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Service Animals

According to the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADA), a service animal is "...a dog that has been individually trained to perform a specific, essential task to offset a functional limitation of a person with a disability." Disability categories include physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual and other mental impairments. Other species of animals, whether trained or untrained, are not considered service animals, with the singular exception of trained miniature horses in certain situations. A dog that provides emotional comfort, crime prevention, or companionship is not considered a service animal.
 

Residence Halls

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 and adjacent common use areas. Students wishing to qualify should visit the Emotional Support Animals page.
 

Service animals do not require pre-approval by the Office of Disability Services in order to be brought on campus.  Housing's permission is also not needed for a service dog to reside in a dorm or apartment with its student-handler. However, advance notice must be given to the Office of Student Housing prior to the animal's arrival since an accurate roster must be maintained of all residents. There are other considerations to be discussed with housing as well, such as scheduling of room pesticide spraying, roommate compatibility, emergency evacuations, location of nearest dog-walk areas, etc. A fee or deposit will not be required, although the student will be responsible for the costs of any damages to the room. Service animals must be housebroken prior to arrival on campus.
 

The service animal's handler is responsible for keeping the dog on a leash at all times when outside of the student's own campus residence. The only exception would be if the dog is trained to perform a service that cannot be executed while on-leash or if the handler's limitations prevent him/her from using a leash; in such a case, the handler must instead keep the dog under continuous voice or signal control.  Additional responsibilities of the handler include all care and costs related to the dog, including cleaning and grooming, feeding, exercise, medical treatment and transportation and proper waste disposal.

 

Facilitation & Etiquette

University personnel may ask the following two questions if someone enters a campus building or attends a sponsored outdoor event accompanied by a dog and the need for it is not apparent:

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

If the answers indicate that the dog is a pet or an 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, etc., with the rare exception of hazardous or sterile environments such as campus surgical labs.
 

University personnel MAY NOT:
  • 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, noxious odor due to poor care, 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 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.

 

faculty, staff & fellow student responsibilities

  • Personnel and fellow students should:
  • Resist the urge to interact with a service animal. The intensive training that resulted in a dog's attentiveness 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, grooming, etc.) will have 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 the dog.
  • Report any seeming mistreatment of a service animal on campus to the Dean of Students, 109-B Enrollment Services Center, 606-783-2014.
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