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Requesting and Receiving Accommodations

Service Animals

Definitions:

  • Service Animal: Any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Service animals are usually dogs but other animals have been used as service animals.
  • Partner/handler: A person with a service or therapy animal. A person with a disability is called a partner; a person without a disability is called a handler.
  • Team: A person with a disability, or a handler, and his or her service animal. The two work as a cohesive team in accomplishing the tasks of everyday living.
  • Therapy Animal: A therapy animal does not assist an individual with a disability in the activities of daily living. Therefore, they are not protected by laws for service animals.

Types of Service Dogs (Animals):

  • Guide dog is a trained dog that serves as a travel tool by persons who are blind or have severe visual impairments.
  • Hearing dog is a dog who has been trained to alert a person with significant hearing loss or who is deaf when a sound (e.g., when a knock on the door) occurs.
  • Service dog is a dog that has been trained to assist a person who has a mobility or health impairment. Types of duties the dog may perform include carrying, fetching, opening doors, ringing door bel ls, activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, helping a person up after the person falls, etc. Service dogs are sometimes referred to as assistance dogs.
  • Sig dog is a dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g. hand flapping). A person with autism may have problems with sensory input and need the same support services from a dog that a dog might give to a person who is blind or deaf.
  • Seizure response dog is a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder; how the dog serves the person depends on the person's needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure or the dog may go for help. A few dogs have somehow learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance.

Documentation Requirements:

The partner of the service animal may be asked to show proof that the animal has met the following regulations:

  • Licensing: The animal must meet the licensing requirements of the city and wear the tags designated by the city. (For nonresidents, home state tags may be accepted in lieu of the city tags as long as the requirements are met.)
  • Health Records: The animal should have a health statement, including vaccinations from a licensed veterinarian dated within the past year. Generally, legitimate assistance animals are well groomed and receive excellent veterinary care, including an annual checkup. A veterinarian's statement within the past 12-15 months as to good health is necessary. Preventative measures should be taken at all times for flea and odor control. Consideration of others must be taken into account when providing maintenance and hygiene of assistance animals.
  • Minimum Training Standards: Verification that the animal meets those minimum training requirements as prescribed by Assistance Dogs International (or any other recognized service animal training organization).
  • Identification: The animal should wear some type of commonly recognized identification symbol.

Control Requirements:

  • The animal must be on a leash when on duty and accompanying the partner on campus or in connection with University activities; never is it allowed to wander around off leash.
  • The partner must be in full control of the animal at all times.
  • The animal must be as unobtrusive as possible.
  • Exclusion for behavior: A service animal may be excluded from the campus when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Although the campus may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should generally give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of staying without having the service animal on the premises.
  • Consequences for behavior: When an assistance animal is determined out of control as reported by students, staff or administration, the infraction should be treated on an individual basis. If the animal poses a threat to the safety of other students, complaints should be investigated by Safety and Security. A report of findings should be issued by Safety and Security to determine appropriate consequences. The Judicial Officer (or designee) should make a determination of the consequences based on the provided information. Consequences may include but not be limited to muzzling a barking animal, requiring completion of approved refresher training for both the animal and the partner, or exclusion from University facilities. An outline of standard procedures for judicial process can be found in the Student Handbook.

Public Etiquette by Animal:

  • The animal must not be allowed to sniff people, store shelves, dining tables or the personal belongings of others.
  • The animal must not initiate contact with someone without the partner's direct permission.
  • The animal must not display any behaviors or noises that are disruptive to others, such as barking, whining, growling or rubbing against people while waiting in lines. This includes aggressive behaviors.
  • The animal must avoid personal grooming in public settings such as excessive scratching or licking its genital areas.
  • The animal must not block an aisle or passageway.
  • The animal must never be more than 12 inches from the partner's leg or side of the chair.
  • The animal must be trained to not be attracted to food that may be sitting around.

Public Etiquette by Students and Employees:

  • Do not pet a service animal. It distracts them from the task at hand and service animals are very protective.
  • Do not feed a service animal.
  • Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from his/her service animal.
  • Do not hesitate to ask a student if he/she would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction to turn, an accessible entrance, entrance to an elevator, etc.

Relief Areas: Relief areas should be designated throughout the campus and the handler or partner should clean up after the animal. Locations of relief areas should be included in mobility and orientation of new students to the campus.

It is the student's responsibility to be aware of the dog's needs to relieve itself and act accordingly. In the event that the student does not get the animal to the designated relief area, it is the student's responsibility to remove the waste and properly dispose of feces.

Bathing and Bedding (when the team is living on campus):

  • Bathing: The partner will be expected to take preventative measures for flea and odor control. The team should be sensitive to the residential community where other people may be impacted by the presence of a service animal. The partner will be expected to bathe the service animal on a regular basis in the residence hall bathrooms. The Peer Advisor of that floor should notify cleaning services on days the service animal has been washed to ensure that any remaining dirt or animal hair gets cleaned up in a timely manner.
  • Bedding: The partner will be responsible for providing appropriate bedding for the service animal. This will allow the service animal to have a comfortable place of its own when not on duty.

Areas of Safety:

There are certain instances when it may be considered unsafe for animals, such as medical facilities, laboratories, mechanical rooms or any other place where the safety of the animal or partner may be threatened. Each place should be assessed for its safety potential by a team of individuals, such as the laboratory director, faculty, and the director of Safety and Security.

If an area is determined unsafe for the team, reasonable accommodations should be provided to assure the student equal access to the activity.

Emergency Situations:

In the event of an emergency, the Emergency Responders (e.g., Security Officers) that respond should be trained to recognize service animals and to be aware that the animal may be trying to communicate the need for help. During emergencies the animal may become disoriented from the smell or smoke in a fire, from sirens or wind noise, or from shaking and moving ground. The partner and/or animal may be confused by the stressful situation. The ER should be aware that the animal is trying to be protective. The ER should make every reasonable effort to keep the animal with its partner. However, the ER's first effort should be toward the partner; this may necessitate leaving an animal behind in certain emergency evacuation situations.

Conflicting Disabilities or Health Issues:

It is common for persons to have an allergic reaction to animals. Persons making an asthmatic/allergy/medical complaint should be directed to file a complaint with Safety and Security or DSS. The person making the complaint should show medical documentation to support the complaint. Actions should be taken to consider the needs of both persons and to resolve the problem as efficiently and expeditiously as possible.

Housing:

The guidelines herein also apply to students with animals who reside in on-campus housing. If there is an allergy/animal conflict within the housing unit that cannot be resolved agreeably, the Fair Housing Act (1988), which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of a disability, must be considered.

First-person rights: If the first person allowed in the housing unit uses a service animal and another person comes along with serious allergies, the first person should not be moved to accommodate the second person.

Extreme Caution:

A service animal is used by individuals with disabilities to facilitate access. In the absence of case law, the following guidelines, until proven otherwise discriminatory, should be used when a student with a service animal does not identify themselves to the DSS office.

  • If a student is consistently seen on campus with an animal that is identified by a jacket or some other symbol that it is a service animal, that student should be encouraged to meet with the DSS office. Safety and Security should report any incidents involving service animals to DSS.
  • If there is any complaint regarding the animal and its behavior, Safety and Security or the Judicial Officer should contact the student and, in collaboration with the Coordinator for DSS, inform the student of the policies regarding service animals.
  • If the student fails to act in accordance with the above, then student conduct actions may be taken.

Adapted from Hill, 2000, 11:1.

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