Animal Law

No Food Stamps for Service Dog, But His Disabled Owner May Now Have a Lawyer


A service dog doesn’t qualify for food stamps, a Pennsylvania court has ruled, because he isn’t human.

But the animal’s disabled owner, James Douris, may not have to argue the legal issue on his own much longer. Although he lost a pro se Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court case arguing that the dog’s nutritional requirements should be taken into account, as a household member, in determining his owner’s food stamp allotment, Douris says his phone has been ringing off the hook since the court’s decision yesterday, reports the L.A. Unleashed blog of the Los Angeles Times.

Among those calling are lawyers who want to help him with an appeal, he says. Even the court that ruled against him, upholding an earlier determination by the Department of Public Welfare, apparently would have liked to see a different result:

“This court is sympathetic to [Douris’] argument that his service dog is a necessity for him due to his disability, and that he lacks the funds to properly feed his service dog,” states Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer in the written opinion. “We hope that there is some other state or federal program that might provide for the maintenance and upkeep of [the] dog.”

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