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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. he 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 AccessABILITY Services with any questions or concerns.

Students using a service animal on campus should contact the Office of AccessABILITY 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

  1. Under the ADA, 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.
  2. The handler is financially responsible for the actions of the approved service animal. These actions include bodily injury and/or property damage and handlers must take appropriate precautions to prevent injury and/or property damage. Any damage to University property caused by the service animal or above and beyond normal maintenance cleaning will be charged to the handler’s student account.
  3. At all times, the cost of care and maintenance of health and well-being are the sole responsibility of the handler. Service animals must meet all local ordinances regarding vaccinations and proper licensure.
  4. Out of courtesy to others, as much as possible the handler should ensure that the service animal does not approach and sniff other individuals, dining tables, or the personal belongings of others.
  5. The handler must assure that the service animal does not block identified fire/emergency exits. 
  6. It is the handler’s responsibility to assure that the service animal does not display behaviors or noises that are deemed 
disruptive to others, unless said noise/behaviors are part of the needed disability service to 
the handler.
  7. Waste cleanup is the sole responsibility of the handler. If the handler is not physically 
capable of cleaning up after the service animal, the handler must hire someone who is physically capable and incur the cost of such hire. Service animal waste cleanup should include appropriate waste clean-up equipment and proper disposal of waste in an appropriate container. An appropriate container is an outside receptacle (i.e. dumpsters).

Service Animals in Residence Halls and on campus

Service animals may travel freely with their handler throughout the Residence Halls and university property. The University may restrict the use of Service Animals in certain locations based on health and safety restrictions. 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, sterile environments, and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to animals.


Removal of Service Animal

Service animals may be removed from the University premises if:
  1. The service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it. If improper animal behavior happens repeatedly, the handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal into any university facility until the handler can demonstrate that s/he has taken significant steps to mitigate the behavior.
  2. The service animal is not housebroken.
  3. The service animal is a direct threat. A handler may be directed to remove an animal the University determines to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of individuals. This may occur due to an extremely ill animal, or the presence of an animal in a sensitive area such as a medical facility, sterile environments, and research laboratories.

When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, University staff will work with the person with the disability to obtain goods or services without the animal's presence.


Be sure to espond to inquiries from the OAS regarding the animal that is required due to a disability and include 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 AccessABILITY 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.