Free Advice: Service-Animal Claim Is Stronger If Animal Not Dressed as Pirate

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Joan Newberger, 66, and her caretaker, James Poole, said they and the four monkeys were dressed as pirates on Bourbon Street during the weekend when police and wildlife agents approached them and seized the small primates. … Newberger said the seizure was illegal because the primates are registered as her "service monkeys" with a group in Texas.

See, here's the thing.

I think people should have the right to dress pretty much however they want, especially on Bourbon Street. If they want to dress like pirates, fine. If they want to dress their monkeys in matching pirate outfits, and the monkeys aren't mistreated, then as far as I'm concerned that's between people and their monkeys. I also support broad service-animal rights for the disabled (Newberger claims to be autistic), and in fact I have successfully represented people making such claims. But the facts have to justify the claims, and here's a free tip from a lawyer with actual experience in this area: having not one but four alleged service monkeys and then dressing those monkeys like pirates and parading them around on Bourbon Street is not going to increase the likelihood your claim will be taken seriously.

Granted, I have not yet handled a case with those specific facts, but I feel comfortable offering that legal opinion anyway.

According to the report, it is illegal to own any primate in Louisiana to begin with, and so this claim is not likely to succeed even if it is otherwise legit. As I have pointed out before, state and/or local laws often do prohibit owning primates, and as I have also noted, that is generally a good thing.