Service Animals - Disabled Students Programs and Services

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include 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, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Reference:

Q. What is an emotional support animal?

An emotional support animal is a pet that provides disability-relieving emotional support to an individual, but is not necessarily trained to do so. Unlike with service dogs, service dog laws do not allow emotional support animals (ESAs) to go out in public to places dogs are normally prohibited. ESA owners do have certain legal rights in housing situations and when flying, though ESAs are supposed to be public access trained for flight access.

Q. What is a therapy dog?

Unlike a service dog, a therapy dog is a pet trained to interact with many people other than its handler to make those people feel better. Therapy dogs are also trained to behave safely around all sorts of people, and are often certified.

A therapy dog handler is not given public access rights by any service dog laws to take the dog out everywhere like service dog users, because the handler does not have a disability the dog is individually trained to mitigate. Therapy dogs are only allowed into places like hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and libraries by prior agreement (again, not by service dog laws).

Q. Are service dogs allowed on campus and in classrooms?

Yes. Service dogs are allowed on campus and in classrooms. When it is not obvious what service the dog provides, college officials may ask only two questions:

  1. Is the service dog required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

You may request that the student meet with DSPS office to receive information about the use of a service animal on campus but this is not required under the new law at this time.

Q. May I ask about the nature of the student’s disability

No. It is illegal to ask a person to disclose what their disability is or the reason they have a service dog.

Q. Are animals other than dogs recognized as service animals?

No. Under the law only dogs (or in some instances, miniature horses) are recognized as service animals.

Q. What is considered work or tasks that the dog performs?

The work or tasks performed by a service dog must be directly related to the disability. Examples of such work include:

  • Guiding people who are blind
  • Alerting people who are deaf
  • Reminding a person to take prescribed medication
  • Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Alerting a person when blood glucose levels are low

Q. What if a student in my class or I am allergic or afraid of dogs?

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. It may be possible to accommodate by requesting students use different locations within the classroom or take a different section of the course.

Q. Can I ask for the service dog to be removed from the classroom?

A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove their service animal from the premises unless:

  1. the dog is behaving in a disruptive manner by barking, growling, whimpering, running around, or s attention through behavior or animal clothing uncharacteristic of a service animal; or
  2. the dog is not housebroken or clean; or
  3. the presence of the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other persons that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services; or If you have any of the above 3 concerns, you may request that the service dog (not the student) be removed from class. Refer the student to DSPS for further guidance. Faculty are encouraged to contact DSPS for support.

Q. The student is responsible for:

Having a current dog license, keeping the dog clean and pest free; in a harness or on a leash. Cleaning up after the dog and any harm or injury caused by the animal to other students, staff, visitors, and/or property.

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