The Public School Board of Baltimore, Maryland approved new guidelines regarding the use of service animals in district schools earlier this week.
The policy states that students, employees and visitors with disabilities must be permitted access to district property with their service animals – including mini horses “under certain conditions.”
While service dogs have become widely accepted in schools across the country, miniature horses are gaining popularity as a less conventional choice.
Alison Stonecypher, operations director for the American Miniature Horse Association, says that minis are an excellent choice for children in need of service animals due to their “very loving and loyal personalities.” They also have a longer life expectancy than dogs, and may be seen as less intimidating.
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Board determined that minis will be permitted on district property as long as they are smaller than 34-inches-tall, housebroken, and trained to obey their handler.
According to the policy, district officials must consider if the “miniature horse’s presence in the specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.”
At this point in time, the Baltimore School District does not have any students using service animals be it dogs or horses. Should a service horse be approved as a student’s therapy animal, the school would be responsible for ensuring it has a suitable rest place, can relieve itself, and does not trigger allergic reactions.
H/T to The Baltimore Sun