Service animals are animals trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) definition of service animals is "...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." 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 a training program.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Virginians with Disabilities Act, and the Longwood University Board of Visitors policy allow service animals accompanying persons with disabilities to be on the Longwood University campus. A service animal must be permitted to accompany a person with a disability everywhere on campus.
This policy differentiates "service animals" from "pets," provides examples of types of service animals, and sets behavioral guidelines for service animals. This policy also covers service animal trainees.
- Partner/Handler: A person with a service animal. A person with a disability is called a partner; a person without a disability is called a handler.
- Pet: A domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. Pets are not permitted in University facilities. Permission may be granted by a professor/instructor, dean or other college administrator for a pet to be in a campus facility for a specific reason at a specific time (e.g., a pet dog is used for a demonstration tool in a zoology class).
- Service Animal: Any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Service animals are usually dogs, but may be monkeys. A few other animals have been presented as service animals. If there is a question about whether an animal is a service animal, contact the Director of Disability Support Services. A service animal is sometimes called an assistance animal.
- Team: A person with a disability, or a handler, and his or her service animal. The twosome works as a cohesive team in accomplishing the tasks of everyday living.
- Trainee: An animal undergoing training to become a service animal.
Examples of Types of Service Animals
- A Guide Dog is a carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool to persons with severe visual impairment or who are blind.
- A Hearing Dog is a dog who has been trained to alert a person with significant hearing loss or who is deaf when a sound, e.g., knock on the door, occurs.
- A Service Dog is 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, fetching, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, helping a person up after a fall, etc. Service dogs are sometimes called assistance dogs.
- A SSigDog is a dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g. hand flapping). A person with autism may have problems with sensory input and need the same support services from a dog that a dog might give to a person who is blind or deaf.
- A Seizure Response Dog is a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder; how the dog serves depends on the person's needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure, or the dog may go for help. A few dogs have somehow learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance.
Requirements for Faculty, Staff, and Students
- Allow a service animal to accompany the partner at all times and everywhere on campus.
- Do not pet a service animal; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from the task at hand.
- 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.
- Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
- Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from his or her service animal.
Requirements of Service Animals and Their Partners/Handlers
- Vaccination: The animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have had the general maintenance vaccine series, which includes vaccinations against rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Other animals must have had the appropriate vaccination series for the type of animal. All vaccinations must be current. Evidence showing inoculation for rabies is a prerequisite to obtaining a dog license (VA law 3.1-796.97). Dogs must wear a rabies vaccination tag.
- Licensing: The Town of Farmville ordinance (Section 10-56) and the County of Prince Edward, following the Commonwealth of Virginia (3.1-796.97), require all dogs be licensed by the time they reach five (5) months of age. Dog guides, hearing dogs, and dogs serving mobility-impaired persons receive the license at no cost.
- Owner ID and Other Tags: Farmville ordinance (Section 10-56) requires dogs to wear an owner identification tag at all times. The dog must also wear a current rabies tag and dog license tag.
- Health: The animal must be in good health. Animals to be housed in University housing must have an annual clean bill of heath from a licensed veterinarian.
- Leash: Farmville ordinance (Section 10-56) requires dogs to be on a leash at all times. Exceptions will be made to this ordinance where the animal performs a service that requires it to travel beyond the length of the restraint or where a person is unable to maintain the animal on a leash due to a disability.
- 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 solely the responsibility of its partner/handler.
- Waste Removal: The partner/handler is responsible for removing or arranging for the removal of the service animal's waste.
When a Service Animal Can Be Asked to Leave
- Disruption: The partner of an animal that is unruly or disruptive (e.g. barking, running around, bringing attention to itself) may be asked to remove the animal from University facilities. This is not intended to encompass behavior that is directly related to the service(s) an animal is trained to perform for a person with a disability. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the partner may be told not to bring the animals into any University facility until the partner takes significant steps to mitigate the behavior.
- Ill Health: Service animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas. A partner with an ill animal may be asked to leave University facilities.
- Uncleanliness: A partner with a service animal that is so unclean that it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or would cause a fundamental alteration to a University facility, program, or activity may be asked to remove the service animal from University facilities.
- Areas Off Limits to Service Animals
- Service animals are generally permitted in any area of the University with public access.
In the event of an emergency, the Emergency Response Team (ERT) should be trained to recognize service animals and to be aware that the animal may be trying to communicate the need for help. The animal may become disoriented from the smell of smoke from a fire or laboratory emergency, from sirens or wind noise, or from shaking and moving ground. The partner and/or animal may be confused by the stressful situation. The ERT should be aware that the animal is trying to be protective and, in its confusion, is not to be considered harmful. The ERT should make every effort to keep the animal with its partner. However, the ERT's first effort should be toward the partner; this may necessitate leaving an animal behind in certain emergency evacuation situations.
To help ensure appropriate ERT response, this policy is being disseminated to the Longwood University Police, the Office of Campus Safety, the Town of Farmville Police and Fire Departments, and the Office of the Prince Edward County Sheriff.
Modifications and Grievance
Any partner/handler who wishes to request a modification of the policy should contact the Director of Disability Resources.
Any partner/handler who is dissatisfied with a decision made concerning a service animal should follow the Longwood University Grievance Procedure.
Any questions pertaining to the Service Animal Policy may be directed to the Director of Disability Resources.
Ridge Animal Hospital
1913 E. Third Street, Farmville, VA 23901
Most of the following resources were used in developing this policy:
- Drs. French and Gates, Ridge Animal Hospital, Farmville, VA
- The Americans with Disabilities Act, Public Law 101-336 (ADA)
- Assistance Dogs International (ADI): "Legal Rights of Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, and Service Dogs"
- Town of Farmville Animal Warden (Town Regulations)
- Town of Farmville Treasurer (Dog Licensing)
- International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). WWW.IAADP.org
- Gonser, Pat. Pets and People: Companions in Therapy & Service
- U.S. Department of Justice, Technical Assistance Manuals for ADA Titles II and III, ADA Highlights for Titles II and III and the "National Association of Attorneys General initiative on Service Animals." Thou Attorneys General Initiative, Title II and III materials and the ADA may be viewed at the Department of Justice's ADA homepage.
Approved by the Longwood Board of Visitors December 2007