Service Animals

The scope of this policy is to set forth the College’s policy, guidelines and requirements with respect to the admittance and use of service animals on its campus or in other College programs. The policy applies to any service animal whose user or handler is participating in the College’s programs or activities or who is on the College’s campus, including college housing.

Service Animals Defined

A Service Animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “Assistance Animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “Service Animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.. 

Federal regulations do not require the individual with a disability to provide documented proof of training of the dog, nor do they have to provide documentation of their disability. When a student’s disability is obvious, Stonehill does not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, students may be asked the following two questions: 

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform? 

Where Service Animals Are Allowed

Subject to some limitations, service animals may accompany students throughout campus. The College may restrict the use of service animals in certain locations.  Service animals may be restricted when their presence would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity; or where the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The safety of locations will be considered on an individual basis by appropriate College personnel. If a location is determined to be unsafe, reasonable accommodations will be provided to ensure the individual equal access to the activity. With few exceptions, service animals are allowed in classrooms, administrative buildings, residential areas and dining areas. However, the service animal may be excluded from laboratory or animal research areas where the dog would create a disruption or compromise a sterile environment. In such cases alternate accommodations will be provided to the person with the disability.

Notification about the Presence of a Service Animal

While a person with a disability is not required to notify the College about their service animal, we do encourage users/handlers to self-identify to Accessibility Resources in order to facilitate communication with faculty, staff and administrators and/or to determine if other types of accommodations are warranted. In particular, if a user/handler plans to have their service animal live with them in our residence halls, we ask them to provide notice to the College in order to ensure appropriate housing accommodations. Students are encouraged to provide notice to the College by contacting the Office of Accessibility Resources in Duffy 104, by calling 508-565-1306 or accessibility-resources@stonehill.edu .

Stonehill College recommends service animals be identifiable by wearing a vest or harness.

Responsibilities of Individuals Using Service/Assistance Animals

While access rights are legally afforded to users of service animals, that access is accompanied by the responsibility of ensuring that animals act and respond appropriately at all times while in public and that users/handlers adhere to the same socially accepted standards of behavior as other members of  the College community. Users/handlers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their service animals as well as for the cost, care, and supervision of their service animals.

Control Responsibilities

  • Users/handlers must keep the animal under control at all times. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, at all times outside of the handler’s private quarters or work area, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. When a leash or tether is not in use, the service animal must be otherwise under the handler´s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).
  • Users/handlers must properly clean up after and dispose of the animal’s waste. Users/handlers with disabilities who physically cannot clean up after their own service animal will not be required to do so; however these individuals should take their animal to designated areas for relief.  
  • Relief areas are typically un-mowed and unmaintained areas on campus as designated by the College's Facilities Department.  Students with service animals residing on campus should meet with the Office of Accessibility Resources and Facilities personnel to designate, on an individual basis, appropriate relief areas.  

Financial Responsibilities

  • A person who has a service animal on campus (including college housing) is financially responsible for property damage caused by his or her service animal including but not limited to cost of repairs, replacement or cleaning of facilities or furnishings, and any bodily injury or personal injury caused to other persons by the animal.

Licensing/Health/Vaccination Requirements

  • If the animal is residing on campus it must meet Easton's and/or Massachusetts licensing requirements and wear tags designating this license. If the animal accompanies a commuter student, employee or other campus visitor and resides in another locale, the animal must meet the licensing requirements of the user/handler's resident town and wear tags indicating this licensing.
  • Animals to be housed in College housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian
  • All service animals living in College housing or coming onto campus on a regular basis must be vaccinated against diseases common to that type of animal in accordance with state and local laws, rules and regulations.

Owners must comply with the same College rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness as people without disabilities.  If a service animal is determined to be out of control (e.g, displaying vicious behavior towards people; excessive barking, running around, nipping); or is not housebroken; the owner may be subject to action within the College’s disciplinary process. The infraction will be reviewed on an individual basis through the student conduct process.  All owners shall promptly comply with any College directive to remove their animal from an area in which it was previously authorized if:

  • it is out of control and effective action is not taken to control it;
  • it is not housebroken; or
  • it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

Public Etiquette for Members of the Stonehill Community

Service animals are working animals and are not pets. Accordingly, the College asks that members of the Stonehill community and visitors adhere to the following best practices when interacting with service animals.

Community members should not:

  • Assume that the animal is a pet.
  • Pet/touch a service animal. Petting distracts them from their responsibilities.
  • Restrict the individual and the service animal from full participation in programs and activities of the College. This includes off campus activities and activities involving transportation.
  • Assume the handler may have visible disability.  Do not make assumptions about the necessity of the service animal.
  • Ask the handler about their specific medical condition.
  • Prioritize the needs of another individual over the needs of an individual with a service animal. For example, we cannot restrict the access of a service animal fearing another member of the community may have an allergy.
  • Feed a service animal.
  • Deliberately startle, tease or taunt a service animal.
  • Separate or attempt to separate an animal his/her handler. Service animals are trained to be protective of the handler.
  • Hesitate to ask the handler if he/she would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction in which to turn, an accessible entrance, the location of an elevator, etc.

Conflicting Disabilities

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a classroom, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility. Individuals who have asthma, allergies, or other medical conditions affected by the presence of animals are asked to contact the Office of Accessibility Resources.  The individual impacted by the presence of the animal must provide verifiable medical documentation to support his or her claim.  The needs of both individuals will be considered in resolving the issue.

Complaints, Appeals and Exceptions to the Policy

Any claims of discrimination on the basis of a disability or failure to provide reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the Office of Accessibility Resources. Students wishing to request a modification or exception to this policy should also contact the Office of Accessibility Resources. Accommodations Appeal Process

Resources

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, As Amended

U.S. Department of Justice: Service Animal Guidance

Massachusetts Department of Health: Rabies Vaccination

Town of Easton: Dog License Requirements