Service Animal (Policy SW-39)

It is the policy of Clarkson College ("College") to afford individuals with disabilities, who require the assistance of a service animal, with equal opportunity to access College property, courses, programs and activities. This policy complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"). Among other things, the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act require the College to make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of service animals by students, faculty, staff or visitors with a disability.

Definition of Service Animal

The ADA defines a service animal 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." Importantly, other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of the ADA. However, under certain conditions, the College will make reasonable modifications for a miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.

When assessing whether a dog is a service animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, the dog must be trained to do work or perform tasks that are directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • assisting 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
  • assisting persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

The crime deterrent effects of a dog’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for purposes of determining if a dog is a service animal under this policy.

Verification of Service Animal

The College will not ask about the nature or extent of an individual's disability or for medical documentation of it. However, when it is not readily apparent that the service animal identified by the individual with a disability is trained to do work or perform tasks for him or her, the Accommodations office may ask the individual with the disability if the dog is required because of a disability and what work or task the dog has been trained to perform. The College will not, however, require documentation that the dog has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.

Care and Supervision of Service Animal

The individual with the disability using a service animal (the “owner”) is responsible for the service animal’s care and supervision. The service animal must be under the control of the owner at all times and must have a harness, leash, or other tether. If the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the performance of the work or tasks performed by the service animal or is impractical because of the owner’s disability, a harness, leash, or other tether may not be required. However, the owner must still be able to effectively control the service animal by other means such as voice controls or signals.

A service animal is generally permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to College facilities where members of the public, students, staff, and faculty are permitted. The College may ask the owner to remove a service animal from any of its facilities if: (1) the service animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it; or (2) the service animal is not housebroken. The College may also ask the owner to remove a service animal from any of its facilities if the use or presence of the service animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or if the animal’s behavior, such as barking, is unreasonably disruptive to the other students or College personnel.

The College may impose legitimate safety requirements on the use or presence of a service animal that are necessary for safe operation of its facilities. There are some facilities that are not safe for use or presence of service animals and from which the College may exclude service animals on a case-by-case basis based on actual risks. Examples of these areas include food preparation areas, medically sensitive patient and clinical areas, and biologically sensitive areas. If a service animal is restricted from an area, the Accommodations office is available to assist in evaluating reasonable accommodations for the service animal owner.

The owner must abide by current city, county and state ordinances, laws, and regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws and regulations. The College has a right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate. The College reserves the right to request documentation showing the animal has been licensed. The owner is responsible to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s feces in a safe and sanitary manner.

The College will not ask for or require the owner to pay a surcharge or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. However, an owner may be charged any damage caused by his or her service animal.

Request for Notice

Service animal owners are not required to register their service animal with the College. Owners are encouraged, however, to contact the Accommodations office so that the Accommodations office can assist the service animal owner by providing advance notice to College personnel that the service animal owner and his/her service animal are entitled to access. Faculty and staff members wishing to utilize a service animal on campus are requested to notify the director of Human Resources at 402.552.3395.

For further questions, please contact the Accommodations coordinator at or at 402.552.2693. Any denial of a service animal may be appealed through the College grievance process.

Request for Service Animal in Student Housing

Service animals are allowed in student housing under ADA. Students with service animals are requested to contact the Accommodations coordinator prior to move-in to student housing. The College requests that the student with a service animal provide as much advance notice as possible prior to the desired move-in date so that the College can best accommodate the student and the service animal. A meeting may be arranged between the student, the Residence Hall coordinator, and the director of Facilities to discuss how best to meet the needs of all involved. The Accommodations coordinator will provide information on expectations for the service animal to the student and communicate to other College community members to ease the transition of the student.

If it is not readily apparent that the service animal identified by the individual with a disability is trained to work or perform tasks for him/her, it will be necessary for the student to provide this information to the Accommodations coordinator.

Violation of Policy

Depending on the seriousness of the service animal’s conduct or repeated conduct, a service animal may be excluded from College property temporarily or permanently. If a service animal is excluded, the Accommodations office will assist the student in identifying reasonable accommodations. Service animal owners who violate this policy or disregard an instruction to remove or exclude a service animal from College property may be subject to additional penalties, including the service animal being banned from any College property or subjected to other fines or penalties under applicable ordinances/laws/regulations. Violations of this policy by the service animal owner may be referred for disciplinary action.