Service Animals

What is a Service Animal?

Service animals are specifically defined as a dog or miniature horse individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service animals can be trained to perform various tasks or work to assist an individual with a disability. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • A dog that is trained to alert an individual when blood sugar reaches high or low levels.
  • A dog that is trained to remind an individual to take medication.
  • A dog that is trained to pick up items.
  • A dog that is trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action, such as leading a person away.

A service animal does not need to have any specific identification, such as a vest or collar. Moreover, there are no restrictions on the breed of dog or miniature horse that can qualify as a service animal. Individuals do not need to register with DASS to bring their service dog to campus. A service animal is considered an extension of the person and should be permitted anywhere their handler goes. These same provisions apply to service animals in training.

General Requirements

Service animals on campus must comply with all state and local licensure and vaccination requirements. Under the ADA, an individual who is accompanied by a service animal may not be excluded from an area where the public is generally allowed to go. While in these areas, the individual is solely responsible for taking care of the animal, including toileting, and must maintain control of the animal at all times. The animal should be harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times unless such a device would impact the animal’s ability to perform its task or work. In this case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice commands.

Interacting with Service Animals

To ensure equal access and nondiscrimination of individuals with disabilities, members of the university community must abide by the following practices:

  • Allow service animals to accompany their handlers on campus
  • Do not ask for details about a person’s disabilities
  • Do not pet, interact with, or feed a service animal, as it distracts the animal from its work
  • Do not deliberately startle, tease, or taunt a service animal
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate a person from their service animal
  • Provide individuals with service animals with the right of way 

If the disability is not apparent or it is not obvious what task or work the animal performs, then facility and staff may ask two questions to determine whether the animal is a service animal:

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

If the individual answers “no” to the first question or provides an answer that indicates that the animal does not perform a specific task or work in response to the second question, then the individual may be asked to return without the animal. If the individual answers “yes” to the first question and describes a specific task or work (that goes beyond providing support, comfort, distraction, etc.) that the animal is trained to perform, then the individual and animal should be granted access.

Staff may not ask to see special identification or documentation, that the animal demonstrates the task or work, or about the individual’s disability, or require medical documentation.

Grounds to Exclude a Service Animal

While an individual may not be excluded from space because they are accompanied by a service animal, there are some exceptions when an individual may be asked to remove the animal:

  • If the animal is out of control and the individual does not take immediate steps to control it.
  • If the animal is not housebroken.
  • If the presence of the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. This assessment cannot be based on stereotypes or assumptions about the breed of the animal or individual but must be based on observable facts and circumstances.

It is important to note that fear of dogs or allergies is not enough to exclude a service animal from a facility. If there are concerns about fear or allergies, departments should try to accommodate both parties as much as possible, with the understanding that the animal should not be removed unless one of the other exceptions applies.

Restricted Areas

The university may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health or safety restrictions, where service animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research.

Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting DASS. In making its decision, DASS will consult with the appropriate department and/or laboratory representative regarding the nature of the restricted area and any ongoing research.