Pet Legal

Ask Lawyer Lloyd

posted May 15th, 2012 by
  • Share

by Lloyd Benedict

Dear Lawyer Lloyd:

My daughter and I were at a friend’s house when she, my 8-year-old daugh­ter, was severely bitten in the face by my friend’s dog. I have known this per­son for many years as we are close friends. During that time, she has had a few different dogs, and they have all been good, well-behaved dogs. How­ever, she had recently adopted a new dog.We had been around her new dog on many occasions, and it never dis­played any bad behavior. In fact, her dog was a very sweet-natured, playful, happy dog and never gave rise for any concern.

A couple of months ago, my friend and I decided to go shopping, and my daughter stayed with her daughters, along with my friend’s grandmother who lived there as well. About an hour later, I received a very disturbing phone call from the grandmother who in­formed me that my daughter had been playing with the dog in their backyard and had been bitten by the dog, but it did not look too bad. That was an un­derstatement!

My daughter underwent reconstruc­tive surgery on her ear and cheek, and I now have $12,000 in medical bills. I have been told by my friend’s homeowner’s insurance company that her policy does not cover injuries sustained from ani­mals. I do not have that kind of money or health insurance to cover these bills. My friend feels horrible for my daughter and has no real money to pay toward the medical bills either. I have talked with a few attorneys who have all in­formed me that my friend is 100 per­cent responsible. However, if there is no insurance, I would not likely get the medical bills paid from my friend (if she, also, has no money). I really do not wish to sue my friend, as I feel she did not really do anything wrong. Any thoughts for a resolution?

Sincerely,

Loyal to a Fault, Tulsa

Dear Loyal:

I am so sorry to hear about this un­fortunate incident, and my heart goes out to your daughter. I also agree with what the other attorneys have told you. I have represented many folks for dog bite injuries, and there are a few cases that are simply not cov­ered by insurance. The uninsured cases seem to be more difficult to recover damages; however, recovering through garnishment can be effective in certain cases. But if I understand correctly, you do not wish to go that route, as garnishment is an adverse lawsuit.

One possible solution you may wish to consider is what I recommended to a person who recently called me. The caller’s dog bite case had almost the same facts as yours, except the dog was owned by her sister. The caller was adamant that she did not want to file a lawsuit against her sister and was looking for another alternative. After learning that her sister was, in fact, the homeowner and that her insurance did not cover the incident, I inquired as to whether the sister would be willing to:

1. Sign an agreement with the hos­pital and doctors that she would accept 100 percent responsibility for the medical bills and make pay­ment arrangements (assuming the hospital and doctors agree as well).And/Or

2. Allow her to place a Jointly Agreed Judgment Lien against her house, so when, and if, the sister’s house sells, then she would be paid for her dam­ages from the remaining equity in the home (if any). If agreed, that Judg­ment could also be for more than just the medical bills, such as pain and suffering, etc… And, although, tech­nically, getting this Judgment is a lawsuit, if the matter is jointly agreed, then it should be a quick and inex­pensive process.

I never heard back from the caller again, so I am not certain how the mat­ter worked out, but I do not see why these options would not work for you in light of the fact that you do not wish to pursue the matter through other legal means.

Best Regards, Lloyd

Lawyer Lloyd

posted March 15th, 2012 by
  • Share

by Lloyd Benedict

Dear Lawyer Lloyd:

 Can I call 911 for my pet? For instance, what if my dog swallows a tennis ball, but it gets stuck in his throat and I panic. Can I call 911, or would I be “in trouble” for using that service for a pet? What would be the best thing to do

I saw a story on television years ago about this very thing and the girl threw the dog in the car and was hysterically driving to the animal E.R., but came upon a fire station and ran in screaming. The firemen jumped in to help and did the Heimlich on the dog, and it survived.

Thank you,

JoAnne from Tulsa

Dear JoAnne:

 The technical legal answer to your question is “No way, Jose.” 911 is for emergencies that require response from police, fire, or emergency medical services for humans. In other words, no pet medical emergencies will be responded to by 911. According to the City of Tulsa website, persons should only call 9-1-1 to report a crime, fire, heart attack, other serious medical condition or injury, or any situation requiring the IMMEDIATE response of a FIRE TRUCK, AMBULANCE or LAW ENFORCEMENT VEHICLE. The site also points out that nearly half of the 2,000 calls answered daily by the 911 Center aren’t even for emergencies.

Some examples of non-emergency calls include: injured animals, dead animal pick-up, leash laws, legal questions, obtaining official police reports, jail-related questions, status of police investigations and changing smoke detector batteries, to name just a few.

However, there should be no confusion that 911 will absolutely respond to certain emergencies where animals are involved. For example, 911 will dispatch emergency responders for vicious dogs or a person being bitten or attacked, or otherwise injured by an animal. Another example where 911 would respond is when animals are running loose and are creating, or are about to create, a traffic hazard, along with calls involving animal cruelty in progress.

I have also discovered that the City of Tulsa appears to contradict itself on this issue. That is to say, if you go to another page on their website, specifically www.cityoftulsa.org/cityservices/ animal-welfare/information-services.aspx, it clearly states that “if you have an emergency, such as a vicious dog or an animal in distress, please call (918) 669-6280 or 911.”

Because of that contradiction, and to answer your question as to whether you can get in trouble for calling 911 if your animal is choking, I decided to contact Mr. Terry Baxter, the Interim Director of the City of Tulsa 911 Public Safety Communications. Mr. Baxter reviewed Tulsa’s website and is now recommending that the site be changed to remove their previous suggestion of calling 911 if an animal is in distress. However, they will leave the other suggested telephone number (918) 669-6280, which is Tulsa’s Non-Emergency number. Mr. Baxter also informed me that if a person was to currently call 911 with an animal emergency medical situation, that person would be transferred to the Non-Emergency number for assistance, and 911 would not offer advice nor send emergency responders.

Concerning whether a person could get in trouble for calling 911 with pet medical emergencies, Mr. Baxter said he or she would not per se get in trouble for an honest mistake, but added if that person routinely or intentionally calls with those situations, he or she could be prosecuted as that may be considered a crime. In fact, Oklahoma Statute Title 63 section 2819 states:

No person shall call 911 for the purpose of making a knowingly false alarm or complaint or reporting knowingly false information which could result in the dispatch of emergency services from any public agency… Nor shall any person call 911 for non-emergency or personal use. Any person violating the provisions of this section, upon conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not to exceed $500.00 and by an assessment for the resulting costs of any dispatching of emergency personnel and equipment for each such offense.

Mr. Baxter also offered a great suggestion that if you own a pet, then it would be helpful to put your chosen vet’s number, as well as a veterinary hospital phone number, on the refrigerator with all of the other applicable emergency numbers. 

Cody Wayne Hahn Convicted in Creek County

posted January 26th, 2012 by
  • Share
Sammy

by Ruth Steinberger

WARNING! The accompanying picture is very graphic!

Cody Hahn was convicted of animal cruelty on January 26 in Creek County.  This is a victory for everyone who cares about halting violence in communities across our state.  Hahn will serve one year in Creek County jail with the remainder of a five year sentence suspended and he was ordered to pay $3300 in restitution.

In October, 2008 Creek County Deputy Charles Redfern responded to a call from a caller who had seen someone intentionally tie a dog to the back of a pickup truck and then drive the truck at high speed down a gravel road.  The dog that Oklahomans have come to know as, ‘Sammy,’ was nearly skinned alive and the gruesome crime shocked northeast Oklahoma.

Deputy Redfern immediately called for assistance for the severely injured dog. The dog was transported to Bristow Animal Hospital where he received intensive treatment.   Within three weeks Deputy Redfern had identified Cody Hahn of Creek County as a suspect in the case.

Since then Creek County has witnessed a legal case that pitted a young man with too much financial resource and too little conscience against a determined sheriff’s office and prosecutor.

TulsaPets Magazine

This is what Cody Wayne Hahn just admitted that he intentionally did to the dog now known as Sammy.

All studies show that this type of crime often emboldens the perpetrator to escalate their violence to include people; indeed according to the FBI all serial killers started out ‘practicing’ on animals.  Folks from across the nation applauded the efforts of the Creek County Sheriff’s Office to solve the crime.

Once charged with the crime, Cody Hahn (then 21) used high-priced legal counsel to help him ‘get off.’   Animal welfare organizations posted a reward to attract additional witnesses and kept a vigil at each courtroom appearance.  Cody Hahn appeared grinning in all photos and never acknowledged the severity of the crime for which he was accused.  Ultimately in 2010 Hahn texted an intimidating message to a witness.  By that point the family members who had gathered to support him had largely vanished and he was finally represented by a court appointed attorney.

Hahn’s early legal team tried every angle to challenge Oklahoma’s anti-cruelty statutes.  At one point attorney Creekmore Wallace of Sapulpa postulated that if statutes protected a stray (thereby valueless) dog from being skinned alive, possibly our statutes could be used to criminalize someone who stepped on a bug.

Hahn’s arrogance lost, and his legal counsel’s maneuvering failed.

And today, as he was convicted of animal cruelty, decent people everywhere won big time!

Are Landlords Liable for their Tenant’s Pets?

posted January 15th, 2012 by
  • Share

TulsaPetsMagazine.com

By Lloyd Benedict

The fast answer is, typically, no; however, there may be a set of facts that prove otherwise. Specifically, the landlord may be responsible for his or her tenant’s dogs if it can be proven that the landlord knew the tenant had a dog, and the landlord also knew that the dog was known to be vicious. Since 1987, Oklahoma has had a series of dog attack cases where the victims have attempted to hold someone other than the actual dog owner responsible for their injuries. Obviously, these cases arise because the actual dog owner does not have insurance or assets compared to what a landlord may have.

Before you pass judgment on what you may think is a money hungry plaintiff, one must understand that when a victim has been mangled in an animal attack, the medical bills can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. In any event, careful analysis should be given to the history of the cases upon which the courts rely to address this issue.

To examine our courts’ thinking, the first case to discuss occurred in Tulsa in 1987, cited as Hampton v. Hammons. In Hampton, a 7-year-old neighbor climbed over a defective fence owned by the Hamptons. At that time, the Hamptons were temporarily taking care of their son’s dog who lived elsewhere. The child was not considered a trespasser as he had been in the Hamptons’ yard before, retrieving toys and such, but this time the child became entangled in the dog’s chain, resulting in an attack on the child.

In short, the Court held that there was evidence that the attack occurred without provocation, that the child was not trespassing, and that the Hamptons were still liable even though they were not the dog’s owner. The Court mainly ruled this way because of how Tulsa’s ordinance then defined “owner” and “vicious dog.” Specifically, in 1987, the Ordinance stated: “‘Owner’ shall mean and include the owner of any dog, cat, animal or domestic animal as herein defined and also every other person having the care or custody of or harboring, keeping or maintaining any dog, cat, animal or domestic animal.”

The Court also determined that the dog was considered a vicious dog because it was a breed that had the propensity to be vicious, and the method of it being chained with another dog fueled that propensity. Most importantly, the Court ultimately determined that “one who undertakes to control the dog’s actions, may be considered to be the owner within the meaning of the law.”

After the Hampton case, the question then became whether a Landlord would be considered the owner of a vicious dog within the meaning of the law. This theory was then tested in 1994, in Bishop v. Carroll. In Bishop, the defendant, Irene Carroll, purchased a house in Oklahoma City as a residence for her daughter, Renee. The daughter lived in the house a short time and then rented it to acquaintances, the VanScoys, who had three children and three Rottweilers, including the dog involved in the attack, Rowdy. Carroll did not visit the house after her daughter moved. The VanScoys sent their rental payments to Carroll, who was an absentee landlord, living in Washington, D.C.

The plaintiff, Karrlinda, was a threeyear- old who lived two houses down and across an intersection from the VanScoys. The child’s mother had observed the VanScoy children with dogs in their front yard, with no evidence of aggression by the dogs. Karrlinda was at the VanScoys’ house playing, and the dog, “Rowdy,” was chained in the back yard. Exactly what happened is not known. It is sufficient to state that the child did get into the back yard and was attacked by Rowdy. However, the Court was reluctant to hold the absentee landlord liable because the plaintiff could not prove that:

1. The attacking dog, “Rowdy,” was of a vicious breed;

2. Carroll’s daughter had any knowledge that the dog, Rowdy, was of a vicious propensity;

3. Carroll had any direct knowledge dogs were kept on the rental premises;

4. Carroll in any way contributed to the maintenance of the dog, Rowdy;

5. Carroll had or exercised any care, custody or control over the actions of the dog Rowdy; or

6. Carroll in any manner violated the Oklahoma City ordinance by “harboring” a vicious animal.

The Bishop case is a useful guide to see what factors the Court relied upon to determine whether a landlord could be held liable for his or her acts of the tenant’s animals. However, many landlords clearly know their tenants have pets. Despite such, the Bishop case shows that plaintiffs have a tough evidentiary challenge to prove the landlords knew that the dogs were vicious and exercised control over the dog.

That same year, the Court was again asked to address this issue in Robison v. Stokes. In Robinson, another Tulsa case, the lease actually allowed for pets; however, the evidence still showed that the landlord did not know the tenant had a pet, let alone a vicious one. Therefore, the Court would not hold the landlord responsible for the tenant’s dog attack.

This issue arose again in 2009, in Eastin v. Aggarwal. Like the Bishop case, a neighbor child was injured by a renter’s dog. The Court was again reluctant to hold the landlord liable for the tenant’s dog because of the following:

1. The landlord lease specifically barred tenants from keeping or harboring pets of any kind on the premises;

2. The landlord had no knowledge of any dog being harbored by the tenants;

3. The landlords were residing primarily outside of Oklahoma;

4. The landlords had not cared for, maintained, kept, harbored, possessed, controlled, or had custody of any vicious dog at the residential rental property;

5. The plaintiff testified she was not aware of any incidents in which the dog in question showed any signs of aggressiveness to another human being or animal;

6. Plaintiff was not aware of any reports or complaints made to any City of Tulsa authority, police agency or dog pound regarding the dog’s previous behavior;

7. Plaintiff was not aware of any facts that would suggest the landlord was aware of the existence of the dog in question;

8. Plaintiff testified that other than the occupants of the rental property, she was not aware of anyone else that had cared for, maintained, kept, harbored, possessed, controlled, or had custody of the dog in question.

In a recent 2010 Oklahoma Court decision, the same issue was again tested with Taylor v. Glenn. In that case, as like the others, it was proven that the lease prohibited dogs and that the landlord had no knowledge that the tenant was keeping a Pit Bull on the leased premises. Although the landlord only lived a few miles away, the Court refused to hold her liable for the victim’s damages caused by her tenant’s dog.

So, it appears Oklahoma Courts are not likely to hold an absentee landlord responsible for their tenant’s dogs. And despite other instances where the landlord knows of the tenant having a dog, it would still have to be proven that:

1. The landlord knew the dog was vicious;

2. The landlord had some type of control over the dog.TulsaPetsMagazine.com

One could argue that the landlord meets both of these elements if it is proven that he or she had knowledge the dog was vicious or the propensity to be vicious (knowing element) and failed to remove the dog from the premises (control element). As a word of caution, there could be a reason our appellate Courts have not had a case where the landlord knew of those elements. That may simply be because those cases settle with the insurance company and never make it to court.

Irresponsible Neighbor Lets Dog Roam Free

posted November 15th, 2011 by
  • Share

by Lloyd Benedict

Dear Laywer Lloyd,

I just moved to a house in Collinsville (but still in Tulsa County). It is my understanding that Collinsville has no “leash law.” Many of our neighbors let their pets roam the neighborhood (we have no neighborhood association). Our next-door neighbor has a Dachshund that frequently roams around in their front yard, as well as several other yards. On several occasions, she (the Dachshund) has defecated in my yard.

She also likes to stand on my front porch and bark (for hours) at my dogs, who are inside looking out at her; this drives me (and my dogs) crazy!

I went over a few weeks ago and talked to the owner/neighbor about this. I explained that we had seen her dog defecating in our yard, and that she is constantly barking from our front porch. The neighbor’s response to this was, “Yeah, we like to let her out to run around for a while every day.” There was no apology and no resolution to the problem (I guess she doesn’t see it as a problem). I am also concerned that, because she also runs around in the street, the dog will be hit by a car or cause an accident by someone trying to avoid hitting her. I don’t want to cause problems or be “that neighbor” because we just moved in.   It isn’t the dog’s fault that the owner allows her to run around and have free reign over the neighborhood.   How do I address this with my neighbor without causing an altercation? Since we don’t live in the city limits, what does the law say about this type of situation?

Thanks for your help on this.

Anomalous and Miserable

Dear Anomalous :

As they say, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your neighbors.” In my past articles, I have always encouraged the neighbors to work their problems out, and to only resort to law enforcement as a last option. You may wish to take another poke at getting their assurance to keep their pet off your property. I suggest you do this in writing and politely inform them that this conduct must stop. Be sure to inform them that you have already discussed this matter with them, and you have not seen any corrective action.

Express your concerns for the pet’s safety, and for the entire neighborhood’s safety. Last, inform them that you have given ample and reasonable time to resolve this matter, and that if they continue to disrespect your legal rights, then you are left with no choice but to seek official assistance in the matter.

If the dog then continues to run loose, and you want to seek official assistance, the issue becomes whether your understanding about Collinsville not having a “leash law” is accurate.

Being the inquisitive attorney I am and wanting to satisfy my curiosity, I called The City of Collinsville and spoke with their Animal Control Officer, Bobby Rosser. Mr. Rosser was extremely helpful with his knowledge of Collinsville Ordinances as they pertain to animals. He readily informed me that Collinsville does in fact have very strong Ordinances that they routinely enforce.

Specifically, Collinsville has Ordinance 4-101 and 4-402. Ordinance 4-101 is actually their “leash law,” and requires all animals to be restrained by their owners in the Corporate City Limits of Collinsville. Ordinance 4-102 is their

“running at-large” law that prohibits owners allowing their animals to enter others’ property without permission.

Both of these Ordinances carry hefty fines and will be investigated if reported.

Mr. Rosser can be contacted at (918) 371-1000, if you need assistance in your matter, but again note that he has no jurisdiction outside of the Corporate City Limits of Collinsville.

Due to your neighbor’s dog disturbing your peace, you may also have grounds to file a complaint against the dog’s owner for nuisance. This can be done by filing a complaint with the Collinsville Police Department.

Your situation also begs the question, what if you live in or outside the Corporate City Limits of Collinsville? If you live outside city limits, you still have law enforcement options. Specifically, Oklahoma Statute Title 4 Section 43 states that:

…any county with a population of 200,000 or more may regulate or prohibit the running at large of dogs within said county, and cause such dogs as may be running at large to be impounded… Any person, firm or corporation who violates any rule or regulation… shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided by the laws of this state in any court of competent jurisdiction, provided that in the case of continuing offenses, each day on which the offense occurs shall constitute a separate offense.

Tulsa County has a population of 502,000, so it clearly is controlled by this law. As such, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department has jurisdiction over dogs running at large in rural Tulsa County. The person to contact with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office would be Deputy Dave Long with the Animal Control Desk at (918) 596-5704.

Calling that number may require you to leave your name and phone number and a brief description of your matter.

I presume Deputy Long has a pretty busy schedule, as he may be the only person who handles these matters, so I would recommend a follow up call or two, if you do not hear back.

THE LAWS WE ALL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SERVICE DOGS

posted September 15th, 2011 by
  • Share

By Lloyd Benedict

Service Animals have been around for many years and are becoming even more popular as our social environment has become more accessible to people with disabilities. Interestingly, there is no required license or registration process for service animals in the U.S. As such, any person could claim that an animal is a “service animal” and demand to bring it into locations where animals are normally prohibited, such as restaurants, medical facilities, pet-free housing and even airlines. However, one of the main goals of the recent changes within the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Federal law that protects persons with disabilities, was to reduce misrepresentations committed by people who falsely claim that their pets are service animals.

   Another important goal of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to ensure that businesses and organizations, serving the public, allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks and zoos, etc.

   A Service Dog is defined under Sec. 36.104 of the ADA as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability.

   Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort (i.e., therapy dogs), or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
   Service Dogs must be allowed to go any public place their handler goes. It is required under federal and state laws that they be allowed to do so. They do not have to wear any specific identifying gear, including vests. Many Service Dog users choose to dress their dogs in a vest or other identifying apparel in order to make access easier, as it avoids many questions and confrontations. This is a personal choice, and is not required by law. It is illegal to ask for any special identification from Service Dog owners. Some carry ID cards, and may present them voluntarily, but this also is not required, and should not be expected. A business owner may NOT ask for “proof” or certification of the dog’s training as a condition of entry into their business.
   If a Service Dog misbehaves and places someone in danger, a business owner has the right to ask the partner to get control of the animal, or please leave. This should be only an isolated incident, and cannot be used to determine future access based upon what “might” happen or has happened in the past. A person with a Service Dog cannot be refused entry based on the actions of another service animal. For example, a business owner cannot say, “Oh, that last Service Dog team that was in here left a mess, so I’m not letting any Service Dogs into my store anymore.” This is discrimination and can be punishable by law. Remember, too, that Service Dogs are just that – dogs, and they can have bad days just like people can. They are not robots and cannot be expected to act perfectly all the time.

   You should also be aware that the ADA has some exceptions and additional rules. According to the ADA, a public accommodation (which basically means a business our public entity holding themselves accessible to the public) may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:

  • The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or
  • The animal is not housebroken.
  • If a public accommodation properly excludes a service animal under this section, it shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises.
  • A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
  • A public accommodation is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.
  • A public accommodation shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. A public accommodation may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. A public accommodation shall not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, a public accommodation may not make these inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person’s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).
  • Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of a place of public accommodation where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.
  • A public accommodation shall not ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If a public accommodation normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.

 

   Interestingly, and what I will forever keep in my “OMG, I can’t believe this is true” file, is that the ADA specifically makes a narrow exception to allows miniature horses also as service animals. However, before you go out and swap Fido out for Lil’ Trigger, you should be aware that there are some considerable differences when your service animal is a miniature horse, such as:

  • A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.
  • Assessment factors: In determining whether reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, a public accommodation shall consider:
  • The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;
  • Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;
  • Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (Thank goodness for this rule.)
  • Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.

 

   Oklahoma also has laws concerning Service Dogs. However, if a state law ever conflicts with a federal law, then the federal law is the law that must be followed. For instance, Oklahoma requires any driver of a vehicle who knowingly approaches within 15 feet of a person who is in the roadway or at an intersection and who is wholly or partially blind and who is carrying a cane or walking stick white in color, or white tipped with red, or who is using a dog guide wearing a specialized harness, or who is wholly or partially deaf and is using a signal dog wearing an orange identifying collar, or who is physically handicapped and is using a service dog, shall immediately come to a full stop and take such precautions before proceeding as may be necessary to avoid accident or injury to the person wholly or partially blind, deaf or physically handicapped. For purposes of this section, a “dog guide” means any dog that is specially trained to guide a blind person. 

   Oklahoma law, in short, further defines and provides that:

  • Any {disabled person}who is a passenger on any public transportation operating within this state shall be entitled to have with him or her a guide, signal, or service dog specially trained or being trained for that purpose, without being required to pay an additional charge.
  • A {disabled person} shall not be denied admittance to any {public place} where the general public is regularly, normally, or customarily invited within the State of Oklahoma. Such {disabled persons}shall not be required to pay any additional charges for his or her guide, signal, or service dog, but shall be liable for any damage done to the premises by such dog.
  • A dog used by a deaf or hard-of-hearing person shall be required to wear an orange identifying collar.

 

   For the purposes of this Oklahoma Statute:

            1. “Physically handicapped person” means any person who has a physical impairment             which severely and permanently restricts mobility of two or more extremities, or who is         so severely disabled as to be unable to move without the aid of a wheelchair;

            2. “Service dog” means any dog individually trained to the physically handicapped             person’s requirements; and

            3. “Signal dog” means any dog trained to alert a deaf or hard-of-hearing person to             intruders or sounds.

   Oklahoma even has very strict laws that protect Service Animals. Note that as you read this law, it uses the term “Service Animals” not just “Service Dogs.” I was also unable to find any federal laws that address this same issue, therefore Oklahoma’s law is the controlling one.  According to Oklahoma Statutes:

  • No person shall willfully harm, including torture, torment, beat, mutilate, injure, disable, or otherwise mistreat or kill a service animal that is used for the benefit of any handicapped person in the state.
  • No person including, but not limited to, any municipality or political subdivision of the state, shall willfully interfere with the lawful performance of any service animal used for the benefit of any handicapped person in the state.
  • Any person convicted of violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000.00, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding 1 year, or both.
  • Any person who knowingly and willfully and without lawful cause or justification violates the provisions of this section, during the commission of a misdemeanor or felony, shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000.00, or by imprisonment not exceeding 2 years, or both.
  • Any person who {injures or kills} or to interfere with a service animal in any place where the service animal resides or is performing, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor. Additionally, the court shall order the violator to make restitution to the owner of the service animal for actual costs and expenses incurred as a direct result of any injury, disability or death caused to the service animal, including but not limited to costs of replacing and training any new service animal when a service animal is killed, disabled or unable to perform due to injury.
  • No {government entity}, or any official thereof, may enact or enforce any ordinance or rule that requires any registration or licensing fee for any service animal as defined in this section that is used for the purpose of guiding or assisting a disabled person who has a sensory, mental, or physical impairment. Any official violating the provisions of this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $50.00.
  • A “service animal” means an animal that is trained for the purpose of guiding or assisting a disabled person who has a sensory, mental, or physical impairment.

 

   Lastly, Oklahoma’s Landlord and Tennant Act prohibit discrimination against tenants who have “Service Dogs.” The law states: (as you read, keep in mind that the Landlord would also be held to the same ADA rules as discussed above).

  • A landlord shall not deny or terminate a tenancy to a blind, deaf, or physically handicapped person because of the guide, signal, or service dog of such person.

 

   The following list will be helpful for those of you who may require enforcement of these laws against those who violate your rights as a Service Animal owner or if you are a business owner who needs further clarification:

Problems with Access to Public Places: contact Dept. of Justice at (800) 514-0301; TTY (800) 514-0383; www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm.

Problems with Housing: contact Dept. of Housing and Urban Development at (202) 708-1112; TTY (202) 708-1455; www.hud.gov.

Problems with Traveling: Dept. of Transportation at (202) 366-4000; www.dot.gov.

Problems at Work: contact Job Accommodation Network, a free service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the Department of Labor, at (800) 526-7234.

Page 2 of 512345