Woman Wants Miniature Horse As Service Animal


Patty Cooper wants her apartment building to allow her service animal to live with her. But her service animal is not the typical service animal — she has a black and white miniature horse named Earl.

This one-year-old miniature tobiano pinto horse and Cooper, a Vermont resident, have grown attached to each other since she bought him a few months ago.

And now Cooper wants Earl to be her service animal. Cooper has a severe case of celiac disease and she has used a wheelchair since she broke her back for the second time four years ago.

She plans to attach shafts extending from Earl’s harness to her wheelchair. She said, “He’ll be able to pull me back and forth to the bus stop and pull me to town. After he’s trained he’ll be able to go on the bus with me under ADA laws.”

Currently, Earl lives at a farm, but Cooper soon wants Earl to live with her at her apartment. But the nonprofit housing group that she lives at questions if Cooper can provide adequate space and care for this 100-pound miniature horse in her apartment.

Central Vermont Community Land Trust, an organization that provides housing for low and moderate income people, sent Cooper a letter two weeks ago asking questions and expressing concerns about Earl living with Cooper.

The letter asked, “So, can you tell us how you intend to dispose of the pony’s waste? Is the pony housebroken? If he is house-trained, who is going to pick up after him outside? What does this animal require for food? If it is hay and grain, as I suspect, where and how do you plan to store this food so that it will not attract rats or otherwise become a potential health risk to the other residents living in this complex?”

In response to press inquiries, the Land Trust issued a statement last week that said they would carefully review and consider Cooper’s request and would make every effort to try and accommodate her specific needs.

Cooper is confident that everything is going to work out and that Earl will be able to live with her. She said she really wants a horse as a service animal because of the longer life span.

She added, “Earl will live at least another 50 years. I’ll still have him when I’m 100.”

Source: Associated Press

(Thanks menusux)

14 Responses to “Woman Wants Miniature Horse As Service Animal”

  1. Nora and Rufus says:

    Owning horses all through my childhood and teen years and riding, trianing and showing…….My opinion is Ms Cooper and little Earl have bonded and possibly Earl might be quite happy with her. Although his little hoofs might make quite a “tappin” when he walks across her floor. And there would have to be some safety measures taken that Earl would not slip on any slippery surfaces. She would also have to be capable of feeding him, perhaps someone will be assisting her in lifting hay bales and sacks or buckets of grain and watering facilities…they are quite heavy, not to mention the necessary “mucking” required to keep her apartment clean on a continuous basis.

  2. CorgiPants says:

    I am wondering why she couldn’t just have an electric wheelchair. I’m not doubting she loves Earl or that he might very well be useful, but when there are alternatives (presumably) that would do the same job (pull her to and fro), what is the advantage of a horse other than that her beloved companion would be protected under ADA regulations.

    Also, I think “at least 50 years” is pushing it. 50 is about the upper end, not the lower end, for a miniature hose.

  3. mittens says:

    in my state there are still laws on the book that prohibit livestock like horses being housed on the second floor of any dwelling . you also can’t put any albino humans you have on show for monitary returns.

    houses aren’t meant to house horses-not only does this seem like a particularly egregious use of the ADA( although i dont doubt she loves her horse) but how fair is it to the poor horse who belongs on a farm? it’s hard enough having a pet cat or dog in your apartment without the pet police trying to ban it but here someone’s dragging livestock into the mix.

  4. straybaby says:


    i was wondering about an electric chair also. seems it would be easier on a city bus. i can see using the horse for stability (standing/walking/etc) and using him to pull a cart for groceries and such, but a horse over an electric chair i don’t understand. i can’t imagine boarding a city bus with one while in a wheel chair, some days it’s hard enough with just an umbrella!

  5. Kristy says:

    Seems like her love of this horse is pushing her to bend the ADA laws. Having been around horses for many years of my life, I can safely say that an apartment is not adequate housing for a miniature horse. In fact, I find it quite selfish that she wants to do this to the horse when there are numerous alternatives to assist her with her diesease.
    What happens when she gets too sick to care for it? Service dogs are in high demand for people who need them, but I doubt the poor horse would have the same fate. He would have been acclimated to be indoors and then have to switch to barn life. Or….more likely….. he would never acclimate to indoor life and would suffer because of it.
    You can’t forcably find a reason to bring home every animal you fall in love with. If that were the case, then my house would be full of monkeys and all sorts of creatures. For now, we limit it to dogs, cats, and fish (but there are quitre a few!!!!)

  6. CINDY WALSH says:

    WHY NOT ??!!

  7. catmom5 says:

    I agree that an apartment home is no place for a horse, as much as this woman loves him.

  8. Scratch says:

    Looks like a very nice woman who loves her beautiful pony. Equine are typically much higher maintenance and expense than dogs. I have concerns that a pony would not be the best choice for both her disability and the apartment where she lives.

    I’ve never heard of a housebroken pony before? I can’t imagine a pony urinating and pooping all over. Maybe Earl (love the name) can be litter trained in a large child’s pool. But that could take up quite a bit of room. And the hay would need constant cleanup.

    It would be a wonderful site to see Cooper and Earl wheeling downtown. But, ponies often spook and it wouldn’t be a fun ride attached to Earl in a flipped wheelchair.

    I really feel for disabled people. But, like all of us we must live within certain limitations.

    And, how would the bus system accommodate her? A dog can easily get on a bus without slipping and sit is a small area next to the wheelchair. A pony would need five or six feet length and hopefully won’t need to ‘go’ while on the bus.

  9. myra says:

    This is nothing short of abusive toward this poor horse. As for what appears to be a narcissistically motivated political gesture (”accommodate me at all costs”), we can thank people like this for turning the idea of disability-related accommodations into a joke.

  10. AOB says:

    This is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The Americans With Disability act comes along in an effort to give physically challenged individuals a chance at a more normal life and some idiot has to push the boundaries and take advantage of a law which was NOT designed for such foolishness. There really are limits, Lady!

  11. pat says:

    i have to agree with the majority here. an apartment is no place for a horse, even a miniature, and the ADA was not meant to extend to these types of ill-conceived plans. while i can appreciate that ms. cooper wants to be near her beloved animal, there has to be a better way to go about it than this.

    not for nothing, and i’m not trying to snipe at anybody, but buying and maintaining a pet like this is not exactly cheap. how is it that someone who can afford to do this is living in a low/moderate income apartment building?

  12. Jodie says:

    I agree with Myra and AOB. I’m sure she cares deeply for the horse; however, she’s being extremely selfish and unreasonable…at Earl’s expense.

  13. mwb says:

    For those interested in reading as well as learning more about Patty Cooper and her replacement service animal, Earl — a miniature (mini) horse, check out her blog at: journals.aol.com/midhbarcooper/my-new-service-animal

    Patty Cooper is not the first person with a disability to use a mini horse as a (replacement) service animal, others have done so as well. One such example can be found via the brief article from ‘USA Today’ on the subject from earlier this year ( 1/28/2007): Mini-horse helps blind New York woman:

    By the way, although CVCLT and others are referring to Earl as being a pony, the fact is there is a big difference between ponies and mini horses, just like there is a huge difference between ponies and what is regularly known as horses. It is much like comparing apples to oranges.

  14. Jessika says:

    I rode horses for 10 years before I had to stop due to extreme stomach/leg pain (just getting up to walk to the bathroom hurt my legs) and I had memory loss, after 10 years of riding I could not remember how to put the saddle on or take off the bridle.

    I understand completely how you can become attached to an animal and I don’t see why she would not be able to have a miniature horse (plenty of people have had them live indoors with them). She would still have to take the dog outside to use the bathroom and clean it up, I do not see why doing this with a miniature horse is any different compared to a dog.

    I hope she gets her mini to live with her!

    - Jessika : Celiac Speaks - My Personal Notes

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