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What is a Service Animal?

Defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is “any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability".

A service animal is defined as a dog or a miniature horse. that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks* for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. 

Examples of Work and Tasks Performed

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Regulations

According to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Regulations § 35.104 and § 36.104 (2010), examples of work and tasks performed by service animals include, but are not limited to:

  • guiding people who are blind or have low vision
  • alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • providing non-violent protection or rescue work
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • assisting an individual during a seizure
  • alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
  • retrieving items
  • 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
  • reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, or
  • calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack.

It’s important to note crime deterrence, safety or the provision of comfort or emotional support do not constitute "work or tasks" under the ADA.

Responsibilities of the Handler

  • Under the ADA, 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 must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
  • If the service animal causes damage to college property, and the College normally would charge an individual for the damage they cause, then an individual with a disability may be charged for the damage caused by the service animal.
  • Individuals with disabilities who utilize a service animal are not required to present medical documentation to the College; however, students are strongly recommended to register with the Office of Disability Services for disability-related accommodations.
  • Handlers must comply with any laws relating to animal care, vaccination, owner identification, and animal licensing.
  • Handlers must maintain control of the animal and take appropriate steps when the animal is not in control.
  • Handlers must walk, feed, clean up after the animal and dispose of any waste in the appropriate trash receptacle.

Responsibilities of PHSC Employees

  • Ensure equal access and nondiscrimination of individuals with disabilities.
  • When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two 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 cannot ask about the 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.
  • Do not pet or feed a service animal.
  • Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a classroom, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
  • A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove the service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the animal is not housebroken (3) the handler refuses to clean up after the animal (4) the service animal is not allowed in a specific location due to legitimate health or safety reasons. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
  • Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
  • Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.