Some other species of animals are used as assistance/service animals. Primates are sometimes used for their greater manual dexterity, for example. In recent years, prompted in large part by a rule change by the U.S. Department of Transportation grouping emotional support animals in with service animals, many unexpected species have turned up as "service animals."
According to the Seattle Times, the U.S. Department of Justice is planning to put restrictions on just what species can be used for service work.
"Under this definition, monkeys would not qualify as service animals. The proposed rules also would exclude snakes and other reptiles; amphibians; rabbits, ferrets and rodents; and farm animals such as horses, pigs and goats."
This is not an arbitrary decision based on the social acceptability of various species. There are some very troubling concerns about the safety of people with disabilities relying upon some of these animals for assistance.
So called "guide horses," for example, though they have garnered much attention in the press are not considered safe by the National Federation of the Blind, by guide users, or by miniature horse breeders. The NFB has even gone so far as to pass a resolution in opposition to the use of guide horses.
While people generally think of Helping Hands when they think of primate helpers, that isn't always what they actually see. In Missouri a woman claiming a monkey as an assistance animal was barred from restaurants after it was discovered the monkey wasn't actually trained to do anything and that she was feeding it at a buffet. A man claimed he needed the coolness from his snake to alieviate muscle pain. Another man claimed he needed his parrot to "talk him down" when he became enraged.
Let's not forget the most infamous case of all: when pigs fly.
Here are a few more classics:
Monkey Meets Little Boy At Grocery Store; Problems Ensue
parrot as service animal
Student Takes Action When University Won't Allow Ferret and Another supposed "service animal" someone wants to take to school...
Pop! goes the weasel argument
There's A Rat In The Audience (And It's Not the Critic)
My service animal is a SNAKE! (scroll down to the bottom)
A 60-day public comment period on the proposed changes starts today, Tuesday, June 17, 2008.
NOTE: fix dead link this page "When Pigs Fly"