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Task force given deadline to reply to civil rights lawsuit over service dogs

Service Dog registration form

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A federal judge in California has granted a joint motion, giving certain members of the ASG COVID-19 Task Force until Sept. 14th to respond to the amended complaint filed by local resident “Jane Doe” who alleges that the task force rules which prohibit pets from entering the territory, is discriminatory and against the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA) pertaining to service animals.

While American Samoa has implemented new rules effective for 120-days from July 2nd, allowing service animals to enter the territory, plaintiff claims in her amended complaint filed early last month that the new rules are “a sham to make the case appear moot.” (See Samoa News edition Aug. 5th for details.)

Defendants were given until Aug. 24th to respond to the amended complaint, but in a joint motion filed last week with the US District Court, Central District of California, the parties say that they “are exploring an informal resolution of this matter.”

The parties are also meeting-and-conferring about the myriad and complex issues raised by the amended complaint. And parties have not concluded that process, according to the joint motion. 

On Aug. 18th, the parties agreed that the defendants may have until Sept. 14th to respond and requested the court for the extension of time to reply, which US District Court Judge John W. Holcomb granted on Monday this week.

Through a rule making regulatory process, ASG’s Repatriation Program now allows the import of Service Animals (SA) and Emotional Support Animals (ESA) into American Samoa via Hawaii. The new emergency rules — Quarantine of Pets and Agriculture Products — became effective on July 2nd. (See Samoa News online July 7th for details.)