As part of its Feb. 16 agenda, the Wright County Board of Commissioners approved almost 20 items on its Consent Agenda – items that are approved without discussion. Among them was what appeared to be a housecleaning item that wasn’t part of the Wright County Personnel Handbook – a policy dealing with employees who may use a service animal.
Recently, Administration staff conducted a review of the county’s personnel policies and determined Wright County should have a policy that addresses service animals (almost always dogs) to bring the county in compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Like many policy statements, new Section 517 “Service Animals in County Buildings” outlines the policy, definitions, enforcement procedures and violations.
The policy makes clear that no animals are allowed in county buildings (with the exception of the Wright County Fairgrounds) unless they are service animals.
Only two animals are deemed acceptable as service animals – dogs and miniature horses.
In its explanation, the definition of service animals from state and federal policies states, “A miniature horse may also qualify as a service animal under certain conditions set forth below. All other species of animal, wild or domestic, trained or untrained, do not qualify as service animals.”
Five qualifiers were stated that would allow a miniature horse to qualify as a service animal: 1. A miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability; 2. The public facility can accommodate the miniature horse accounting for its type, size and weight; 3. The handler maintains sufficient control of the miniature horse; 4. The miniature horse is housebroken; 5. The presence of the miniature horse does not compromise legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operations.
While nobody should expect to enter a Wright County facility any time soon and see someone walking down the halls accompanied by Li'l Sebastian, in the words of movie character Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
To see the entire policy, click here: https://www.co.wright.mn.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/9052?fileID=19118