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Service Dogs, Assistance Animals and More


Ohio University’s Animal Policy prohibits pets and other animals on campus, except under certain specified circumstances. Among those exceptions are service animals, service animals in training, assistance animals, therapy dogs, and police dogs. If a staff member encounters an animal on campus, you may approach the person to seek clarity on its presence.   To better help staff understand the various types on animals that may be found on campus, and the questions you may ask about the animals, below is a brief description of each kind of dog/animal and links to related information. Here is also a chart of 4 types of support animals [pdf]



“Service animals” are recognized under the ADA and defined by the Department of Justice as a dog (or miniature pony) that is trained to provide a specific task related to a person’s disability. A person with a service animal is not required to register with SAS or ECRC, but may find benefit in doing so, as there may be other accommodations that could be put in place that would assist them to have a successful educational or employment experience at the university.  

The DOJ has approved two questions which staff may ask to determine whether an animal is a service dog. In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions:

(1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and

(2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability. For more information, go to the Service Animal Information Page.



“Assistance animals” refer to animals (typically a dog or cat, but this may include other species) that provide  assistance or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability or provides assistance that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. “Assistance animals” are sometimes called “emotional support animals.” Ohio University allows these animals in the residence halls as a requirement under the Fair Housing Act. Their handlers (person who uses the assistance animal) are required to register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). For information assistance animals in the resident halls, refer to the Reasonable Accommodations & Assistance Animals in University Housing.


To bring an assistance animal to other locations, the handler would need to request the assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation through SAS (students) or University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) (employees or members of the public).



A service dog in training is a dog that is in training to perform a task related to a disability, for a person with a disability. The ADA defines service dogs as dogs that are already trained. The Department of Justice defers to state or local laws to regulate animals that are still in training.

Under Ohio law, service dogs in training have the same access to facilities as service dogs, subject to the same expectations established for service dogs. Any dog in training to become a service dog shall be covered by a liability insurance policy provided by the nonprofit special agency engaged in such work. For details about service dogs in training and registration requirements, go to  Service Dogs in Training.



4 Paws for Ability is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to place quality service dogs with children with disabilities and veterans who have lost use of limbs or hearing; help with animal rescue, and educate the public regarding use of service dogs in public places.


The 4 Paws for Ability organization is a registered student organization on campus. Ohio University students are given the opportunity to foster and/or handle a service dog in training. The goal of this organization is to socialize the service dog in training, educate the public about service dogs, and raise funds for children in need of a service dog. The 4 Paws for Ability student organization website provides more information. Students fostering 4 Paws animals meet with their instructors to review the 4 Paws Information Sheet.



“Therapy dogs” are dogs which provide comfort or support to many people, not just one individual with a disability. The Counseling and Psychological Services Office in Athens has a therapy dog, Dug, who often is available for petting and hugging during finals week or other stressful times. 



Alex, a Labrador retriever mix, and Brody, a Belgian malinois, provide support to the Ohio University Police Department (OUPD). The dogs will be brought in for bomb-detecting and to sweep for big events like football games  .  



In cases where there are conflicting disabilities, such as an allergic response to an animal, the person with other disability also has the right to register as a person with a disability, so that their circumstance may be taken into consideration when an accommodation is determined.



Questions about the various kinds of support animals may be directed to: Dianne Bouvier, Director for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility, ADA/504 Coordinator, University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, 740-593-9140, access@ohio.edu.


Ohio University, ECRC, November 6, 2017