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Fine issue over possession of monkey, Pa. couple claims it's a helper animal
A suburban Pittsburgh man has been fined for illegally possessing a monkey he says acted as a helper for him and his cancer-stricken wife.
Samuel Govannucci says he got the small monkey, named Kira, about 10 years ago as he was recovering from an accident. He says the creature became more important when his wife was diagnosed with leukemia.
But the Pennsylvania Game Commission seized the monkey during a raid in April. On Wednesday Govannucci was found guilty of possession of a monkey without a permit.
The game commission says it rarely grants permits for monkeys because they can carry diseases potentially fatal to humans.
Amanda Govannucci says she has hearing problems and Kira would alert her when someone was at the door.
Her husband was home when it happened.
"They go after (Kira) with these radiation suits and these big, long poles trying to tranquilize her. Three people were going after a little 10-pound monkey," Samuel Govannucci said.
"If he would call the ADA, they would tell him a therapy animal does not have to be registered under federal law. I registered her just to make them happy," Amanda Govannucci said.
But the commission said the Govannuccis don't have the right permits.
The Govannuccis said they believe someone called the Wildlife Commission after seeing photos of the monkey on their Myspace page.
New ADA service animal regs don’t monkey around
Those claiming that their pet monkeys, reptiles or ferrets are service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act should take heed of new regulations set to go into effect soon.
Those regs, issued last year but delayed until the Obama administration could get its Justice Department Civil Rights Division fully in place, are set to be enforced by the end of the year.
The new clarified standards bar rabbits, farm animals, ferrets, rodents, amphibians, and wild animals – including monkeys or any other primate born in captivity – from being used as service animals.
ADA to crack down on bogus service animals
New ADA rules may only protect dogs and miniature horses as service animals due to progressively more people buying bogus Internet-based National Service Animal Registry credentials to declare their pets as service animals.
It is becoming increasingly common for people with disabilities to own service animals such as seeing eye dogs, as helpers to cope with seizures, monitor meds, and for minimizing behavior problems for children with autism. Yet there are creatures of all types working as service animals such as Capuchin monkey helpers, and even more unusual service animals like ferrets, parrots, pot-bellied pigs, and snakes. If these peculiar animals have service-animal credentials, businesses could face $55,000 civil penalties for asking about disability or denying access and thereby violating a person’s civil rights.
However, starting on March 15th, only service dogs and trained miniature horses will be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, reports The Wall Street Journal. Why this drastic change? Because some people believe there are too many bogus service animals – people who are taking advantage of the system in order to keep their beloved pets handy at all times.
However, the Wildlife Commission seized the monkey during a raid in April and fined Govannucci for illegally possessing the animal.