Service Animals

PSU Service Animal Statement For Faculty/Staff/Students/Visitors

Access rights afforded to users of service animals comes with the responsibility of the partner to ensure compliance with all requirements of this Statement, including but not limited to the following control requirements. The Partner assumes full personal liability for any damage to property or persons caused by their service animal, and Plymouth State University shall not be responsible for any harm to a service animal while on campus, including but not limited to injury to the animal caused by pest management or lawn care products.

Definition of a Service Animal

The ADAA (Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act) of 2008 defines a service animal 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. With the possible exception of miniature horses, other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.  Miniature horses must meet all the provisions of this service animal statement.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, or retrieving dropped items for a person with limited mobility.”  If an animal meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether or not it has been certified by a training program.

The person a service animal assists is referred to as a partner. The partner and animal together are referred to as a team. Service animals are working animals, not pets. Service animals are not required to wear any special collars, vests, or harnesses.  You may inquire if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. You may not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability. You may not ask for proof that the animal is certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.

Control Requirements

  • While service animals are permitted in facilities, they must be under the full control of their partners at all times
  • The animal must be in good health
  • The animal must not be unruly, disruptive, or a direct threat to the health and safety of others
  • The animal must be on a leash, harness, or tether at all times when not providing a service to the partner
  • The animal must be as unobtrusive as possible
  • The animal must be well groomed and measures should be taken, at all times, to maintain flea and odor control
  • The partner is responsible for being aware of the animal’s need to relieve itself and act accordingly
  • The partner is responsible for cleaning up after the service animal and appropriately disposing of its feces
  • The care and supervision of a service animal is the sole responsibility of its partner

Public Etiquette by Students, Faculty, and Staff

Individuals should not:

  • Engage in behavior that draws attention to the animal so as to cause a disruption to the class, activity, and/or event.
  • Pet a service animal while it is working. Service animals are trained to be protective of their partners and petting distracts them from their responsibilities.
  • Feed a working service animal.
  • Deliberately startle, tease or taunt a service animal.
  • Separate or attempt to separate a partner from his/her service animal.
  • Hesitate to ask a student if he/she would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction in which to turn, an accessible entrance, or the location of an elevator, etc.

Types of Service Dogs

A service dog can be any breed or size.

Guide dog: A dog that is carefully trained that serves as a travel tool for individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Hearing dog: A dog that has been trained to alert a person who is deaf or hard of hearing when a sound occurs (e.g. knock on the door, a fire alarm, the phone ringing).

Service dog (assistance dog): 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, retrieving, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability, assisting a person to get up after a fall, etc.

Sig (signal) dog: A dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, which are common among those with autism. This intervention allows the person to stop the movement. A person with autism may also have deficits in sensory input, and may need the same support services from a dog that one might provide for a person who is blind or deaf.

Seizure response dog: A dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. The method by which the dog serves the person depends on the individual’s needs. Some dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance.

Psychiatric Service Animals are trained to perform a variety of tasks that assist individuals to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and ameliorate their effects. Some of the tasks may include:

  • Reminding the handler to take medicine
  • Providing safety checks or room searches
  • Turning on lights
  • Preventing or interrupting impulsive or self-destructive behaviors
  • Removing disoriented individuals from dangerous situations

Emotional support or comfort animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being are not service animals.

Documentation Requirements

The service animal must meet all state and local license tag and vaccination requirements.

A service animal that is housed in University housing must provide annual health verification from a licensed veterinarian.


Student must provide appropriate documentation of their disability to Plymouth Academic Support Services.  Please note that all decisions on which reasonable accommodations will be granted, including a request to have a service animal, will be made by Plymouth Academic Support Services.

Plymouth State University will not be responsible for providing service animals to students, and will not assume responsibility for the care or maintenance of service animals.

Areas of Safety

There are certain instances when it may be considered unsafe or unhealthy for animals in such places as medical facilities, laboratories, mechanical rooms, food preparation areas or any other place where the health or safety of the animal, the partner or others may be threatened (including areas occupied by individuals who have allergies or other medical conditions that may be adversely impacted by the presence of an animal). When it is determined unsafe for the team to be in one of these areas, reasonable accommodations may be provided to assure the partner equal access to the activity.

Exclusion of Service Animals

Service animals are excluded from Areas of Safety, and may be asked to leave a Plymouth State University facility or program if the team does not satisfy the above Control or Documentation Requirements. For example, a service animal that displays vicious behavior may be excluded.

In addition, animals not covered under the ADAA of 2008 service animal definition can be asked to  leave a Plymouth State University facility or program. Questions related to the use of service animals on campus should be directed to the following departments:


Student Concerns
Janice Carlson, Disabilities Coordinator, PASS Office

Faculty/Staff Concerns
Caryn Ines, Interim Director, Human Resources

Visitor Concerns
Katie Caron, Campus Manager of Environmental Health & Safety, Physical Plant Admininstration




July 15, 2014