Rats Approved As Service Animals Amid Protest from Tea Party and Feds

The city council in Hesperia, California approved a pair of rats as service animals on Tuesday, in spite of the federal government’s declaration that dogs are the only service animals and a protest by the local Tea Party.

On March 15, the federal government tightened its definition of what constitutes a service animal as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new classification sanctions only dogs and in some cases, miniature horses.

The Act was signed into law in July 1990, but it never clearly defined which animals can be used as service animals. This led to all sorts of the animals being given the privilege over the past 21 years including: pigs, cats, monkeys, snakes, lizards and others.

Hesperia’s Law

The new regulation will have an impact on the entire country, except the small town of Hesperia where the city council voted 4-1 to allow any species of animal with a doctor’s note certifying their status – to be a service animal.

The issue began earlier this month when resident Danni Moore requested the city council pass an ordinance to allow two rats that sit on her shoulders to help control seizures become service animals.

The council approved the first step of the regulation on March 1 which would allow Ms. Moore to bring her rats into public buildings and businesses.

The council was scheduled to vote a second time on the issue on March 15.

Councilman Bill Holland, the former mayor and a planning commissioner opposed the measure. When it passed they enlisted the help of the local Tea Party to campaign against it.

The High Desert Tea Party took out an ad campaign and sent an e-mail to all of its members asking them to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Those against the ordinance said it would put local businesses at risk of litigation and health hazards.

However, City Attorney Eric Dunn insisted the ordinance “won’t change at all the regulations that exist today” and shouldn’t expose any businesses to more litigation.

At the meeting on Tuesday, nearly two dozen Tea Party members and others who opposed the ordinance were on hand.

They expressed fear about making changes during the poor economy and worried about the effect animals in their place of business would have on customers. They asked the council to reconsider their vote.

On the other hand the Hesperia Star reported supporter Pat Kohut saying, “People who have service animals have them for a reason. They are imperative to their care.”

In the end the Hesperia City Council was not swayed by pressure from the federal government, the Tea Party or local business owners.

They approved Ms. Moore’s rats as official service animals with all of its privileges.

Dunn said Hesperia is the only municipality in California to pass such a measure.


Photo: Creative Commons - Jack Berry


Shalvah Landy
Past Member 3 years ago

I thought this article would be about the service that the rats give...Well they certainly unveil fearful and fear perpetuating people...

Stevie A.
Stevie A3 years ago

Way to GO, Hesperia!

Jan S.
Jan S3 years ago

I hope this will enlighten those who still think rats, mice & birds shouldn't have protection under the Animal Welfare Act. Humans aren't the only species on Earth, we just act like it!
rats rule!!

AJ Ravinsky
AJ Ravinsky3 years ago

I am a conservative and have been one since the 1970s. I have also been an animal rescuer since the same time period. I'm not a Tea Party member but I do share many of their views. I also run a rat rescue which I founded in 2012, and before that I was adoption coordinator and acting director for another rat rescue.

PLEASE do not assume all conservatives are against animals, esp. rats. Some of the greatest animal rescuers I know are conservatives. Never assume all animal rescuers are liberal; we're not, not by any means.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W4 years ago


Colin Wright
Past Member 4 years ago

I think people should stop looking at what animals we should not allow as service animals, and start looking at what animals we should stop eating. Let rats be service animals, and stop eating all animals, ever.

Margriet Myngheer

Seren B., You are so right! I have 9 rats(can't resist them, work as a volunteer in rat shelter), 4 rats visiting for a few months and a dog. When I visit someone with just one dog or a cat, I can be disgusted with the smell of the house, the dirt they leave... My house is clean an full of rats :D. My rats are smarter than my dog(sorry Slurk) and of course, he is submissive to them.
One of my rats would have been excellent to be a service rat, she helped me trough rough times. When she knew I had a hard time, she came sitting on or next to me and licked me for minutes or went plopping next to my face or ear.

EM San
EM San6 years ago

i have rats. & omgs, since Willard, i hear the wild Rats have been talkin to the domestics who in turn give the information for a coo to their owners.

michael c.
corbin m6 years ago

"They expressed fear about making changes-" Fear. It's what the Tea Party (and conservatives as a whole) do best. Live it, breathe it, use it, work it-FEAR IT.

Suzanne M.
Suzanne M6 years ago

I can't believe the tea party went to such measures and spent so much money on a couple of tame rats. Its not like the rats will be running around unsupervised. This is just ridiculous. Way to go Hesperia for not being swayed!