A quick post as part of my ongoing follow up to my recent New York Times Magazine story about the use of non-canine service animals and the DOJ’s efforts to ban them: There’s an interesting discussion going on about how limiting service animal species also limits religious freedom …
In the interesting comments thread of this blog post, a woman named
“I am a Muslim, and we believe that a dog’s saliva is unclean. If you
come into contact with a dog’s saliva, you have to wash whatever came
into contact with the saliva seven times before it’s considered “clean”
again. So, I could get a dog, but I’d have a lot of washing to do. Also, since I have many friends who are Muslims, I know that they
wouldn’t come over anymore if there was a dog in the house. And you can
be sure I wouldn’t be invited over, either!
“As if that weren’t enough, I live with my parents and will do so until
I marry, which is common in Muslim culture and society. My mother
wouldn’t allow a dog in the house and is only tolerating Cali [the guide miniature horse] because
she won’t be inside often.
“… my reasons for exploring the possibility of a guide horse are quite
different from those of all the other guide horse users I know about.
I’m hoping that the DOJ decides to keep guide horses in the service
animal definition, as one of my goals is to let the Muslim community
know that a guide horse is an option … I wonder how many of the people who
proposed these amendments are blind or have some other disability.”
I’m surprised this issue wasn’t raised during the DOJ hearings as part of the discussion of whether a species ban was appropriate, and who it would negatively impact. It applies to some Orthodox Jews as well, who interpret the Talmud as forbidding dog ownership (though that is a subject of debate).