Service animals have helped people in a number of ways, ranging from seizure alert training to providing assistance for the blind. Usually, the term “service animal” brings to mind a dog accompanying someone wherever they go. However, service animals are no longer limited only to dogs. Options are now extending to cats, monkeys, horses—and even chickens.
In a number of instances, chickens have served as emotional comfort animals. At times, this practice has come under attack, but ultimately, if there is an emotional benefit for someone dealing with anxiety, depression, or another emotional disorder, they have a right to a therapy animal, even if that animal is a chicken.
Benefits of Therapy Animals
Depression, anxiety, and other issues have become a plague among senior citizens. The loss of loved ones, diminished mobility and independence, distance from family and friends—all of these can contribute toward depression in seniors. In turn, this leads to other health complications with a negative impact on longevity.
Therapy animals have been shown to help seniors fight off these issues and gain a healthier emotional outlook overall, which ultimately increases longevity. In some cases, the animal chosen is a chicken.
Under the ADA, the definition of a service animal only includes dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses, so it may be a while before chickens are commonly accepted as service animals.
However, chickens can be trained. For example, there are many instances of people training their chickens to come when called. Each chicken has its own personality, so the intelligence is there. In some places, chickens have already been employed as service animals in senior care facilities.
Challenges and Rights
There are a number of challenges facing those who would keep chickens as service animals. Many places that do not allow pets—and even some that do—do not permit their residents to keep chickens at all. When the chickens are used as comfort animals, this clashes with the Fair Housing Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which protect the housing rights of people with disabilities.
While a the present time chickens cannot technically be registered as trained service animals, they can still be used as comfort animals. If a doctor provides a written letter that a chicken provides comfort for someone, they have a right to keep it.
At Senior Care Centers, we understand the positive impact that animals can have on our residents. Our facilities are pet friendly, and we strive to create the best environment possible for your loved one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. To learn more, contact us.