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Service Animals

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ADA Definition

A service animal is a guide or signal dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. ADA recognizes animals regardless of whether the service animal is licensed by local/state governing bodies or is trained under a certified society.

Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, per ADA stipulations, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s trained job 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.

Due to revisions with ADA regulations, a separate provision about miniature horses exists. This allows miniature horses who have been trained to do work for individuals with disabilities.

Some examples of tasks service animals provide are:

  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone;
  • Alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds;
  • Assisting a person who is blind or has low vision with navigation and other tasks;
  • Pulling a wheelchair;
  • Providing assistance with balance and support to a person with a mobility disability; and
  • Assisting a person during a seizure.

For further information regarding the legislation that protects the rights of individuals requiring service animals, the following links have been provided:

Click here to access information regarding title III of the ADA in relation to Requirements for Service Animals

Click here to access information regarding Title II of the ADA

Click here to access information regarding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973

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Responsibilities for Handlers:

  • Handlers are responsible for the care and supervision of the service animal at all times;
  • Handlers are responsible for complying with the Charleston City code including owner responsibilities, licensing, and vaccinations; and
  • Handlers are responsible for ensuring that control is maintained with the animal at all times.

It is the University Community’s responsibility to allow service animals to accompany their handlers at all times and everywhere on campus, except for places where there is a health, environmental, or safety hazard. Please contact the Office of Student Disability Services if you have any questions relating to service animals.

A service animal may be asked to leave if:

  • The service animal is found to be disruptive in the classroom;
  • The service animal shows aggression;
  • The service animal is physically ill;
  • The presence of the service animal causes danger to the safety of the handler or other members of campus; or
  • The service animal’s safety is compromised.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Resources

  • Who is responsible for cleaning up after the dog on campus? Click here
  • Are faculty/staff allowed to ask about the purpose of a service animal? Click here
  • Where can a service animal receive their required license required by the Charleston City Code? Click here
  • What is the basic service animal etiquette for both the public and the animal? Click here
  • Are there any prohibited areas for the service animal? Click here
  • What should be done if a service animal is behaving aggressively towards the handler or another person OR the handler or another person is behaving aggressively towards the service animal? Click here
  • What if another student or a faculty member has severe allergies around animal dander? Click here

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  • Who is responsible for cleaning up after the dog on campus?
    • The handler is responsible for cleaning up after the service animal. This includes if the animal has an accident within a building. If the handler is not physically able to clean up after the service animal, it is the handler’s responsibility to make arrangements for assistance.

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  • Are faculty/staff allowed to ask about the purpose of a service animal?
    • Faculty/staff may only ask two questions if there is a reason to question if an animal is a service animal:
      • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
      • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
      Any further questioning about the individual’s disability or the service animal is not permitted. If you have any further questions regarding service animals, contact the Office of Student Disability Services.

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  • What is the basic service animal etiquette for both the public and the animal?
    • The animal must not sniff people, food, or the belongings of others.
    • The animal must not initiate contact with others.
    • The animal must not display any disruptive behaviors such as barking, whining, or growling or rubbing against people.
    • The animal must avoid grooming behaviors in public.
    • The animal must never be more than 3 feet from the handler.
    • The public must remember that the dog is always working, even if it is sleeping at the feet of the handler.
    • The public must speak to the handler first. Do not do anything to distract or separate the animal from the handler.
    • The public must not touch the service animal without permission from the handler.

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  • Are there any prohibited areas for the service animal?
    • There are prohibited areas for service animals only if there is a danger to the service animal, the handler, will compromise the health and safety of others, or the setting/environment.
    • Service animals are prohibited from kitchens and food-preparation areas except those in apartments and other residence facilities. This does not include dining rooms.
    • Service animals are prohibited from utility rooms and other hazardous service areas (e.g. wood/machine/electrical shops).
    • Service animals may be prohibited from laboratories in which the animal’s presence could compromise the research environment.

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  • What should be done if a service animal is behaving aggressively towards the handler or another person OR the handler or another person is behaving aggressively towards the service animal?
    • Call campus police at (217)581-3212.

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  • What if another student or a faculty member has severe allergies around animal dander?
    • Please contact the Office of Student Disability Services if a situation such as this occurs. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

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