- Linfield College
Learning Support Services

FAQ about Service Animals and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

 Both public and private colleges and universities must provide equal access to post-secondary education for students with disabilities. Title III of the ADA covers privately-funded schools. All schools that receive federal funding are required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to make their programs accessible to students with disabilities which includes providing access for people with disabilities that utilize service animals. 

What is a service animal?

Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.

What does "do work or perform tasks" mean?

The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example,  a person with a physical disability may use a dog for mobility assistance. A person who is blind or low vision may use a dog for orientation and navigation purposes. A person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may have a dog that performs specific duties during an anxiety attack or reminds the handler to take their medication. A person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert them when their blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A dog may detect seizures or perform a task in response to a seizure. There are numerous tasks that a service animal can be trained to perform and there is not an approved task list which makes a dog eligible. 

What is the difference between an Assistance Animal, Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal?

For the purpose of this resources, Assistance Animals or Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are an accommodation related to Housing as opposed to a public accommodation. All guidance on this particular webpage refers to Service Animals and not other forms of Assistance Animals or pets. 

Does the ADA require services animals to be trained by specific agencies?

No. There is not specific professional service dog training programs or licenses that are required for a dog to become a service animal.

Are services-animals-in-training considered service animals under the ADA?

No. Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, Oregon law provides consideration for service animals in training. Service animals in training are still required to meet behavioral requirements even if the animal is still in training.  

General Rules

What questions can staff ask to determine if a dog is a service animal?

In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only 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 are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability.

Do service animals have to wear a vest or patch or special harnesses identifying them as service animals?

No, the ADA does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harnesses. However, the ADA does stipulate that service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work. Linfield students can choose to get an ID card for their service animal but it is not a requirement.

Who is responsible for the care and supervision of a service animal?

The handler is responsibility for caring for and supervising the service animal, which includes toileting, feeding, grooming, and veterinary care. College employees are not obligated to supervise or otherwise care for a service animal.

What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my classroom or business?

The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where community members are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other members in the community. 

Do establishments with a clearly posted "no pets" sign/policy have to allow service animals in?

Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your "no pets" policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your "no pets" policy altogether, but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.

Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?

No. Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.

Can service animal be any breed of dog?

Yes. The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be service animals.

Can individuals with disabilities be refused access to a facility based solely on the breed of their service animal?

No. A service animal may not be excluded based on assumptions or stereotypes about the animal's breed or how the animal might behave. However, if a particular service animal behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, has a history of such behavior, or is not under the control of the handler, the animal may be excluded. If an animal is excluded for such reasons, staff must still offer their services to the person without the animal present.

Concerns about a student and their animal

If you are unsure about whether a student has a service animal or how to make accommodations in your building or classroom, please contact Learning Support Services. If an animal presents a safety threat, please ask the owner of the animal to remove the animal from the space in question. If you are not in a position to ask the animal to be removed, or the request is refused, please contact Public Safety 

Exclusion of Service Animals

Under what circumstances can a service animal be asked to leave or not allowed participation in the classroom or on campus?

  1. If a service animal is found to be barking repetitively or not under control of the handler;

  2. If a service animal shows aggression towards their handler or other members of the campus or the community;

  3. If a service animal is physically ill;

  4. If the service animal is unreasonably dirty;

  5. Any place on campus where the presence of a service animal causes danger to the safety of the handler or other students/members of the campus community; or

  6. Any place on campus where a service animal's safety is compromised.

What does under control mean? Do service animals have to be quiet and not bark?

The ADA requires that service animals be under the control of the handler at all times. In most instances, the handler will be the individual with a disability. Under control means that a service animal should not be allowed to bark repeatedly in a lecture hall, theater, library, or other quiet places. However, if a dog barks just once, or barks because someone has provoked it, this would not mean that the dog is out of control.

 

Resources : U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section and ADA National Network (2017).

ADA Guidance for Service Animals