Imagine the quandary a Central Florida restaurant manager faced when a woman walked in with a miniature horse.
Table for two?
This wasn't just any horse, after all. This one is a service horse with its own Facebook page: Honey the Mini Service Horse.
In a world in which people have tried to pass off squirrels, peacocks, hamsters and ducks as service animals or "emotional support animals" in fights with landlords and airlines, the manager of an Ocala First Watch restaurant wasn't sure what to do about Honey.
Or the woman who was hungry as a, well, you get the idea.
So he called the breakfast restaurant's corporate office in University Park, Florida, for some guidance, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
He found out Honey and her owner could be welcomed. (Is oatmeal on the menu?) There's a regulation that says so, the restaurant chain learned.
We reached out to First Watch and got this response:
"On Friday, June 15, a woman came into First Watch in Ocala with her miniature horse. When asked if it was a service animal, the woman confirmed that it was.
"We brought her to a table, where the horse could stand against the wall next to her. Of course our team was a bit surprised, as we’ve never had anyone bring a service miniature horse into one of our restaurants. But we always to do our best to accommodate customers who have legitimate service animals," First Watch spokeswoman Eleni Kouvatsos said in an email to the Miami Herald.
The Americans with Disabilities Act has specific regulations concerning service animals, which the ADA describes as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities."
But the ADA's revised regulations from 2010 also contain a specific provision covering miniature horses, like Honey the Mini Service Horse. Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds, according to ADA guidelines.
In other words, the Triple Crown winner isn't going to be seated next to you as you graze on your Açai Bowl at First Watch.
In part, the ADA regulation states:
"Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility.
"The assessment factors are whether the miniature horse is housebroken; whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility."
Turns out Honey was a fine fit for this particular First Watch, Kouvatsos said.
"The horse seemed to be in the owner’s control, to be housebroken, and not to propose any safety concerns for our other customers or staff in the restaurant, so while unusual, we were happy to accommodate."
Honey lets her Facebook page speak for her.
On Friday, her owner posted on her behalf: "Had a great meal ... or at least watched my handler have a great meal. Everyone was so awesome."