Service Animals

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the service animal must directly relate to the person’s disability.

To determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal, a member of the school’s staff may ask only these two questions:

  • Is the animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

Service animals are not required to be registered with the Specialized Resource Center (SRC), however it is highly recommended that students with service animals notify the SRC if the animal is coming to campus so that we are able to support students with disabilities as fully as possible. It is also recommended that students meet with their lab professors to discuss logistics and lab safety.

Staff or students may contact the Public Safety office or the SRC if any questions or concerns arise relating to the presence of a service animal, to report service animal misbehavior or mistreatment of a service animal.

Important Note Regarding Service Animals

The college may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations because of health and safety restrictions (e.g. where the animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research). Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, the following areas: custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, motor pools, rooms with heavy machinery, and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to animals.

Responsibilities of the Handler

Unless such devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using them, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered.

In all cases, the handler must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

The expense and responsibility to feed, provide health care, and necessary bathing and grooming of a service animal is the sole responsibility of the handler.

The service animal must be in compliance with local licensing laws and be able to provide appropriate and up to date proof of vaccination.

The handler is responsible for removing or arranging for removal of animal waste.

The handler is responsible for instructing others in the college community on appropriate interactions with the animal and setting clear expectations.

Service Dog in Training

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assures people with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals that they will not be excluded from public places or activities, nor charged any additional fees, because they are accompanied by their service dog. However, the ADA does not provide the same protection to service animals in training. The ADA assures access for the handler/partner only if the dog is fully trained to give some disability related service.

In accordance to New York state law a service dog is such that one who is being trained by a “formal training program” or “certified trainer” which is defined as a institution, group, or individual who has documentation and community recognition as a provider of service animals shall have the same rights and privileges set forth for person with a disability.

Because there is no mention of animals in training under the ADA and because New York does not clarify further its use of the term “in training” the university has established policy, based on accepted practices suggested by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). A service-dog-in-training is a dog, accompanied by its trainer, that is undergoing individual training to provide specific disability-related work or service for an individual with a disability. This does not include obedience training or socialization of puppies who may later become service animals (generally 15-18 months). Thus, adult dogs are recognized as being “in training” to provide disability- specific assistance only after they have completed an earlier period of socialization (obedience training, being house broken, getting acclimated to public places and everyday activities as pets.)

As service animals in training in New York are only given access when they are in the company of a certified trainer, they cannot be in residence in university housing, nor be present in other areas of campus such as classrooms, with the exception of those places that are open to the public and only when accompanied by a certified trainer.

If you are training an animal to aid and guide persons with disabilities, you must register your dog with the Specialized Resource Center and comply with the requirements set forth in this policy.