As of March 15, the Americans With Diabilities Act will only recognize dogs and some miniature horses as service animals, The Wall Street Journal reports. Advocated for the disabled actually lobbied the Department of Justice to narrow the definition of service animals because the number of people abusing the system is creating a backlash. According to a DOJ spokeswoman the new rules aim to "stop erosion of the public's trust, which has resulted in reduced access for many individuals with disabilities who use trained service animals that adhere to high behavioral standards."
Apparently, people who once confined their abuse of the Americans With Disabilities Act to parking in handicapped spots are now passing off their pets and service animals. And they're pretty shameless too. A woman named Rhonda Kimmel, who is not disabled, boasts to the Wall Street Journal that she can take her dog everywhere with her because she bought him a vest online that says, "Therapy Dog Maxx" and people, "know they are not supposed to ask."
While these impostors seem to think this is a victimless crime, it's now harder for people with real service animals to fly. In an effort to crack down on people who just don't want to ship their dog as cargo, the Department of Transportation has introduced new rules requiring people with psychiatric or emotional-support animals to disclose the nature of their illness to the airline 48 hours before departure. Joan Esnayra, president of the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, says, "We are forced to disclose we are mentally ill in order to fly. It's un-American."
One of the people affected by the new crack down on service animals is Cosmie Silfa, who says his iguana helps him stay sober and prevents depression. Silfa explains his relationship with "Skippy" in this video:
Silfa has a letter from his psychiatrist that says Skippy "helps him to maintain a stable mood," but under the new law, the iguana won't be allowed to stay by his side. That is, unless Rhonda Kimmel knows where he can buy a convincing dog costume.
Leapin' Lizards! Service Animals Are Multiplying Like Doggone Rabbits [WSJ]