I'm thrilled to see a rational ruling out of the Department of Justice on the issue of breed restrictions on service dogs. The new ruling, issued last week, will bring a sigh of relief to many people with disabilities whose service dogs happen to fall into breed categories that are banned in some communities.
Specifically, the Department of Justice released a final rule in order to adopt enforceable accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In Subpart A, Section 35.104, “Definitions,” the idea of “Breed Restrictions” on service dogs is addressed:
“The Department does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks.”
The DOJ ruling explains that people with disabilities would be unduly restricted regarding living and travel if deference was given to local breed (or size) restrictions on service dogs, which vary from community to community.
Public safety will not be compromised by the ruling which, intelligently, still allows for exclusion of service animals that actually are a danger to the public: “State and local government entities have the ability to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal´s actual behavior or history--not based on fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave.”
I hope that government bodies everywhere will realize that the case-by-case approach to dealing with dangerous dogs is the only approach that is both effective and humane to all concerned.