1. Union Home
  2. Offices & Services
  3. Dean of Students
  4. Student Handbook
  5. Academic Policies
  6. Students with Disabilities
  7. Service Animals

Policy on Service Animals

It is the user/handler’s responsibility to ensure the safety of a service animal. 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. 

Types Of Service Animals

  • Guide Dog:  A dog that is trained that serves as a travel tool for individuals who are blind or have low vision. 
  • Hearing Dog:  A that has been trained to alert a person with a significant hearing loss or who is deaf when a sound occurs (e.g. a 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 may include carrying, fetching, ringing doorbells. Activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, 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 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 methods 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.
  • Miniature Horse:  The college shall make reasonable accommodations, taking into consideration: (1) the type, size and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate its features; (2) whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse; (3) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and (4) whether the miniature horse's presence in the facility compromises legitimate safety requirements necessary for operation.

Control Requirements 

  • The animal must be on a leash at all times. It should never be permitted to wander around off leash except if the animal is working. 
  • The handler/partner must be in full control of the animal at all times. 
  • The animal must be as unobtrusive as possible. 
  • The animal must be well groomed and measures should be at all times to maintain flea and odor control. 
  • Consideration of others must be taken into account when providing maintenance and hygiene of assistance animals.

A service animal must be well-behaved and its partner must ensure that the animal does not engage in behaviors that would be a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Service animals shall be permitted to accompany that student at all school functions, whether in or outside the classroom. Consider the service animal as a necessary accessory such as a wheelchair would be considered and allowed at all times. When a service animal is determined to be out of control, the infraction will be treated on an individual basis through Accommodative Services and the Dean of Students.  If the animal poses a threat to the safety of others, Campus Safety will be part of the collaborative team to determine the outcome of the behavior.  Consequences may include, but are not limited to, muzzling a barking dog, refresher training for the animal and its partner or exclusion from college facilities. 

Should the animal be excluded due to being out of control, the College will give the individual who uses the service animal the option of continuing to attend the College without having that service animal on the premises. 

Public Etiquette by Students/Staff/Faculty/Administrators on Campus 

Individuals should not: 

  • Pet a service animal while it working. Service animals are trained to be protective of their partners and petting distracts them from their responsibilities.  
  • Feed a working service animal.
  • Deliberately tease or taunt a service animal. 
  • Separate or attempt to separate a partner from his/her handler. 
  • 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, the location of an elevator, etc. 
  • Feed a service animal alcohol on or off campus. To do such will result in disciplinary action. 

Relief Areas 

Relief areas will be designated on an individual basis with the collaboration of the Accommodative Services Office and the facilities ground personnel. It is the user/handler's responsibility to be aware of the dog's need to relieve itself and act accordingly.

Areas of Safety 

There are certain instances when it may be considered unsafe for animals in such places as medical facilities, laboratories, mechanical rooms or any other place where the safety of the animal or its partner may be threatened. Each place will be considered as to its safety potential by a team of individuals, including Accommodative Services, the laboratory director or professor, and the College risk management team.  When it is determined unsafe for the team to be in one of these areas, reasonable accommodations will be provided to assure the individual equal access to the activity. 

Conflicting Disabilities 

It is common for persons to have a disability that precipitates an allergic reaction to animals. Persons who have asthma/allergy/medical issues with the animal are to be directed to make the complaint to the Accommodative Services. The person making the complaint must provide verifiable medical documentation to support their claim. Action will be taken to consider the needs of both persons to resolve the problem as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

Residence Halls 

The guidelines for conflicting disabilities apply in the residence halls, as well. If there is an allergy/animal conflict within residence hall that cannot be resolved agreeably, then the Department of Residential Life and the Accommodative Services will collaborate on a solution.  It should be noted that if the first person that has been permitted into the residence hall uses a service animal and another person with severe allergies then arrives, the first person cannot be removed to accommodate the second person (Disability Compliance for Higher Education, July 1996. Vol. 1, No. 12, p 4 and 5). 


Students in need of a service animal are asked to complete a brief Registration Form at  Accommodative Services  located in Reamer Campus Center 303. Union College wants to make sure appropriate departments are notified such as Residential Life, Academics, and Campus Safety.

The animal’s waste must be removed into a proper receptacle.  Individuals unable to clean up after their animals or who need assistance should notify Accommodative Services so that alternative arrangements may be agreed upon. If an animal urinates or defecates inside of a building, or in another area that requires cleaning or maintenance, the owner must notify the Facilities Services and will be responsible for the cost of such cleaning.