Vt. to allow monkeys as service animals

June 3, 2010 at 11:08 AM

WILLISTON, Vt., June 3 (UPI) -- A Vermont woman with multiple sclerosis said she is looking forward to receiving a service monkey under a new law she helped bring about.

Judy Zappia, 58, of Williston, who is wheelchair-bound, said she believes the Capuchin monkey she is due to receive will be able to provide assistance with household tasks, USA Today reported Thursday.

Zappia will get the animal from Helping Hands, a Boston-based non-profit organization that breeds and trains less-than-10-pound Capuchin monkeys,

The state Legislature, with input from Zappia, recently approved a law that would allow monkeys to be imported under limited circumstances. It requires annual inspection visits to recipients' homes to check the animal's health and living arrangements, USA Today reported.

Monkeys are considered exotic animals and their importation is illegal because of concerns about aggressive behavior and disease, said Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche.

"I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also a little nervous," Zappia said.

"We're very supportive of assistance animals in general, but this probably isn't the best choice," said Gail Golab, director of animal welfare for the American Veterinary Medical Association. "Monkeys are very intelligent, which is why they are used as service animals, but that can also make them dangerous,"

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it opposes using monkeys as service animals.

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