Service Animal Policy

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...animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.” Youngstown State University complies with the ADA in allowing use of service animals that are used directly to address functional limitations of a disability.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that an individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. These include:

  • Guide services for those who are blind
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance
  • Providing assistance in a medical crisis

Clear and explicit rationale must exist for the animal’s function or service. CSP Disability Services may require additional documentation from an appropriate licensed professional.

A “therapy animal” is not a service animal unless it has been individually trained to perform specific disability-related tasks and to meet a student’s specific and documented needs. Where service animals provide specific disability-related assistance and have a clear right to enter any facility with the owner, therapy animals perform their tasks by invitation and are not automatically granted right of access.

Service animals are to exhibit appropriate behavior and must not disrupt the overall learning environment.

Requirements for Faculty, Staff and Students

  1. Allow a service animal to accompany the partner at all times and everywhere on campus, except where service animals are specifically prohibited. The courts have upheld the rights of service animal owners to take animals into food-service locations.
  2. Do not pet a service animal; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from required tasks.
  3. 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.
  4. Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
  5. Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from his or her service animal.

Requirements of Service Animals and Their Partners/Handlers

  1. Identification and Other Tags: The animal must have tags or some other method of indicating ownership and rabies clearances. It is suggested that service animals be fitted with some identifying equipment such as a harness, cape or backpack as appropriate. Minimal equipment is a leash by which the animal is kept under control.
  2. Health and Vaccinations: The animal must be clean and in good health. Animals to be housed in campus housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Dogs must have had a general maintenance vaccination series against rabies, distemper and parvo virus. Other animals must have had the appropriate vaccinations series for the type of animal. All vaccinations must be current. Dogs must wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  3. Leash: The animal must be on a leash at all times when outside of a residential room.
  4. Under Control of Partner/Handler: The partner/handler must be in full control of the animal at all times. The care and supervision of a service animal is the sole responsibility of its partner/handler. The animal must be maintained and used at all times in ways that do not create safety hazards for other persons.
  5. Cleanup Rules:
  • Always carry equipment and bags sufficient to clean up the animal’s feces.
  • Properly dispose of the feces.
  • Persons who are not physically able to pick up and dispose of feces are responsible for making all necessary arrangements for assistance. The College is not responsible for these services.

Adapted from Geneva University and Kent State University 07/09