KINGMAN — The Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved prohibiting animals — other than service animals as described under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act — from being brought into most county facilities.
There are exceptions: K-9 dogs with law enforcement or other emergency services personnel.
The county rule also won’t apply to the animal shelter and the fairgrounds.
“Some people are sensitive to animals,” said County Manager Mike Hendrix.
Some employees have been bringing animals into the workplace. And some departments hosted pet adoption days during which these adoptable pets were at the work site.
Having non-essential animals around could cause hesitation among employees who serve the public as well as by people who come to the county to conduct important business, Hendrix told the supervisors.
Byron Steward, the county’s risk and emergency management director, brought the proposal to the supervisors.
He explained that the county’s public libraries allow only service animals inside and that it seems to work at those locations.
“We need to have a clear policy that applies to other departments,” Steward said. “A couple of (county) departments have approached us.”
Not only have there have been complaints about the sound of dogs barking. Potential liability issues can arise when people with allergies are forced to be near animals that aggravate those allergies as well as if an animal bites someone or two animals start fighting, according to Steward.
People in public buildings may ask someone if the animal they have with them is required because of a disability. They also can ask what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.
“That’s all you can currently do,” Steward explained. “You can’t ask for certification.”
5th District Sup. Ron Gould initially wanted to limit the policy change to being allowed to tell someone they must remove an out-of-control animal from a county building.
“I had a constituent visit with a pig,” Gould said. “The pig wasn’t disruptive.”
Gould said going further and identifying service animals would put the county “in a bind” that would pull it into “a quagmire.”
Steward pointed out that asking what type of service an animal performs helps identify those who bring in animals they say provide them with support.
“A lot of people use that to get animals into the facility,” Steward noted.
Support animals don’t go through the rigorous training that certified service animals receive. Service animals are taught to develop virtually unshakable focus on their owner and that person’s needs for which the animal is meant to fulfill. Support pets are simply beloved companions, according to the National Service Animal Registry.
A service animal exhibiting out-of-control behavior or displaying that it’s not housebroken isn’t allowed free rein. The person who brought in a misbehaving animal can be asked to remove it, according to ADA Title II regulations.
Quite a few county employees had no idea they could ask that animals be taken outside if they are being naughty in those specified ways.
If there’s an animal attack on county property, “are we liable?” Gould asked.
Steward’s response was that liability comes into play when pretty much anything bad happens on county property.