UPDATE: Wisconsin city bans use of kangaroos as service animals

UPDATED Wednesday, June 17, 2015---8:03 a.m.

BEAVER DAM, Wis. (AP) -- Officials have changed a southeastern Wisconsin city's rules on service animals after a woman took a baby kangaroo into a McDonald's restaurant.

The Beaver Dam Daily Citizen reports the city's Common Council voted 14-0 Monday night to define a service animal as a dog or miniature horse, but not a kangaroo. Police can cite people who try to use other animals.

Beaver Dam police say the woman wrapped the baby kangaroo in a blanket and tucked it in an infant car seat, then took it inside a McDonald's in February. The woman has said the kangaroo is a therapy animal to help her cope with emotional distress.

City Attorney Maryann Schacht says the changes comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Copyright 2015: Associated Press


UPDATE: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 --- 6:20 p.m.

A Dodge County woman and her kangaroo are certainly getting a lot of attention after she was asked to leave a Beaver Dam McDonald's. She said it's her therapy animal and goes ever with her, but is it legal?

Aaron Backer, the executive director at Wisconsin Academy for Graduates Service Dogs – WAGS – says not all service animals are created equal. He classifies them as working, therapy, and emotional support. He said only service dogs, miniature horses, and monkeys are covered under the Americans Disabilities Act.

Backer said, “Most times when you see a service dog, they are a guide dog. That's about 65 percent of the working dogs in the country.”

He goes on to say true service animals must perform at least two specialized tasks that can help someone with their disabilities. “A dog has to be well trained so you only have to give a command one or twice at most,” said Backer.

But just because a service animal meets these requirements, it can be asked to leave a public place if it is misbehaving or causing a distraction.

In the recent case in Dodge County, the woman called her kangaroo a therapy animal. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, therapy animals are not covered under this umbrella.

Backer sheds some light on this by saying, “Therapy dogs go to nursing homes and hospitals and just brighten people's day.” While these animals do serve a valuable purpose, he continued, “They have to be invited where they go and are not allowed in public.”

In this instance, while Backer says he chuckled when he heard the story of the kangaroo he says it doesn't bode well for his clients. “It's going to cause problems, which in turn hurts our clients who have legitimate service dogs that have been well trained and really serve a life altering function for them.” Backer said, “[These animals] help them be more independent or get around independently.”

At this point, there is no licensing process, certification, or even doctors prescription for service animals. Backer stated, “The rule is if you have a disability and you have a trained service dog that performs tasks directly related to your disability, that's a service dog and you can take it out in public.”

If you're interested in being a volunteer to train service dogs, Backer says there's always a need for volunteers at WAGS. To find out how you can help out, just follow the link posted on this page.


UPDATE: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 --- 9:47 a.m.

BEAVER DAM, Wis. (AP) -- The woman who agreed to leave a McDonald's restaurant in Beaver Dam after a customer complained about the kangaroo she carried says she owns four additional kangaroos and a menagerie of other animals.

Diana Moyer lives on a farm near Columbus and has a collection of animals, including sheep, goats, emu, deer, horses and chickens. Police asked Moyer to leave McDonald's last week after she brought her eight-month-old kangaroo, Jimmy, to the restaurant in an infant car seat. Moyer says she takes her baby kangaroo everywhere, including the movies and church. Moyer says the kangaroo is a therapy animal for which she has a doctor's approval.

Moyer tells the Daily Citizen that her farm is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that it has been inspected.

Copyright: Associated Press 2015
Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 --- 12:28 p.m.

BEAVER DAM, Wis. (AP) -- A Beaver Dam police officer says he's quite certain he's never responded to a call like the one he handled recently at a McDonald's restaurant.

Officer Rich Dahl responded to an anonymous complaint about a woman who brought a kangaroo into McDonald's. Dahl said Tuesday the woman had the baby kangaroo wrapped in a blanket and tucked in an infant car seat.

Dahl says when he confronted the woman she explained the kangaroo was a service animal to help her cope with emotional distress and she produced a letter from a doctor.

The officer says the woman was upset at first, but then agreed to leave the restaurant. Dahl says he doesn't know if a kangaroo would qualify as a service animal under the law, but he says he's glad he didn't have to find out.

Copyright: Associated Press 2015