ASG quietly publishes new ruling for service or support animals
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG has already adopted and implemented a new Administrative rule — under the American Samoa Administrative Code (A.S.A.C) — dealing with the importation of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals into the territory.
The ASG Repatriation Program, through a July 2nd notice, announced the new emergency rule allowing the import of Service Animals (SA) and Emotional Support Animals (ESA) into American Samoa via Hawai’i. The rule was due to expire 120 days after becoming effective or upon promulgation of a new rule, which supersede the emergency rule.
The emergency rule came more than two months after a federal lawsuit against certain members of the ASG COVID-19 Task Force was filed Apr. 23rd at the US District Court, Central District of California by a local resident who is a US National and identified in federal court documents as “Jane Doe”.
The lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for violations of the Americans With Disability Act (ADA) against officials of the ASG COVID-19 Task Force in connection with ASG’s ongoing repatriation program.
Plaintiff claims that the Task Force rule, which prohibits pets from entering the territory, is discriminating against service animals and those local residents that genuinely require the assistance of Service Animals. (See Samoa News edition June 10th for details.)
Last month plaintiff filed an amended complaint, and dismissed the new rules as a “sham”, arguing that the case is not moot and still valid.
Samoa News then reported last week Wednesday on Attorney General Fainu’ulelei Alailima-Utu’s sworn declaration filed in the case arguing among other things that before and after plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed, there was no American Samoa statute, no American Samoa administrative rule or regulation or any policy that had the effect of law, which prohibited services dogs from being imported into American Samoa.”
He said the emergency rule on importation of service animals or emotional support animals “will continue as an emergency rule or will be adopted as a regular administrative rule.”
Even before the story was published Samoa News searched the ASG website for any update on what Alailima-Utu was referring to because the government didn’t make any official announcement on the emergency rules, but quietly posted it on the ASG website (www.americansamoa.gov) last Thursday morning creating, “Chapter 3- Quarantine of Pets and Agriculture Products” in the A.S.C.A.
According to the 8-page document, the new rule became effective on July 2nd when it was filed and signed on that date by the Secretary of American Samoa — who is Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale. Alailima-Utu also signed on July 2nd.
The new rule provides an explanation of Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals and that the ASG repatriation program adopts the use of these definitions. All provisions of the emergency rule — as previously reported by Samoa News are now adopted under the “Chapter 3 — Quarantine of Pets and Agriculture Products” in the A.S.C.A.