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Monkey Taken To Stores Prompt Health Dept. To Take Action

Last updated on Thursday, August 4, 2016

(JASPER) - A complaint of a monkey being taken into the Save-A-Lot and Walmart on Jasper’s north side prompted county health officials to clarify what animals are allowed in retail food establishments.

Thursday, the Dubois County Health Department received a complaint about the monkey.

Heatlh Director Donna Oeding declined to identify the person who brought the monkey into those establishments.

Jasper Police Chief Michael Bennett says that after the incident, the health department contacted Jasper Police to inform them that if the police are ever called out to a similar incident, law enforcement officials should notify the health department.

That prompted Oeding to explore what constitutes a service animal and what exactly a person is permitted to bring into a food retail establishment.

Monkeys are not classified as service animals by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Only dogs that have been "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual" fall into that category.

"The tasks(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability," a health department press release reads. "An emotional support, therapy, comfort or companion animals are terms used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."

The press release goes on to state that a service animal is not considered a pet and that pets such as monkeys are considered wild animals.

Oeding referenced the Indiana Food Code, which covers rules for retail food establishments with a wide range -- Circle A, mainstream restaurant, grocery store.

The technical definition is "any establishment that stores, prepares, packages, serves, vends or otherwise provides food for human consumption," according to Indiana code.

"Live animals may not be allowed in the operational areas of a retail food establishment."

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