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Office of Disability Services

Morehead, KY 40351
Phone: 606-783-5188
Fax: 606-783-9190

MSU Home :: Service Animals

Service Animals

Regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, define a service animal as any DOG that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  Other species of animals, whether trained or untrained, are not considered service animals, with the singular exception of trained miniature horses in certain situations.  Note: residence halls are further regulated by the Fair Housing Act, which unlike the ADA addresses untrained emotional support animals within an individual’s personal living space. Students wishing to qualify should contact the campus Housing office at about the application and documentation required. 

If someone enters a campus building or attends a sponsored outdoor event accompanied by a dog and the need for it is not readily apparent, University personnel may legally ask that person two questions:

  • Is this a trained service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or tasks is the animal trained to perform?

If the answers indicate that the dog is a pet or a comfort/emotional support animal, then the University’s ordinary policies would apply. Otherwise, the dog is allowed to go wherever the person with a disability is entitled to go (including classrooms, offices, dorms, cafeterias, with the exception of hazardous or sterile environments such as campus surgical labs).  

NOTE: Service animals do not require pre-approval by the Disability Services office in order to be brought on campus nor is Housing's permission needed to reside with the handler in a dorm or apartment. However, it is important to give advance notice to Housing since they must keep a roster of all residents and there could be impacts on other areas, such as routinely scheduled pesticide spraying, roommate assignment, etc.  A fee or pet deposit will not be charged, however the student-handler will be responsible for costs of any damages caused by the animal.

What University personnel should NOT do:

  • Ask for a demonstration of what the animal is trained to do
  • Ask about the nature or limits of the person’s disability or for related documentation
  • Ask for a license or documentation to prove the dog’s training
  • Segregate the person using a service animal from others.  Special arrangements may be appropriate under limited circumstances (e.g., in same classroom with someone with a documented disability involving severe allergy or phobia).
  • Require that the dog be on a leash if performance of its duties would be reduced or if tethering is prevented by the handler’s disability, so long as the dog remains under verbal or signal control.
  • Require that the dog wear special identifying tags, harnesses, or capes
  • Pet or feed the dog or allow others under their supervision to do so
  • Tolerate disruption of a class or event by the dog’s behavior (e.g., barking, not housebroken, acts aggressively, etc.).  If the handler cannot bring it under control, personnel will be justified in requiring the dog’s removal, although its handler must be permitted to return without it or with a replacement service animal.

Complying with applicable laws is very important, but not to be overlooked is the valuable, even ingenious, assistance that these animals provide to persons with disabilities.  To facilitate, or at least not to interfere or offend, it is also important to gain some knowledge of the etiquette covering this situation.

What University personnel and other students SHOULD do

  • Resist the (sometimes powerful) urge to interact with a service animal.  The intensive training that resulted in a dog remarkably attentive to the needs of its handler could be compromised by distractions and efforts of others to bond with it.  Privately, the dog receives much affection from its handler and may be petted by anyone he/she permits, but in public, it is “on-duty”.
  • Regard the care and supervision of the dog as the sole responsibility of its handler.  Training in practical matters (waste elimination, provision of food and water, healthcare, etc.) occurred prior to the two being paired.  
  • Remember that a person with a disability, though accompanied by a service dog, would appreciate being approached as… a person.  When the presence of the dog is repeatedly seen as the only “draw” for a conversation, it can become tiresome or even offensive.  Speak to the person, not to the dog.

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