National Park Service updates service animals rule

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Public comment sought online through June 17

The National Park Service invites public comment on a proposed rule to revise regulations governing service animals in national parks.

Last amended in 1983, federal statutes governing accessibility for persons with disabilities, as well as the use of service animals, have changed significantly.

Although federal agencies are not governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the park service's policy is to align its regulations with the act and make National Park Service facilities, programs and services accessible to and usable by as many people as possible.

The proposed rule would define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities. The work or tasks a service animal is trained to perform must be directly related to the person's disability. Other species of animals would not be considered service animals, but park superintendents would have the authority to allow the use of miniature horses by individuals with disabilities when appropriate, depending on the type, size and weight of the horse.

The proposed rule would differentiate service animals from pets, domestic animals, feral animals, livestock and pack animals and would describe the circumstances under which service animals would be allowed in a park area.

Due to the serious potential for disease transmission between domestic animals and wildlife, park superintendents could require proof of vaccination against diseases transmissible to wildlife from service animals.

The proposed rule is available for review, and the National Park Service will accept public comment on the rule through June 17, through the Federal Rulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov.

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