Proposal Would OK Monkeys As Service Animals
January 25, 2006
ATLANTA, GEORGIA--Two years ago, Helen Sterling was offered a free monkey as a service animal to help her with such things as getting food and picking up items from the floor.
Sterling, 42, who is quadriplegic, said the trained monkey could have also lightened the load for her 69-year-old mother who lives with her and helps her.
"It's those hundreds of things a day my mother won't have to do," Sterling recently told the Associated Press. "So it's not only a gift for me, it's a gift for the caregiver."
Unfortunately, Georgia law currently forbids monkeys as house pets -- even as service animals.
So state Representative Doug Holt has introduced a bill into the legislature that would allow Georgians with disabilities to get a wild animal permit from the Department of Natural Resources so they can employ monkeys as service animals.
"With ample safeguards in place, why shouldn't we do all we can to help the disabled?" Holt said.
Bill Fletcher, chief of game management for the DNR warned that monkeys can carry diseases.
"We want to make sure the legislation doesn't include loopholes for abuse," Fletcher said.
Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled