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Service Animals

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Clarkson University Policy on Service Animals

Definition: Service animals are animals trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as "...any dog 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."

This definition means that
1) The dog is required because of a disability and
2) The service dog has been trained to do specific work or tasks related to the disability

If a dog meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified as such by a state or local government or an animal training program. Clarkson University complies with the ADA in allowing use of service animals for both short-term and long-term students and employees.

Types of Service Dogs:

  • Guide Dog is a carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool for persons with severe visual impairments or who are blind or have low-vision.
  • Hearing Dog is a dog that has been trained to alert a person with significant hearing loss, or who is deaf, when a sound such as a knock on the door occurs.
  • Service Dog is a dog that has been trained to assist a person who has a mobility or health impairment. Types of duties the dog may perform include: carrying, fetching, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, helping a person up after the person falls, etc. Service dogs are sometimes called Assist Dogs.
  • Seizure Response Dog is a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. How the dog serves the person depends on the person's needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure, or the dog may go for help. A few dogs are capable of predicting a seizure and can warn the person in advance.

Long-Term versus Short-Term Use of Service Animals

For purposes of this policy, the University differentiates between individuals who are students or employees (long-term use of a service animal) versus visitors.

Short-term visitors (1-7 days) are, of course, free to use a service animal on campus and may feel free to contact the Office of Accommodative Services with any questions or concerns.

Students using a service animal on campus should contact the Office of Accommodative Services to register their dog and discuss any accommodations appropriate to the functional limitations of the disability.

Faculty or staff using a service animal on campus should first contact the Office of Human Resources.

Responsibilities of the Long-Term Handler/Partner

Respond to inquiries from OAS regarding whether the animal is required due to a disability and what work or task the dog has been trained to perform.

Provide evidence of current clean health certificates and vaccinations (required).

Provide evidence of current New York State dog license.

Responsibilities of the Office of Accommodative Services

Ask if the service animal is required due to a disability and that it is trained to perform work or a task.

Collect and keep on file evidence of New York State dog licensing and current health certificates.

Notify appropriate personnel/campus offices of the animal and handler/partner.

Provide guidelines to the campus for appropriate interaction with the animal.

Requirements for Others in the Clarkson Community - Faculty, Staff and Students

Allow a service animal to accompany the handler/partner at all times and everywhere on campus.

Do not pet a service animal; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from required tasks.

Do not feed a service animal. The service animal may have specific dietary requirements. Unusual food or food at an unexpected time may cause the animal to become ill.

Do not deliberately startle a service animal.

Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from his or her service animal.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is explicit that the following animals are not considered service animals under the ADA and ADAAA:

  • Any animal besides dogs (though there is a special provision permitting miniature horses in some cases);
  • Animals that serve solely to provide a crime deterrent effect; and
  • Emotional support, comfort or companionship animals.

Comfort animals are not covered by the ADA; they fall under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations. Any student with a comfort animal needs to work with the Dean of Students and designees. All decisions are made on a case by case basis. Pets are not allowed in any campus buildings under Clarkson University policy.