Disabled Girl Fights to Keep Miniature Horse as a "Service Horse" at a City Home
Can a disabled teenager keep a miniature horse in an urban location as a “service horse”? That was the issue in an interesting lawsuit that was decided last year by a federal appellate court in Ohio.
At issue was a Blue Ash, Ohio city ordinance banning horses from residential property. Allegedly acting in response to complaints from neighbors about unsanitary conditions and offensive odors created by the horse, the city wanted residents (Anderson and her daughter) to remove a miniature horse from their property, and it brought criminal charges against Anderson. She and her daughter fought back.
The residents sued the city in Federal Court arguing that it intentionally discriminated because of Anderson’s daughter’s disabilities. They explained that the miniature horse was a "service animal" because it helped the teenager (who suffers from several disabilities including autism, seizures, chronic lung disease, developmental delay, and others) to walk and balance herself. Two laws, they explained, entitled the teenager to keep the horse as a service animal: the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101, et seq, and the Fair Housing Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.
Although the city maintained that the horse was a farm animal, not a service animal, the appellate court noted that miniature horses have, at times, been used to help people with disabilities. They can be trained to provide services; they can be housebroken; they can even be taken on trains and commercial flights. Their life spans are significantly longer – at least 25 years for a service horse as compared to about 7 for a service dog.
Ruling for the city, the trial judge ordered the miniature horse removed, but the resident/horse owners appealed. The federal appellate court reversed the trial judge and ordered a new hearing. It said: “While protecting public health and property values are central to the City’s interests, [the resident] has produced evidence that the presence of one miniature horse at her house will not create unsanitary conditions or devalue her neighbors’ property, supported not only by her own testimony but by signed letters of support from her current neighbors. She also testified that she has retained a service to clean up animal waste, and ensure that unsanitary conditions will not reappear.”
Because the appellate court was unable to determine whether the residents' “requested accommodation was reasonable and necessary to afford her and [her daughter] an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling,” it remanded the case back to the trial court for another trial on the issue of whether the city had unfairly discriminated against the teenager.
Julie Fershtman is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.View All Posts by Author ›
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Julie Fershtman, author of our popular and prolific Equine Law Blog, was interviewed by the State Bar of Michigan. The interview, which called Fershtman "Lawyer-Blogger," discussed our Equine Law Blog. We truly believe that this blog is the nation's most active blog serving the equine industry on equine law topics, and we thank you for visiting it. Read more here.
Julie Fershtman’s Recent and Upcoming Equine Law Speaking Engagements Include:
National Conference on Equine Law in Louisville, Kentucky on April 29, 2020. Topic will be on Waivers/Releases of Liability Involving Minor Participants.
U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado on December 10, 2019. Topic will be on Equine Liability.
IRMI Emmett J. Vaughan Agribusiness Conference (“AgriCon”) in Sacramento, CA (April 2019), and Richmond, VA (June 2019) and in Des Moines, IA (September 2019), on topics of “Equine Activity Liability Acts” and “Equine Mortality Insurance Disputes.”
National Conference on Equine Law in May 2019 in Lexington, KY, on the topic of “Equine Activity Liability Act Updates” and liabilities involving hosting of equine clinics.
Agricultural Claims Conference in Kansas City, MO, in March 2019 on topics of “Loose Livestock Liabilities.”
2018 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, on “Equine Mortality Coverage and Disputes.”
November 2018, American Horse Council webinar on “Equine Liability.”
Honors & Recognitions
Equine lawyer, Julie Fershtman, has received these prestigious equine industry awards from respected equine organizations:
"Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award" - American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Law Section Animal Law Committee
"Distinguished Service Award" - American Youth Horse Council
"Industry Service Award" - Michigan Equine Partnership
"Catalyst Award"- Michigan Horse Council
"Outstanding Achievement Award" - American Riding Instructors Association
"Partner in Safety Award" - American Riding Instructors Association
"Associate Service Award" - United Professional Horseman's Association
"National Partnership in Safety" Award" - Certified Horsemanship Association
What our Equine Law Services can Provide
Handling breach of contract, fraud/ misrepresentation, commercial code, and other claims involving equine-related transactions including purchases/sales, leases, mare leases/foal transfers, and partnerships.
Litigating disputes in court or through alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, mediation, facilitation).
Defending equine/farm/equestrian industry professionals, businesses, and associations in personal injury claims and lawsuits.
Drafting and negotiating contracts for boarding, training, sales, waivers/releases, leases, and numerous other equine-related transactions.
Representing and advising insurers on coverage and policy language as well as litigation;
Advising equine industry clubs and associations regarding management, rules, bylaws, disputes, and regulations.
Representing some of the equine industry's top trainers, competitors, stables, and associations.
Counseling industry professionals, stable managers, and individual horse owners.
THE NATION'S MOST SOUGHT-AFTER EQUINE LAW SPEAKER
Did you know Julie Fershtman has spoken at the American Horse Council Annual Meeting, Equine Affaire, Midwest Horse Fair, Equitana USA, US Dressage Federation Annual Meeting, North American Riding for the Handicapped (now PATH International) Annual Meeting, American Morgan Horse Association Annual Meeting, American Paint Horse Association Annual Meeting, US Pony Clubs, Inc.'s Annual Meeting, All-American Quarter Horse Congress, American Youth Horse Council Annual Meeting, American Riding Instructors Association Annual Meeting, CHA Annual Meeting, and numerous others? Consider signing her up for your convention. Contact Julie.
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