The Illinois Senate has passed legislation designating miniature horses as recognized service animals. The bill allows equids to accompany disabled students to school and other public venues currently open to service dogs.
As originally introduced, HB3826 amends the Illinois Guide Dog Act to include unspecified animals other than dogs. An amendment added by Illinois State Sen. David Koehler specifically designates miniature horses as recognized service animals in Illinois. On May 15, the Illinois Senate passed HB3826 in its amended version. The bill now moves on to Illinois House for approval.
No one from the Guide Horse Foundation was available to comment on the Illinois measure. The Guide Horse Foundation was established in 1999 as an experimental program to explore miniature horses’ potential as an alternative to guide dogs for the visually impaired. According to information contained on the foundation’s 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 also benefit some visually impaired or blind owners who are allergic to dogs.
Under its rules, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows the use of trained service horses as alternative to dogs in situations where use of the equine would be appropriate. However, the ADA rule does not specifically define miniature horses as service animals.
HB3826 remains pending in the Illinois House of Representatives.
About the Author
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.