Service and Assistance Animals

See below for differences between “Service” and “Assistance” animals.

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Service Animals

Service Animals are trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of independent living.  St. Mary’s University follows the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, in defining a Service Animal as:

A dog that does work or performs tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability (including psychiatric, cognitive, mental).

Other species of animals whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals except that miniature horses* may be used for the benefit of individuals with disabilities.  The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability.

*Miniature Horses are the exception to a Service Animal being “a dog;” limits to the use of a miniature horse may be set based on the horse being: individually trained, handler controlled, housebroken, size/weight in context, and legitimate safety requirements of the specific facility.

Representative examples of work/tasks performed by Service Animals include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
  • Providing non-violent protection or rescue work
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Assisting before, during, and after a seizure
  • Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
  • Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities
  • Helping persons with psychiatric or neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
  • Opening and closing doors.

NoteAnimals that serve solely to provide a crime deterrent effect; or emotional support, comfort, or companionship are not considered services animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADAAA, 2009).

If there are any questions as to whether an animal qualifies as a service animal, a determination will be made by Disability Support Services.

St. Mary’s University will make the following inquiries regarding service animal use, as permitted by law:

  • Is the service animal required because of a disability and what are the pertinent manifestations of the condition?
  • What work or tasks is the animal trained to perform in relation to the identified disability?

Eligibility

The individual with the Service Animal must have a documented disability and must be registered with Disability Support Services as a “student with a disability.”

Requirements of Service Animals and Their Partners/Handlers

  • Identification & Other Tags:  The animal must have tags or some other method of indicating ownership and rabies clearances (as required by local government.)  Typically, service animals are fitted with identifying equipment such as a harness, cape, or backpack as is appropriate.
  • Health & Vaccinations: The animal must be clean and in good health.  Animals to be housed in campus housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian.  Dogs must have had a general maintenance vaccination series against rabies, distemper, and parvo virus.  All vaccinations must be current.  Dogs must wear a rabies vaccination tag (as required by local government).
  • Under Control of Partner/Handler: The partner/handler must be in full control of the service animal at all times.  Typically, the service animal should be on a leash or in a harness; however, animals that are “voice” controlled are also appropriate.
  • Care and Supervision: The care and supervision of a service animal is the sole responsibility of its partner/handler.  The animal must be maintained and used at all times in ways that do not create safety hazards for other persons.
  • Cleanup Rules:
    – Partner/handler must always carry equipment and bags sufficient to clean up the animal’s feces.
    – Partner/handler must properly dispose of feces.
    – Persons who are not physically able to pick up and dispose of feces are responsible for making all necessary arrangements for assistance.  The University is not responsible for these services.

Conditions for Keeping a Service Animal

  • Disruption: The partner/handler of a Service Animal that is unruly or disruptive (e.g., barking, bringing attention to itself, running around, aggressiveness towards others,) may be asked to remove the animal from university facilities.  If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the partner/handler may be told not to bring the animal into any university facility until the partner/handler takes significant steps to mitigate the behavior.  Mitigation may include muzzling a barking dog or refresher training for both the animal and the partner/handler.
  • Ill Health: Service Animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas.  A person with an ill animal may be asked to leave university facilities.
  • Registration Requirement: All Service Animals need to be registered with Disability Support Services.  Failure to register or maintain a Service Animal as required above may subject the partner/handler to fines or refusal by the university for the animal to remain on campus.

Procedures

  • For non-residents, appropriate disability-related documentation must be submitted to Disability Support Services prior to the first day the service animal is brought to campus.
  • A letter with the student’s explanation of the tasks or work the animal has been trained to perform as a disability–related service aid must be submitted.
  • For incoming students who will be residing in one of the campus’ residence halls, requests to have a Service Animal in one of the halls should be submitted to Disability Support Services a minimum of 4 weeks prior to arrival on campus.  Existing residents should submit requests at least six weeks prior to the date the animal is expected to be in residence.
  • Persons who have asthma/allergies/medical issues related to animals are encouraged to make their condition(s) known to Disability Support Services by providing medical documentation to support their claim.  To resolve the problem as effectively as possible, action will be taken to consider the needs of both persons.

Assistance Animals

Assistance Animals, as defined by the Fair Housing Act, provide support, assistance, or service (i.e., dog, cat, bird, or other animal) that includes emotional support or therapy animals.

Eligibility

The individual with the Assistance Animal must have a documented disability* as defined in the Fair Housing Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and must be registered with Disability Support Services as a “student with a disability.”  In addition, the animal must be needed to assist with the disability, and there must be a relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

*Must be credible evidence from a doctor or other medical or social service professional.

Requirements of Assistance Animals and Their Partners/Handlers

  • The individual with the Assistance Animal is responsible for maintaining and controlling the animal at all times
  • Assistance Animals only have access to housing and indoor and outdoor public and common use areas associated with housing; Assistance Animals are not allowed in the University Center, athletic facilities or in any other university building/facility other than the residence halls.

Conditions for Keeping an Assistance Animal

  • Disruption: The partner/handler of a service animal that is unruly or disruptive (e.g., barking, bringing attention to itself, running around, aggressiveness towards others,) may be asked to remove the animal from university facilities.  If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the partner/handler may be told not to bring the animal into any university facility until the partner/handler takes significant steps to mitigate the behavior.  Mitigation may include muzzling a barking dog or refresher training for both the animal and the partner/handler.
  • Ill Health: Assistance Animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas.  A person with an ill animal may be asked to leave university facilities.
  • Registration Requirement: All Assistance Animals should be registered with Disability Support Services.  Failure to register or maintain an Assistance Animal as required above may subject the partner/handler to fines or refusal by the university for the animal to remain on campus.

Procedures

  • For incoming students who will be residing in one of the campus’ residence halls, requests to have an Assistance Animal in one of the halls should be submitted to Disability Support Services a minimum of 4 weeks prior to arrival on campus.  Existing residents should submit requests at least six weeks prior to the date the animal is expected to be in residence.
  • Persons who have asthma/allergies/medical issues related to animals are encouraged to make their condition(s) known to Disability Support Services by providing medical documentation to support their claim.  To resolve the problem as effectively as              possible, action will be taken to consider the needs of both persons.

Basis for Denial or Exclusion

  • The Assistance Animal posses a Direct Threat (individualized assessment will be based on recent, credible, objective evidence relating to a specific animal).
  • Having the Assistance Animal on campus does not pose an undue financial and administrative burden
  • Having the Assistance Animal on campus does not require a Fundamental Alteration