You may not be surprised to learn that dogs are by far the most common service animals, assisting people in many different ways since at least 1927. However, the dog is not the only animal that has been used as a service animal. In fact, there are many other, less usual creatures that have been used to help their human owners. From ferrets and hedgehogs to dolphins and kangaroos, here are 25 Of The Strangest Pets To Be Used As Service Animals.
A pot-bellied pig named Elvis was used as a service animal by a blind teen Alisha Doolittle. Doolittle described Elvis as amiable and well-behaved but she had problems obtaining his certification as local authorities classified Elvis as a farm animal and not a service animal.
Llamas are friendly and easy-to-train animals which is why they are sometimes used as therapy animals. They are extremely curious and pleasant to be around, which makes them particularly popular among kids.
Parrots are known to be very empathetic and tuned into the emotional environment around them. They can sense stress and tension, anger and distress in their owners, before these feelings break the surface. In a famous case, a bi-polar man relied on his African grey parrot to intuit when a rage-like episode was coming on and encourage him to calm down.
Rats can be used as therapy animals for children with developmental disabilities as their small size may be less threatening to some children. Rats have also been trained as service animals, to identify damaging muscle spasms for people whose ability to sense this has been compromised by their disability.
There have been several cases of iguanas serving as therapy animals. Joseph Wayne Short from Maryland said his 4-ft (1.2 m) long iguana helped him keep calm and Cosmie Silfa from California had an iguana named Skipper who was qualified a “service iguana” by his psychiatrist who had been treating Mr. Silfa for depression.