Horse News

Washington State Man Fighting for Right to Use a Service Horse

by Danielle Leigh as published on

“It is pretty clear cut. There shouldn’t be a problem, because any city should be modifying it’s rules if they affect people with a disability,”

Tim Fulton of Benton City is fighting the city to keep his service animal, a Shetland Pony. (Photo: KING)

Tim Fulton of Benton City is fighting the city to keep his service animal, a Shetland Pony. (Photo: KING)

A dispute over disability rights is underway in Eastern Washington, where a Benton City man says the city has denied him the use of his service animal.

Tim Fulton uses what he describes as a miniature horse named Fred to complete the daily walks he says his doctor ordered to strengthen his lungs and prolong his life.

“I fall down from time to time,” Fulton said. “It’s really a pain.”

Fred is slightly taller than a large dog, but Fulton says, he is exponentially stronger, which gives Fulton the added stability he needs.

Fulton said he has had multiple surgeries, a cancer scare, cataracts, two detached retinas, and a PTSD diagnosis, leaving him barely able to see or stand for long periods of time.

“He would feel me start to waiver and he would pull in front of me and stop, and I would lean against him,” Fulton said. “Fred does a lot of stuff for me, helps me out.”

Because Benton City doesn’t allow horses in residential zones, it issued Fulton a $100 violation and demanded he relocate the animal.

“They violated my human rights, they violated my civil rights, and they violated the 13th amendment,” Fulton said.

“That is discrimination, and the city is violating the federal law designed to protect someone with a disability,” said David Carlson, director of legal advocacy at Disability Rights Washington. “There are good reasons why someone might use a small horse as a service animal and if someone does that you can’t say well you can’t live in our town.” – (CONTINUED)

4 replies »

  1. We have found service animals come in all shapes and sizes. Just yesterday some airlines were complaining about the varieties showing up on air planes. Personally I enjoy animals on a flight. I don’t care if its a chicken, marmaset money or a kangaroo! But this city needs to wake up because they are finding equines have real need in healing. I have said it many times the outside of a horse is the best thing for the inside of a human. I don’t believe a large dog could help a man up. The Shetland would seem better at holding the man up. I agree its splitting hairs on a mini horse and the Shetland. The city needs to give it up and let the man have his Shetland if that provides his support. Its only going to cost the people of the community the cost of attorneys fees and court costs if they fight this. It is a waste of time Upsetting this man and his pony!


  2. So the city would be OK with a miniature horse – just not a “large” shetland pony! I really doubt they can win with that kind of reply!


Leave a Reply to Gail Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.