So you’ve received a request to permit an animal on campus. Now what? The answer is not always straightforward and it is always determined on a case-by-case basis. But, the steps below can help guide your analysis.
Institutions may ask two questions about dogs identified as service animals.
- Is the dog required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
The student or staffers answers will guide how you proceed.
The critical issue is one of task-training, NOT the nature of the disability. What is the TASK the dog has been trained to perform?
- If the dog has been trained to perform tasks related to the disability, then it’s a service dog, regardless of what type of disability it is.
- Conversely, if the dog has not been task trained, then it is NOT a service dog regardless of the type of disability the handler has.
Example: Just because a person is blind, deaf, or a wheelchair user, does not entitle that person to have access with an untrained pet dog just for emotional support. Conversely, because a person’s disability is psychiatric or balance related, does not entitle you to deny access for a dog who IS task-trained for that person’s disability.
Terminology used is meant to be descriptive of what the dog DOES for his/her handler: “Psychiatric service dog,” like “mobility dog,” “guide dog,” or “hearing dog,” is a term that merely identifies a particular type of service dog. They are ALL service dogs. They are ALL covered by the ADA.
If the handler is a person with a disability, and if the dog is trained to perform assistance tasks related to the disability, then it is a service dog.