Grand Rapids Community College has just made some changes to the policy regarding service animals, or animals used to help people with disabilities. These animals are usually dogs that help disabled individuals with tasks that they cannot perform or to help them with everyday life. These service animals range from a guidance dog, to animals that help people who have seizure disorders.
One of the more interesting changes to the policy is the inclusion of miniature horses as a possible service animal. Revised regulations with the Americans with Disabilities Act have added a new provision about miniature horses that have been trained to do work or perform specific tasks.
Dominic Dorsey, the Director of Accessibility at Grand Rapids Community College, helped shed some light on why people would want to use a miniature horse over a dog as a service animal.
“They have become a viable alternative for some due to their intelligence and long life span juxtaposed to that of dogs. They often live between 25 and 35 years as opposed the 8 to 12 year life expectancy of a service dog.
“Miniature horses also boast a 350 degree range of vision, are capable of pulling wheelchairs, entering buses using escalators, riding in taxi cabs, and they can recognize signal lights and stop signs, alert handlers to curbs and generally recognize hazards in the environment,” Dorsey explained.
There are some stipulations to using a miniature horse as a service animal on GRCC’s campus. The new policy states that owners must be in control of their horse, and the horse must also be housebroken. There is also a safety and size issue, which would also be addressed. If the college can reasonably accommodate the miniature horse they are permitted on campus.