Accommodative Services

Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal Guidelines

Service Animal Guidelines

Union College welcomes service animals on campus. A service animal is defined as a dog or small horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. While legal access rights are afforded to users of service animals, the access comes with the responsibility of ensuring that the animal behaves and responds appropriately at all times, in public and that the user/handler, as a team must adhere to the same socially accepted standards as any individual in the college community. It is the user/handler’s responsibility to ensure the safety of a service animal. For more detailed guidance, please see Union College's Office of Community Standards Student Handbook.

Students in need of a service animal are asked to contact the Director of Accommodative Services, Shelly Shinebarger, at shinebas@union.edu to complete a brief Registration Form. Union College wants to make sure appropriate departments are notified, such as Residential Life, Academics, and Campus Safety.

The United States Department of Justice has created a helpful brief about service animals in public and private settings, which addresses some questions and concerns about what Federal law allows with regard to service animals. Please visit the link U.S. Department of Justice ADA Publication on Service Animals to learn more.

5 Tips: When You Meet a Service Dog

  1. Do not pet or interact with a service dog when it is wearing its harness. If the dog is resting without its harness, ask the owner's permission before petting the dog and respect the person's decision if they say no.
  2. Do not let your pet near a service dog, even if your pet is leashed. Allowing your pet to visit or "say hi," even for a moment, can cause the service dog to lose focus on the important job it has to do.
  3. For a blind traveler, do not shout directions, take the person by the arm, or interrupt them when they are crossing the street. If you are concerned for their safety, ask them if they need help first.
  4. It's helpful to let a person who is blind know that you are nearby and tell them if you have a dog with you.
  5. Do not offer the service dog food or treats. Remember... distracting a service dog can make its owner vulnerable to harm, so treat the dog as if it is not there.

Emotional Support Animal Guidelines

A Therapy Animal is defined as an animal that is necessary for the individual to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. There must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides.

A student who wishes to bring a Therapy Animal to Union College must submit a Therapy Animal Request Form. The Special Accommodations Committee (SAC) will review the documentation and the student will be notified of the decision. Should approval be granted, the student should meet with the Office of Residential Life and Accommodative Services to review the Owner/Handlers’ Responsibilities.

A Therapy Animal should not be brought to campus until approval has been granted. Please note the student must petition for this approval each academic year. For more detailed guidance, see Union College's Office of Community Standards Student Handbook.