Worcester State University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and access to persons with disabilities and fulfilling its responsibilities under federal and state disability laws. The purpose of this policy is to provide the University community with guidelines for the use of service animals on campus. This policy will assist in understanding the rights of students and visitors with disabilities who utilize service animals, identify the types of service animals and provide a framework for managing service animals on campus.
Procedure for Registration of Service Animals on Campus
The owner who plans to use a service animal on campus is required to register the animal with the Disability Services Office (DSO), 131 Administration Building. Registration includes providing:
- Acceptable documentation of the need for a service animal.
- Evidence of current clean health certificates (i.e. proof of the animal’s up-to-date inoculations, etc. on an annual basis.)
- A copy of the animal’s training certificate (if available) or documentation verifying that the animal meets the definition of a service animal.
- Evidence of current licensure with local authorities (if applicable).
- A signed “consent” form allowing the DSO to notify other campus offices, relevant staff and faculty, and potential or current roommates, suitemates, and hallmates of the need for the service animal and any special circumstances relevant to the use of the service animal.
- Statement for maintenance plans of the animal while on campus.
- Copy of student’s current schedule for instructor notification. (Student must provide a new schedule to DSO at the beginning of each session or semester.)
- The owner must complete the “Registry for Service Animals” form.
Service Animals in University Housing
If the owner plans to live on campus, he/she must submit a request to have a service animal in campus housing to the DSO along with appropriate documentation at least 30 days before making a reservation in campus housing or 30 days prior to the date prospective housing will be needed. The DSO will review the request and make a recommendation to the Office of Residence Life and Housing.
The Office of Residence Life and Housing will notify the individual that the request has been received and accepted. The individual may then proceed with the process for reserving a space in campus housing.
The Office of Residence Life and Housing will make a reasonable effort to notify residents in the residence building where the animal will be located of the existence of a service animal in the building.
Areas Restricted to Service Animals
The University may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health or safety restrictions, where service animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of certain research. Such restricted locations include, but are not limited to, food preparation areas, certain research laboratories, mechanical rooms/custodial closets, wood/metal/machine shops, classrooms with demonstration/research animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, and/or other areas where the animal's presence may constitute a danger or a fundamental alteration of the program or activity conducted in the area. Access to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting the appropriate department and/or laboratory representative and the DSO. The University will pursue an interactive process to determine whether or not admission of the service animal will be granted or denied. The person directing the work in the restricted area will make the final decision regarding access based on the nature of the activities occurring in the area and the best interest of the animal.
Etiquette Relating to Service Animals
- A service animal is allowed to accompany its owner anywhere on campus unless specifically prohibited by this policy.
- Do not pet a service animal; it distracts the animal from its responsibilities.
- Do not feed a service animal; the animal may have specific dietary requirements.
- Do not deliberately startle or distract a service animal.
- Do not separate or attempt to separate an owner from his/her service animal.
In the event of an emergency, emergency responders (i.e., Worcester State University Police Officers, Worcester City Police, and Worcester City Fire Department) who respond should be trained to recognize service animals and to be aware that the animal may be trying to communicate the need for help. During emergencies the animal may become disoriented or agitated from the smell or smoke in a fire, from sirens or wind noise, or from shaking and moving ground. The owner and/or animal may be confused by the stress of a particular situation. The emergency responder should be aware that the animal is trying to be protective of its owner and may react defensively. The emergency responder should make every reasonable effort to keep the animal with its partner. However, the emergency responder’s first effort should be toward the owner and this may necessitate leaving an animal behind in certain emergency evacuation situations.
It is likely that persons at the University may have a disability that precipitates an allergic reaction to animals. Persons who have asthma, allergies or other medical issues with the animal are to be directed to make their complaint to the DSO. This individual will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s) and will allow determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation. Action will be taken to consider the needs of both persons to resolve the problem as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Dispute Resolution Procedure
Disputes or disagreements about a disability determination, appropriateness of an accommodation, service quality, or an animal restriction should first be raised with the DSO. If the matter cannot be resolved, a complaint may be filed with the University’s Diversity/Affirmative Action Office.
Definition of Service Animal
Service animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to 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 with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items. If an animal meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified by a state or local government or by a private agency.
Pets and therapy animals are not considered service animals and therefore are not covered by this definition. Pet means a domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. Therapy animal means an animal with good temperament and disposition, and who has reliable, predictable behavior, selected to accompany people with disabilities, and may be incorporated as an integral part of a treatment process. A therapy animal does not assist an individual with a disability in the activities of daily living nor accompany a person with a disability at all times, unlike a service animal that is always with a person with a disability.
Requirements for Service Animals and Their Owners
At Worcester State University, it is the responsibility of the person using the animal's services (hereinafter “owner”) to ensure the safety of a service animal. While legal access rights are afforded to the users of assistance animals, with those rights comes the responsibility of ensuring that the animal behaves and responds appropriately at all times in public and that the owner and the animal, as a team, adhere to the same socially accepted standards as any individual in the University community.
Health and Vaccinations
The care and supervision of a service animal is the responsibility of the owner. The owner must ensure that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated against diseases common to that type of animal as recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association. For example, dogs must have had a general maintenance vaccination series against rabies, distemper, and other appropriate vaccinations.
All vaccinations must be current. Dogs must wear a rabies tag.
Owner ID Tag
The animal must wear an owner identification tag (owner name and contact information) any time the animal is on campus.
The owner must keep the service animal on a leash/lead when the animal is in a public area (i.e. classroom, library, common area of a residence hall, outdoors on campus, etc.), unless the service animal is required to perform a task that it could not accomplish while on a leash/lead or the owner is otherwise unable to maintain the animal on a leash/lead due to a disability; in such case the owner still must be able to maintain control over the animal. The owner does not need to keep the service animal on a leash/lead in private areas assigned to the owner (e.g., the owner’s residence hall room) or private areas assigned to a third party if the third party consents to the animal being off leash/lead.
The owner is responsible for cleaning up animal waste. Persons who are not physically able to pick up and dispose of feces are responsible for making all necessary arrangements for assistance. The University is not responsible for these services. Residential students may be asked to walk animals in specifically designated areas.
The owner 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 owner. The animal must be maintained and used at all times in ways that do not create safety hazards for other people.
The owner is responsible for the cost to repair any damage done by the service animal to University property.
Any service animal may be removed from campus temporarily or excluded from campus permanently if the animal is unruly and disruptive (e.g. barking; running around, off leash or out of control; aggressiveness toward others (people or animals); disruption or interruption of classes), in ill health, or habitually unclean or unhealthy to the extent that the animal’s behavior or condition poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or otherwise causes a fundamental alteration in the University’s services, programs, or activities. If such behavior or condition persists, the owner may be directed not to bring the animal into public campus areas until the problem is rectified. Worcester State University is not financially responsible for any actions of, or related to any service animal.
Visitors with Service Animals
All visitors to campus with service animals must adhere to the same service animal control, behavior guidelines as students attending the University.