More people are bringing their animals with them -- into stores, onto planes. Some are service animals, highly trained, assisting with such tasks as pulling a wheelchair or retrieving medicine. They also assist people who are blind or experiencing seizures. These animals are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act and allowed in most public places. Emotional support animals are sometimes prescribed to a person with a disabling mental illness but they do not have the same legal protections. And there are also therapy pets. We'll find out what these various animals do, where they're allowed -- and why conflicts may arise.
- Sabrina Estabrook-Russett, veterinarian and owner of Court Street Veterinary Hospital in Keene.
- Lynne Clay, Managing Attorney at the Disability Rights Center of N.H.
- Lindsay Hamrick, N.H. State Director for The Humane Society of the United States. She is chair of the N.H. Disaster Animal Response Team and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.
- Randy Pierce, President of 2020 Vision Quest, which raises money for services for the blind, including training of guide dogs. Pierce, who lost his sight at the age of 22 after being stricken with a neurological disease, is also a motivational speaker. He has achieved all sorts of athletic feats, including hiking all 48 of N.H.'s 4,000 foot mountains, accompanied by his dog Quinn.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section, answers frequently asked questions about service animals and the ADA.
More than 20 states have recently tightened laws addressing pet owners who falsely claim their animals are service or support animals.
Hal Herzog, professor emeristus of psychology, writes in Psychology Today that emotional support animals have put therapists in a difficult situation.
In this Outside story, Randy Pierce describes an encounter on a plane between his service dog and another dog; Pierce says his dog was harrassed by the other dog during the entire flight. The Air Carrier Access Act recognizes emotional support animals in addition to service animals, and this has caused some conflicts.