All animals other than law enforcement K9s and service animals will be forbidden from entering Mohave County facilities after a decision this week by the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.
According to Mohave County Risk and Emergency Management Director Byron Steward, members of the community have recently brought their animals into county buildings, which have been causing a disruptive influence to the county’s operations. Whether county residents are bringing their pets in to escape the heat or cold, they could be causing a disruption or possibly a hazardous situation by doing so.
“We need to have a clear policy that applies in all departments,” Steward said at Monday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting. “We could potentially have a liability situation on county property.”
Supervisor Ron Gould, of Mohave Valley, said he has seen some exceptions among well-behaved animals, but the risk posed by those less well-behaved has made barring such animals a necessity.
“About two weeks ago, I had someone come and talk to me about animal control ordinances,” Gould said. “Her pig had just given birth to piglets, and one of them was struggling. She brought it in with her, tucked in her jacket, on the third floor of the county administration building. It didn’t cause a disruption … but we don’t have a lot of choice. Animals can be a really disruptive influence, not just in terms of noise but with allergies as well. But we’ve made an exception for service animals … their owners need help from them.”
Determining what does, and does not qualify as a service animal may be easier said than done, however. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees are allowed only to ask if an animal is a service animal, and what task the animal is trained to perform. Employees are not permitted to request certification of the animal’s status as a service animal. Under Arizona law, service animals can be either dogs or miniature horses.
Under the county’s new resolution barring animals from its facilities, however, county employees may still ask an owner to leave if their service animal causes a disruption to county business.