Lawmaker wants 'Service Monkey' bill, expert calls it 'worst idea ever'

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JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It's something that's stirring up quite a few opinions.

"Poorly conceived, poor public policy," stated April D. Truitt, Executive Director of the Primate Rescue Center.

Truitt did not hide her disapproval for a newly proposed Kentucky legislation that would allow for monkeys to be considered for service animals.

"Bad idea. This is the worst idea ever," she said, explaining that monkeys are wild animals and do not belong in the the home as a pet or service animal.

Senator John Schickel, from Boone County, made this proposal in the State Senate on Wednesday, and to the Agriculture Committee on Friday. His bill would allow monkeys, specifically designated capuchin monkeys that are individually trained, to live a person's home and perform tasks that the paralyzed person might be unable to perform day-to-day.

He stipulates the person must have a permit and may even have to provide medical documentation of their paralysis to the permit authorities. Also, the bill states the service monkey would only be allowed in the person's home and not in public places.

Senator Schickel did not return our calls for comment.

"It's not a good idea," Truitt continued, "Everybody seems to know that, except perhaps Senator Schickel, who I'm hoping will get this message."

Yet programs, nationwide, are already putting these primates to work.

"It evidently takes up to ten years to train a monkey for this purpose. Their success stories are few," described Truitt, "There have been several accounts of these assistant animals turning on their human quadriplegics."

Truitt elaborated that this method can be bad for the monkeys, too.

"They remove every tooth in their head so as to prevent injury to their human caretakers," she said, "If your viewers had to consider doing that for say a seeing-eye dog, there would be a terrible uproar."

Much like the uproar she's already starting about this piece of proposed legislature. Already Truitt has contacted another state legislator to voice her dissent. She is hoping to talk with Senator Schickel and explain her views on this bill.

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