses instead of dogs in appropriate situations. However, current federal regulations do not specifically define Miniature Horses as service animals.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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