Snakes, St. Bernards, and Other Would-Be Service Animals

So, a man with a miniature pony walks into a bar. . . Sound like the beginning of a joke?  In any public place, it is no joke, and you might be liable for discrimination if you ask the individual to leave.  This is because dogs and miniature horses may qualify as service animals if they have been trained to perform a specific task related to an individual’s disability. Under Massachusetts law, only a dog qualifies as a service animal, and its owner must have a sensory or physical disability.  Federal law is broader.  It permits miniature horses to qualify as service animals, and their owner may have any kind of disability, including a psychiatric disability.  However, even under federal law, the animal must be “trained to perform a specific task.”  If the animal’s sole function is to provide emotional support and comfort to the disabled individual, it does not qualify as a service animal.  Such “emotional support” animals need not be permitted in public places, with the exception of planes and the common areas of housing developments.  How can you tell if the dog or miniature horse is a service animal?  In some cases, it may be obvious, and...