Houghton College Service Animal Policy

I. Policy Statement:

Houghton College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in allowing use of service animals for students, staff and visitors. It is the policy of Houghton College that service animals assisting individuals with disabilities are generally permitted in all facilities and programs on the Houghton College campus except as described below.

II. Definition:

“Service animal” is defined by the ADA, as amended in 2008 and 2010, 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. 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, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting 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, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive and destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition. [1]

III. When a Service Animal May be Asked to Leave or Prohibited in a Houghton College Facility or Program:

A service animal may be asked to leave a Houghton College facility or program if the animal’s behavior or presence poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, a service animal that displays vicious behavior towards people may be excluded. Service animals may also be excluded in areas where the presence of a service animal fundamentally alters the nature of a program or activity or is disruptive. Examples may include, but are not limited to, research labs, areas requiring protective clothing, and food preparation areas. In addition, animals not covered under the ADA service animal definition can be asked to leave a Houghton College facility or program. Questions related to the use of service animals on campus should be directed to the ADA Coordinator at 585-567-9262.

IV. Students:

Students who require the use of a service animal on campus should first contact The Center for Academic Success and Advising (CASA) to register as a student with a disability. CASA personnel will evaluate the student’s documentation of disability and discuss with the individual any accommodations appropriate to the functional limitations of the disability, including use of a service animal. Appropriate documentation must be submitted to verify the need for having a service animal on campus and to register the service animal. If the definition of a service animal is not met, then the use of the animal (i.e., as a comfort or therapy animal[2]) may be allowed as a reasonable accommodation; such animals are not allowed in any campus building, however. Information provided to CASA is confidential; disability information will not be released without the signed consent of the student. Students can reach the Houghton College Center for Academic Success and Advising Office by writing sharon.mulligan@houghton.edu, or, when college is in session, by calling 585-567-9262.

V. Employees:

Employee requests for disability accommodations, including requests to have a service animal at work, are handled through the Human Resources office. Please call this office at 585-567-9321 for information and assistance.

VI. Visitors:

Service animals accompanying individuals with disabilities are welcome in all areas of campus that are open to the public, except for places where there is a health, environmental, or safety hazard. Specific questions related to the use of service animals on the Houghton College campus by visitors can be directed to the ADA Coordinator at 585-567-9262, or via e-mail at sharon.mulligan@houghton.edu.

VII. Campus Personnel:

Students who are allowed the use of service animals will have this specified in their official notification letters to Professors. For campus officials, the appropriate way to ascertain that an animal is a service animal is to ask (only if it is not apparent) if the animal is required because of a disability and what tasks it has been trained to perform. Specific questions about the individual’s disability may not be asked. Service animals must be allowed to accompany their handlers at all times and everywhere on campus where other students are allowed, except as described in Section III, above. Contact the Center for Academic Success and Advising if any questions arise relating to service animals. Service animals who misbehave or individuals who mistreat service animals may be reported to Campus Safety and Security personnel.

VIII. The CASA Office:

The CASA Office will collect the verification information for service animals from students when they register with CASA, and will be responsible to develop the necessary procedures for the college and facilitate the use of service animals by students on campus. The CASA Office will assist the college community when questions or concerns arise relating to service animals on campus and seek legal advice when necessary.

IX. Appeals and Grievances:

Any person dissatisfied with a decision concerning a service animal can use the Houghton College Disability Grievance Procedure.

X. Campus Resources:

Mark Hunter, Interim ADA Coordinator, 222 Chamberlain Center, Houghton College, Houghton, NY 14744, 585-567-9262, sharon.mulligan@houghton.edu,

XI. Requirements for Service Animals:

  • Vaccination: Service animals must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. All vaccinations must be current. Dogs must wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  • Licensing: Service animals must be licensed in the Town of Caneadea; however, no licensing fee will be charged[3]. The handler is responsible for complying with the Alleghany County/Town of Caneadea dog control and licensing laws. Documentation may be required.
  • Leash: Dogs must be on a harness, leash, or tether at all times, unless impracticable or unfeasible due to owner/keeper’s disability, or unless such a restraint would interfere with the animal’s ability to safely and effectively perform its duties.
  • Under Control: The owner/keeper of a service animal must be in full control of the animal at all times. The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of owner/keeper.
  • Cleanup Rule: The owner/keeper of a service animal is responsible for independently removing or arranging for the removal of the service animal’s waste.
  • Care: The handler is responsible for the costs of care necessary for a service animal’s well-being. The arrangements and responsibilities with the care of a service animal is the sole responsibility of the owner at all times, including regular bathing and grooming, as needed.
  • Health: Animals housed in College Housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian.
  • Service Dogs in Training: Service dogs in training will be admitted to facilities open to the public. The animal must be accompanied by a person who is training the service animal and the animal must wear a harness or leash and special cape identifying it as a service animal in training. The trainer must register with SAS and present credentials for the dog issued by a school for dog training. Animals in training are not permitted to reside in campus housing.

XII. Other Resources

U.S. Department of Justice, Information about the Americans with Disabilities Act

Guidance on Service Animals in Public Places

Helpful Information:

Basic etiquette rules need to be observed around service animals and their handlers. The college community should be informed of these:

Do not pet, touch or otherwise distract a service animal when it is working. Doing so may interfere with its ability to perform its duties. Do not feed a service animal. Their work depends on a regular and consistent feeding regimen that the handler is responsible to maintain. Do not attempt to separate the handler from the service animal. Avoid initiating conversations about the student’s disability. Some people do not wish to discuss their disability.

Service animals can be asked to leave or not allowed it participate on campus under the following circumstances:

if a service animal is found by the college to be out of control and the animal’s handler does not take immediate and effective action to control it; if the animal is not housebroken; if a service animal is physically ill; if the service animal is unreasonably dirty; if a service animal attempts to enter a place on campus where the presence of a service animal causes danger to the safety of the handler or other students/member of campus, or where a service animal’s safety is compromised.

Allergies to pet dander:

If another student or a faculty or staff member has severe allergies around animal dander, the CASA Office should be contacted so the matter may be equitably resolved.

Access to campus facilities and programs:

Handlers who have concerns about any matter affecting their use of a service animal, including access to campus facilities and programs, should contact SAS at 585-567-9262.

Some of the above text was borrowed from the Service Animals On Campus policy of Cornell University, and the Service Animal Policy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

[1] Department of Justice Revises ADA Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III, Federal Register, September 15, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 178).

[2] Comfort Animal – An animal that provides comfort, reassurance, social interaction and other emotional benefits. The animal does not have to be trained to provide comforting. A comfort animal is not considered a service animal. Therapy Animal – An animal that provides affection and comfort and is specifically trained to be gentle and stable in stressful situations. Therapy animals are most often used in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities and children’s settings. The use of a therapy animal may be incorporated into the treatment process as prescribed by an appropriate health care professional. A therapy animal is not considered a service animal.

[3] Visit http://townofcaneadea.org/content/Offices/View/1 to download a dog license application.