In recent years, the use of service and emotional support animals has grown not only throughout the United States, but also in Michigan.

Michigan state law limits service animals to dogs or miniature horses, however many other animal species can be used as emotional support animals.

The American with Disabilities Act has some specific requirements for miniature horses if they are to be used as service animals:

  • They must be housebroken
  • They must be under the owner's control
  • The facility must be able to accommodate the miniature horse's type, size, and weight
  • The horse's presence cannot compromise the legitimate safety requirements necessary in the operation of the facility.

What is the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal?

A service animal in Michigan is defined as a dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks that would benefit a person with a disability. These animals could assist someone who is visually impaired, alert someone who is deaf, pull a wheelchair, alert and protect a person who is having a seizure, or calm a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. Service animals are allowed in public places where animals are usually not allowed.

An emotional support animal in Michigan is an animal that provides comfort, companionship, and emotional support to a person suffering from a disability, illness, or mental health disorder. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals do not require special training, and they are not granted the same public access rights as service animals. In Michigan, emotional support animals are not allowed in public places where animals are usually not allowed.

A Miniature Horse Spotted at the Grocery Store

Recent social media posts have shown a miniature horse walking around the Meijer store at 54th and Clyde Park...

Miniature Horse Service Animal
Photo: Lori Potter via Facebook

Here is a video of the same miniature horse.

The miniature service horse is named Eli. He's 1 year and 10 months old and is still in training. His owner, Andrew Hanselman of Wyoming, MI, says Eli does very well in stores. Andrew is a disabled veteran and chose a miniature horse over a dog for his service animal. He said his wife originally said NO to a horse, but he won that argument. Miniature horses were first used as service animals to assist people with stability issues about ten years ago. Eli came from Mini Miracles Farm Michigan.

This is not the first miniature horse used as a service animal in West Michigan. In February of 2020, TV 13 did a story about a local woman who was able to fly with her miniature horse...

Another miniature horse service animal named Flirty even has several social media accounts.

See the complete list of Flirty's social media accounts here.

9 Animals That Are, Surprisingly, Legal to Own in Michigan

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