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Guidance about Service Animals

 

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is any guide or signal dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability, and the work is directly related to the individual's disability. An animal fitting this description is considered a service animal under the ADA. There is no requirement that the animal is trained under a certified society or is licensed by state or local government.

In addition to provisions for service dogs, revised ADA regulations have new, separate provisions about miniature horses that have been trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24-34 inches measured at the shoulders and generally weigh between 70-100 lbs.).

The following are examples of how service animals commonly assist individuals with disabilities:

  • Guiding individuals who are blind;
  • Alerting individuals with hearing loss;
  • Pulling a wheelchair for a person with a physical or mobility disability;
  • Fetching items, or turning on/off light switches; or
  • Alerting others or standing guard over a person during a seizure.
  • Calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.

The ADA also stipulates that 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 that case, the individual (“the handler”) must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

 

The Department of Justice has developed guidance on Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA.

 

Laws

The following legislation protects the rights of individuals requiring service animals.
 

TITLE II OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) AS AMENDED

No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by such entity. A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability (including discrimination against persons with disabilities who use service animals), unless the public entity can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.

TITLE III OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) AS AMENDED

Businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, zoos, and parks (U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section).

SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT 1973

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 7(20), shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service.

 

FAQs

  • What are expectations of service animals on campus?

If a service animal is being disruptive in the classroom, the handler will remove the dog and themselves from a classroom;

If the dog’s behavior needs correction, the handler will quietly correct them and give instruction;

A service animal should be vaccinated in accordance with state and local laws; and

The handler must keep the dog in their care and not ask staff to “watch their animal” while they are in class or other location.

  • What are some basic etiquette rules for interacting with service animals and their handlers?

Do not feed or pet service animals when you see them on campus;

Do not try to separate handler from service animal; and

Do not harass or startle a service animal.

  • Under what circumstances can a service animal be asked to leave or not allowed participation on campus?

If a service animal is found to be disruptive in the classroom;

If a service animal shows aggression towards their handler or other members of campus or the community;

If a service animal is physically ill;

If the service animal is unreasonably dirty;

Any place on campus where the presence of a service animal causes danger to the safety of the handler or other students/member of campus; or

Any place on campus where a service animal's safety is compromised.

  • Who is responsible for cleaning up after the dog on campus?

It is the Handler's personal responsibility to immediately clean up or to solicit the proper assistance for cleaning up.

  • What if another student (in housing or in class) or a faculty member has severe allergies, phobias, or other medical issues in response to the dog?

The final determination regarding how to manage the situation will be made on a case-by-case basis. Please contact University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) for further information if a situation of this nature occurs.

  • Are faculty/staff allowed to ask an individual about their service animal’s purpose if one enters their office or classroom?

If it is not obvious that an animal accompanying a student to classrooms or offices is a service animal, faculty/staff may ask two questions:

Is the dog a service animal required because of disability?  

What work or task as the dog been trained to perform?  

Staff cannot ask about a person's disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.  After asking these two questions, please consult with Dr. Dianne Bouvier, the ADA Coordinator in ECRC on final determination of whether or not an animal is a service animal at 740.593.9140 or email access@ohio.edu.

  • What needs to happen if a service animal is behaving aggressively towards their handler or others, or if a handler or other students is behaving aggressively towards a service animal?

Call Ohio University Police Department (OUPD) at 740.593.1911 or your local campus security department.

If there is an emergency related to the service animal or its handler, whom do I contact? Call Ohio University Police Department (OUPD) at 740.593.1911 or your local campus security department.

  • If faculty or staff have any additional questions regarding a student enrolled in their class with a service animal?

Contact Dr. Dianne Bouvier, the ADA/504 Coordinator and Director for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility, ECRC, at 740.593.9140 or email access@ohio.edu

  • What should a handler do if he/she has concerns about his or her ability to use a service animal to access campus facilities and programs?

Handlers who have concerns about any matter affecting their access with a service animal, should contact Dr. Dianne Bouvier, the ADA Coordinator at ECRC, at 740.593.9140 or email access@ohio.edu.

  • If you have a question about an animal that is not a service animal, whom do you contact?

Per the OHIO Animal policy 44.120, pets are not allowed on campus. There are other animals that are allowed under the ADA or other laws. If you are unsure how to handle a situation with an animal that is not a pet, contact Dr. Dianne Bouvier, the ADA/504 Coordinator and Director for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility, ECRC, at 740.593.9140 or email access@ohio.edu

  • Whom do I contact with questions about our responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 about service animals or Ohio University Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Policy 03.003?

Contact Dr. Dianne Bouvier, ADA/504 Coordinator and Director for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility, ECRC, at 740.593.9140 or email access@ohio.edu

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION , CONTACT University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) at 740.593.9140 or access@ohio.edu.

ECRC, Ohio University, November 6, 2017