Assistance Animals: What You Need to Know

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 93 minutes
Recorded Date: May 09, 2017
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  • Introduction to Service and Assistance Animals
  • Assistance Animals Under the FHAA
  • Air Carrier Access Act
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Q & A
Runtime: 1 hour and 33 minutes
Recorded: May 9, 2017


Many individuals—both with and without disabilities—derive emotional support, comfort, and companionship from animals. Assistance animals have proven extremely effective at ameliorating the symptoms of psychiatric disabilities such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, animals are being trained to provide an expanding variety of tasks for persons with both physical and mental disabilities, including alerting diabetics to low blood sugar and persons with epilepsy to oncoming seizures.

Business owners, airlines, and housing providers, including colleges, have questions about their rights and responsibilities regarding assistance animals. Our panel of experts will provide an overview of the applicable laws: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA); discuss recent case law in this area; and provide hypotheticals.

This program was recorded on May 9th, 2017.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Rebecca J. Huss

Professor of Law
Valparaiso University Law School

Rebecca J. Huss is a Professor of Law and the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Law at Valparaiso University Law School in Valparaiso, Indiana. She has also taught at the University of Iowa College of Law, Notre Dame Law School, Stetson University College of Law and Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College. In addition to Animal Law, Professor Huss teaches Non Profit Organizations, Professional Responsibility, Business Associations, Mergers & Acquisitions and other business law courses. Her primary focus in research and writing is on the changing nature of the relationship between humans and their companion animals and whether the law adequately reflects the importance of that relationship as well as analyzing issues relating to service and assistance animals.

Professor Huss is a past Chair of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s Animal Law Committee, and is a Past Chair of the American Association of Law School’s Animal Law Section. She was the 2011 recipient of the Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law award from the American Bar Association’s Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s Animal Law Committee. In 2007 Professor Huss was appointed by the District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia as the guardian/special master in Civil Action No.:3:07CV397, United States v. Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs (the Bad Newz Kennels case).

Professor Huss has a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from the University of Iowa College of Law and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Richmond School of Law. Prior to beginning her academic career, Professor Huss practiced in law firms focusing on corporate issues as well as in-house in the animal health division of a pharmaceutical company. A link to her publications and other biographical information can be found at her faculty webpage available through

Marcy LaHart

Marcy I. LaHart, Esq.

Marcy LaHart is a solo practitioner in Florida with a state wide animal law practice. She has been named Broward County's disability advocate of the year for her advocacy for equal access to housing and places of public accommodation on behalf of people with disabilities that rely upon the support of assistance animals. Marcy represents pet owners and non-profit organizations in a wide variety of civil litigation, including disputes over pet custody, professional negligence and other torts, and defending against "dangerous dog" designations, and has also developed expertise in obtaining access to public records.

Prior to focusing more exclusively on animal law, Marcy represented environmental groups and citizens in issues related to protection of wetlands and water before a variety of administrative tribunals, and was twice named public interest advocate of the year by the Florida Bar's Environmental and Land Use Law Section. She is a member of the Florida Bar's Animal Law Section and the Florida Association of Woman Lawyers.

Gary C. Norman

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Whether as a lawyer, or as a mediator, or as a trusted colleague, you will find Gary C. Norman, Esq. L.L.M. a valuable resource in terms of what it means to be a dynamic citizen lawyer first and also a leader with a disability whose disability amplifies his unique opportunities but does not cap them. He started his public service career as a Presidential Management Fellow. He remains committed to building a legacy of public service, including, through his first state-wide appointment, the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. As such, Gary has a skill set and a personal desire to build his legacy as a public policy leader in brokering others together for more informed, non-partisan, public policy dialogue and development.

Gary has a range of public policy interests, including, but not limited to, the intersection of healthcare and civil rights.

Gary is often found with Pilot at a bistro with his wonderful wife or with Pilot at a coffee house reading his volumes and drinking caf?, if not meeting on animal law and policy or disability law and policy. This notes that one of Gary and Pilot's proudest moments was, in October, 2013, when the brothers of Mount Moriah Number 116 pinned Pilot as the first honorary Master Mason guide dog of Maryland.

He has been proud to speak to numerous groups, and has been honored to be a leader in civil rights dialogue in a range of venues, including, in 2015, when he was honored to be a Visiting Fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute for Politics.

An attorney, a mediator, and a consultant, he served, in 2012, as a Fellow at the American Arbitration Association. In 2009, he received Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the Jaycees of the United States. In 2008, he traveled as a Marshall Memorial Fellow to the European Union.

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