Service Animals for Students with Disabilities
What is a service animal?
Service animals are defined as dogs or miniature horses (permitted on a case-by-case basis) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to:
- Guiding people who are blind
- Alerting people who are deaf
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
- Reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications
- Calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack
Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a service animal has been trained to do must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Where are service animals allowed to go?
Service animals are allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of a facility where the public is normally allowed to go.
Some restrictions may be appropriate, however, if the presence of the animal would compromise the integrity of the setting, such as a sterile environment.
How should service animals be controlled?
Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In these cases, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective controls.
Questions About Service
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions:
- Is the service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation or training documentation for the animal, or ask for a demonstration of the ability to perform the work or task.
Pet Allergies and Fears
Allergies and fear are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.
When a person who is allergic to dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
Asking a Service Animal to Leave
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his or her animal from the premises unless one of these conditions exists:
- The animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it.
- The animal is not housebroken.
When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.