Some individuals with disabilities utilize the services of trained animals to directly assist them with activities of daily living. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) refers to such animals as “service animals.”
Regulations from the United States Department of Justice implementing the ADA clarify that the term “service animal” refers to a dog or miniature horse that is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability,” including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals to impending seizures or protecting individuals during one, alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship, however, do not constitute work or tasks that would qualify a particular animal as a “service animal” under the ADA.
The College is committed to ensuring that students with disabilities, who need service animals, are able to maintain such animals on campus. The Disability Services Coordinator at the College will meet with the student to engage in an interactive process and develop a plan tailored to the needs of the student and the College, in cases where there are concerns about the safe use of a service animal.
Students who need Service Animals
Students with disabilities desiring to use a service animal on campus must register with the Office of Disability Services. A student with a disability who uses a service animal and who resides in College-owned housing is required to alert the Disability Service Coordinator (717) 358-5988, in advance, of the student’s desire to house the animal in College-owned housing. Different issues, responsibilities and documentation requirements may apply in the context of housing for students with disabilities who use a service animal.
- A letter of need provided by a licensed professional (physician, psychologist, etc.) is necessary to establish that the animal is required because of a disability.
- Certifying agency information if the service animal has an agency affiliation, or a certificate of service animal training clearly identifying what work the animal has been trained to perform.
- Veterinary verification that the animal has all veterinary recommended vaccinations to maintain the animal’s health.
No service or assistance animal is permitted to reside in student housing without advanced written approval from the College.
Service Animal Use on Campus
Generally speaking, individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of the College where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees, as relevant, are permitted to go. The following conditions apply:
- Care and supervision of service animals is the responsibility of their owners, not the College.
- A service animal must remain under the control of its handler at all times. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether unless either the handler is unable, because of disability, to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control, for example, through voice commands, signals or other effective means.
Removal/ Exclusion of Service Animal
The College reserves the right to exclude/ remove a service animal from accompanying its handler if admission of the service animal would impose a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Removal of a service animal may also be required if it is disruptive or/ and if the behavior is outside the duties of the service animal. In such a situation, the individual with a disability will still be permitted to attend and/or participate in the activity without the animal.
The College may request that a service animal be excluded from a particular program or activity if the service animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it, or if the animal is not housebroken.
In addition, the College 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. Restricted locations may include, but are not limited to; research laboratories, and classrooms with demonstration/ research animals.
Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting the Disability Services Coordinator. In making decisions, the Disability Services Coordinator will consult with the appropriate department, laboratory representative or Human Resources regarding the nature of the restricted area and any on-going research.
Therapy Animal Policy
A therapy animal means an animal with good temperament and disposition, and who has reliable, predictable behavior, selected to accompany people with disabilities. The animal may be incorporated as an integral part of a treatment process. A therapy animal does not assist an individual with a disability in the activities of daily living and generally does not accompany a person with disability all the time unlike a service animal that is always with a person with a disability. A therapy animal is not considered to be a service animal under this regulation or other disability law. There is no legal requirement that individuals have the animals accompany them in public.
Requests to have a therapy animal in campus housing or on campus are considered requests for accommodation and will be reviewed on an individualized basis. Individuals making requests must establish that they experience a documented disability and must also establish that the animal is indeed providing essential therapeutic benefit related to the documented disability.
Companion Animal Policy
A companion animal is a domestic animal kept for pleasure, companionship, and/or feelings of safety. A companion animal is a pet and although pets are known to provide benefits to owners both with and without disabilities, the benefit is general. The animal is not specifically required on the basis of disability. Companion animals are not allowed on campus or in any of the campus housing.
Individuals wishing to request a modification to this policy as a reasonable accommodation should contact the Disability Services Coordinator (if a student) or Human Resources (if an employee).
Policy Maintained by: Human Resources, Associate Vice President
Last Reviewed: July 25, 2016