Is A Snake A Service Animal?

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Is A Snake A Service Animal?

Man in Missouri claimed a snake around his neck was his service animal.

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You’ve probably already read the story of a man in Missouri who brought his pet snake into a restaurant and claimed it was his service animal that helps him with his depression. And you’ve probably seen the news interview with the patrons who confronted the man about having a snake inside a restaurant, and then decided to leave because they were apparently afraid of the snake (at least the mother was). The American with Disabilities Act states that a service animal is a dog or other trained animal that provides assistance. So, was it appropriate for the man to be in a restaurant with a snake around his neck, claiming it was his service animal when the ADA says only dogs or other trained animals can serve as a service animal?

From the ADA website

What is a service animal?


A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.
  • A service animal is not a pet.

The restaurant owner didn’t want to question the man's rights, but an ADA spokeswoman told KY3-TV that the patrons could have called 911 over the incident. 

Did the guy with the snake go too far bringing his reptile into the restaurant or were the women being too nosy injecting their displeasure with the man and his snake in the restaurant?