Service animals are animals trained to assist individuals with disabilities in the activities of independent living. Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal means any dog or miniature horse 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[i]. No other species of animal may serve as a service animal. Animals that do not perform a task for the benefit of an individual with a disability but rather serve as assistance animals providing emotional support, comfort or companion, are not service animals.[i] Service animals are not pets. [ii]
The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks may include, but are not limited to:
- Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks;
- Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds;
- Providing non-violent protection or rescue work;
- Pulling a wheelchair;
- Assisting an individual during a seizure;
- Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens;
- Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone;
- Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities;
- Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
Individuals with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by their service animals on all University of Connecticut campuses where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go, unless the University determines that permitting the service animal poses a health or safety concern, the service animal is not housebroken or cannot be effectively controlled by the owner. The accompaniment of an individual with a disability by a service animal in locations with health and safety restrictions, such as food preparation areas and laboratories, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate department representative(s) in collaboration with the Center for Students with Disabilities. [iii]
An individual with a disability may be asked to remove a service animal from the University if the animal cannot be effectively controlled by its owner, or the animal is not housebroken. If the University determines that a service animal must be excluded, the individual with a disability will be provided the opportunity to participate in the service, program or activity without having the service animal on the premises.
The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal. A service animal shall be under the control of its owner. A service animal shall have a harness, leash or other tether, unless either the individual is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the owner’s control (e.g., voice control, signals or other effective means).
Federal law does not require the individual to provide documentation that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal. In making a decision whether to permit accompaniment of a service animal, the University shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability. The University may, however, ask if the animal is required because of a disability, as well as what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. The University shall not charge a surcharge for the service animal, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees. If the University normally charges individuals for damages caused by a pet, an individual with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by the service animal. The University will give priority consideration to the specific methods requested by a student, but cannot guarantee that a particular accommodation will be granted if the University determines it is not reasonable or that other suitable methods are available.[iv]
- Employees are able to request service animals or other accommodations through the Office of Diversity and Equity, www.ode.uconn.edu/ada/.
- The University’s Assistance Animal Policy and Procedure, http://csd.uconn.edu/assistance-animal-policy-and-procedure/.
- The University’s Pets at Work Policy requires that pets on campus remain under the control of their owner and excludes all pets from University buildings,http://policy.uconn.edu/?p=964. Service animals are not pets within the understanding of this policy.
- Frequently Asked Questions for the Service and Assistance Animals are available at http://csd.uconn.edu/service-and-assistance-animals/.
[i] Please see the University’s Assistance Animal Policy and Procedure for more information on assistance animals.
[ii] The University has a separate policy regarding Pets at Work. See http://policy.uconn.edu/?p=964.
[iii] Per Connecticut Department of Health, Public Health Code Regulation 19-13-B42 (q)(1).
[iv] This policy does not apply to service animals in training.