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Police Called on Woman's Emotional Support Kangaroo

By Mark Wilson, Esq. | Last updated on

Larry and Diana Moyer brought their 8-month-old, Jimmy, to a McDonald's in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Jimmy often goes along with Larry and Diana, and the trip to McDonald's was no exception.

A McDonald's customer, however, called the police. They didn't like Jimmy, even though he apparently didn't do anything wrong.

Oh, also -- Jimmy is a kangaroo.

You Call That a Support Animal? Now That's a Support Animal

The Moyers actually own five kangaroos, along with sheep, geese, chickens, horses, and a menagerie of other animals. Jimmy is the youngest kangaroo and serves as Diana's therapy animal while she receives cancer treatment, Milwaukee's WISN-TV reported.

Owning a whole zoo is apparently legal, as Moyer told the Daily Citizen that her 70-acre farm is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is, of course, as opposed to prior stories of people who thought it would be a good idea to keep bobcats in their residential backyards.

McDonald's itself didn't appear to mind; in a statement sent to WISN, the company said, "Our policy is to make our restaurants accessible to all customers, including those with disabilities and special needs." That may or may not include emotional support kangaroos.

Support Animal v. Service Animal

Could a business legally keep Jimmy out? Even with that adorable sweater? The answer is "yes."

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires businesses to permit disabled people to enter places of public accommodation with their service animals. The ADA recognizes just this one kind of animal, which is an animal trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. Even that, though, is a misnomer; only a dog can be a service animal.

A support animal, therapy animal, or companion animal, on the other hand, is something regulated by state or local laws, if it's regulated at all. If those laws don't forbid banning them, then businesses can ban any animals that aren't service dogs. The only exceptions are the Fair Housing Act, which regulates housing, and the Air Carrier Access Act, which governs air transportation.

Consequently, emotional support pigs, ducks, and alpacas can all be legally forbidden at stores and restaurants. Even emotional support dogs can be disallowed, whether or not they're wearing those adorable little vests (which don't mean anything, anyway).

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