DOJ's Proposed Ban of Non-canine Service Animals Is Bad News for Disabled Muslims

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 Mona Ramouni explains that she is currently in the process of having a miniature horse trained as her guide because her religious faith makes it so she can't use a guide dog.  Here's an excerpt of her comments:

"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). 

More like this

"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.

Oooow, Woo. The discussion wasn't complicated enough, let's introduce the supernatural. A valid consideration on your part, Skloot, but, please, Ms. Ramouni, if this is how your friends and family are going to treat you because of a dog, it's not the dog that needs doing away with.

I hate dog-spit, but not enough to blunder about without guidance if I was blind.

This moderated post thing isn't working so well for me.

The free-for-all-internet-Wild-West-post-comments-on-your-blog seems to be OK so far, why did you restrict?

My impression: the whole point here is to go round and round after the post. Yah, there's crap, but you've gotten mostly teh good poop.

Do Typepad if you must.

@Kamaka: I actually didn't mean to turn on the MT registration ... was tinkering around with the settings trying to figure out the options for dealing with spam. It's off now. Depending on how things go in the future I may do some kind of site registration, but hopefully that won't be necessary.

[offensive and discriminatory comment deleted]

Leaving aside the religious issue and any (real or implied) criticism of its validity:

There's a perfectly good, purely physiological reason not to impose a dogs-only regulation. What if (Ceiling Cat forbid) Malia Obama needed a guide animal? We all know she loves dogs, but she's also allergic to them. Put simply, dog-allergic people need other options.

To impose a dogs-only restriction on account of some people's fussiness is just plain WRONG. People who are too fussy and intolerant to put up with service animals can bleeping take themselves elsewhere or stay home and stop interfering with the independence those animals give to so many people. I sincerely hope the DOJ wakes up and smells its own bull$#!+ before thousands of people with disabilities end up falling on their faces in it.

By The Mad LOLSci… (not verified) on 17 Jan 2009 #permalink

You really can't believe a thing Muslims say.

All the religionists think, say and do irrational stuff. The muslims hardly need singling out.

Why shouldn't be able to take a ferret (in a cage) on a city bus, even if it's not a service animal? In Poland I frequently have transported my ferret on inter-city trains.

By Roman Werpachowski (not verified) on 18 Jan 2009 #permalink

hmmmm the belief that dog saliva is unclean is not based on fact. human saliva will always infect you if you are bitten but not a dog bite. their saliva is actually cleaner than humans and can heal a cut.

cats on the other hand have some nasty germs in their mouths. so beliefs really should be based on fact, not just made up.

I am just curious if this was written in the Koran? I thought it was only pigs that they thought was unclean. What happens if the miniature horse licks it cleaner than the dog?