POLITICS

Miniature horses -- pet, livestock or service animal?

Heard of seeing-eye dogs? There's an alternative. Miniature horses, while commonly kept on farms, can also be used as "service" animals -- to help the blind and disabled get around. A federal rule requiring businesses to let them inside has stirred concern of lawsuits. The dispute doesn't distract from their cuteness, though. 

Cheryle King

May 24, 2002: Cheryle King, who is blind, grooms Rosie at their home near Ellensburg, Wash. Although Rosie is potty-trained, the small horse wears underwear to protect against any unwanted accidents.

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Rosie

May 24, 2002: Rosie stands in the back seat of Jennye Cahoo's Toyota in Ellensburg, Wash. Rosie is one of a handful seeing eye horses in the country.

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Rosie the guide horse

May 24, 2002: Rosie the guide horse patiently waits in Ellensburg, Wash. while employees and customers marvel at her during a visit with Cheryle King to the telephone company.

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Mona Ramouni with her guide horse

April 9, 2009: Mona Ramouni with her guide horse, Cali, at her side, proofreads material at K&R Braille Transcribing in Lincoln Park, Mich.

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Mona and Kelli Finger

April 9, 2009: Mona Ramouni, left, and her guide horse, Cali, walk by co-worker Kelli Finger and her black Labrador at K&R Braille Transcribing in Lincoln Park, Mich.

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Ann Edie

Jan. 23, 2007: Ann Edie uses her miniature guide horse, Panda, as her lead while exiting a bus during a demonstration of sight lead animals in Albany, N.Y.

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Panda is a miniature guide horse

Jan. 23, 2007: Panda is a miniature guide horse that has helped Edie navigate the world of city streets and country lanes since 2003.

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Dan Shaw

May 30, 2001: Dan Shaw, of Elsworth, Maine, walks down a street in Boston's financial district with the help of a full-grown miniature horse named Cuddles. Shaw, who is visually impaired, and who is a graduate of the Guide Horse Foundation training program in Kittrell, N.C., is among the first to use a guide horse as a visual aid.

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Cuddles

April 15, 2004: Gov. John Baldacci, right, visits with Cuddles, a miniature guide horse for the blind, with owner Dan Shaw, of Ellsworth, Maine, at the Statehouse in Augusta, Maine.

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Janet Burleson

Jan. 9, 2003: Janet Burleson adjusts the Do Not Touch blanket on her American miniature horse Tonto, at a mall in Henderson, N.C. Burleson is training Tonto as a guide animal for a blind woman in Pennsylvania.

AP

minihorse_bighorse.jpg

Shown here is a miniature horse, next to a larger horse. Picture provided by the American Miniature Horse Association -- which does not support the use of miniature horses as service animals. 

Horse Snout

March 15: Rescued miniature horses look out from their corral at MSPCA Nevins-Farm in Methuen, Mass. The horses were voluntarily surrendered from a small farm in West Boylston, Mass., after it became evident that their basic needs were not being met.

AP

Horse Field

March 15: Pam Nixon, assistant manager of the equine program at MSPCA Nevins-Farm in Methuen, Mass., squats close to one of 20 rescued miniature horses in their corral.

AP

Miniature horses -- pet, livestock or service animal?

Heard of seeing-eye dogs? There's an alternative. Miniature horses, while commonly kept on farms, can also be used as "service" animals -- to help the blind and disabled get around. A federal rule requiring businesses to let them inside has stirred concern of lawsuits. The dispute doesn't distract from their cuteness, though. 

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