SRTC Guidance on Accommodating Service Animals on Campus
Service Animal ADA Definition
Any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability and the work or task is directly related to the individual’s disability. An animal fitting this description is considered a service animal under the ADA regardless of whether the animal is trained under a certified society or is licensed by state or local government. Service animals are working animals, not pets.
In addition to provisions for service dogs, revised ADA regulations have new, separate provisions about miniature horses that have been trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 - 34 inches measured at the shoulders and weigh between 70 - 100 pounds.
The following are examples of how service animals commonly assist individuals with disabilities:
- Guiding individuals who are blind;
- Alerting individuals with hearing loss;
- Pulling a wheelchair for a person with a physical or mobility disability;
- Fetching items or turning on/off light switches; and/or,
- Alerting others or standing guard over a person during a seizure.
The ADA also stipulates that 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.
A person with a disability using a service animal is referred to as a partner. A person without a disability with a service animal is referred to as a handler. Partners and handlers who work together with a service animal are a team.
Management of Service Animal:
- The service animal must be vaccinated and licensed as required by state law and/or local ordinance.
- Service animals must be accompanied by the partner.
- The partner must remain in close proximity to the service animal.
- The service animal must be restrained on a leash at all times unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents the use of a leash.
- The service animal should be responsive to voice commands at all times and be under the full control of the partner.
- To the extent possible, the service animal should be unobtrusive to other students and the learning environment.
- The partner may request that others avoid petting or addressing the service animal as it may distract it from its work, feeding the service animal, deliberately startling the service animal, attempting to separate the partner from the service animal.
- Other students may inquire if the partner needs assistance if there seems to be confusion.
The service animal should not:
- Sniff people, dining facilities tables, or the personal belongings of others.
- Display any behavior or noises that are disruptive to others unless it is part of the service provided to the partner.
- Block an aisle or passageway for fire and/or emergency personnel.
It is the responsibility of the partner to arrange any cleaning necessary due to the presence of the service animal. Excreta must be cleaned immediately and disposed of properly. This includes the college’s common areas and exterior property such as courtyards, walkways, etc.
Service Animal in Poor Health
Service animals that are ill or in poor health should not be taken into public areas. A partner with an ill service animal may be required to remove the animal from college property.
Campus Access for Service Animals
A service animal is permitted to accompany the student anywhere on campus with the following exceptions which are generally off-limits to service animals with reasonable accommodations provided to ensure the student equal access to the academic program or activity:
- Research laboratories – Chemicals found in many labs can be harmful to service animals. Organisms naturally found on most dogs or other animals could negatively impact the outcome of research.
- Mechanical/Electrical/Automotive/Engineering rooms – such locations can have chemicals or machinery that could potentially harm a service animal and service animal may cause disruption to the services provided in the location.
- Medical Centers/Clinicals/Health Science Department – students with service animals must notify and coordinate with the medical personnel staff, health science instructor, or clinical sites in advance of the presence of a service animal to ensure that patient safety is not compromised, as well as the need to minimize risk of exposure to infection or disease for patients and the service animal.
Any other area deemed unsafe or that may pose a danger to service animals. If the area is one where a student must be for a course requirement, alternate arrangements will be considered to provide access.
Service Animals in Training
Georgia law allows a trainer of service dogs to be accompanied in public by a service dog in training (O.C.G.A. 30-4-2). If the student is the trainer, the student is allowed to use/bring onto campus a service dog that is still in training. The law provides that the trainer/student must be identified as a trainer with a service dog training school and the dog must be identified as a service dog in training.
Such dog must be held on a leash and remain under the control of the student raising the dog for an accredited school for seeing eye, hearing, service, or guide dogs; such student has on his or her person and available for inspection credentials from the accredited school for which the dog is being raised; and the dog is wearing a collar, leash, or other appropriate apparel or device that identifies such dog with the accredited school for which the dog is being raised.
In the event of an emergency, responding emergency personnel should be trained to recognize service animals and be aware that the animal may try to communicate the need for help. The animal may become disoriented from the smell of smoke in a fire or siren. Emergency personnel should be aware that a service animal is trying to be protective and should not be considered harmful. Emergency personnel should make every effort to keep the service animal with its partner. However, emergency personnel’s first effort will be to the partner which may necessitate leaving the animal behind in emergency evacuation situations.
Employee Procedures When Encountering a Visitor with an Animal:
1. Politely stop the visitor and notify him/her that pets are not allowed on campus.
2. If the visitor says the animal is his/her service animal, allow the visitor to enter with the animal.
3. If there are questions or concerns about an animal, staff may inquire further to adequately identify the role of the animal by asking ONLY the following two questions:
a. “Is the animal required because of a disability?”
b. “What task(s) or work is your animal trained to perform?”
4. If staff feels a service dog poses a direct threat (i.e. excessive barking or growling/biting others), fundamental alteration, is not under control or not housebroken the staff member should:
a. Notify the Head of Security who is designated to respond to this issue.
b. Designated staff will then ask the handler to correct the situation and bring the dog under his or her control.
6. If the handler does not take effective action to correct the situation, designated staff will ask the handler to remove the service animal from the premises with the understanding that the handler is welcome to return without the animal. The handler will be allowed to return without the animal if he/she desires.
7. Staff and volunteers will report any aggression, injuries, or damages caused by a service animal to the Head of Security, and designated staff will report them to the local animal control agency, regardless of the circumstances. Animal Control determines whether the animal was "at fault."
Emotional Support Animals
SRTC does not allow emotional support animals unless approved by SRTC as a reasonable accomodation.