Davidson College recognizes the importance of Service Animals to individuals with disabilities.

The following guidelines regarding Service Animals have been established to assist individuals with disabilities who will have a Service Animal with them on campus. These guidelines also ensure that students who require the use of a Service Animal may be appropriately accommodated affording them full participation and equal access to the College’s programs and activities.

Davidson College reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances might require. Davidson College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990/2010 revised in allowing use of Service Animals for students, faculty, staff and visitors as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1974 and the Fair Housing Act.

The Definition of a Service Animal

The ADA defines a Service Animal as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a 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, performing tasks to lessen the effect of an anxiety attack for a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or performing other duties. Service Animals are working animals and not pets. The work or task a Service Animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. 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 ADA makes a distinction between psychiatric Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals. For example, a dog that has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and takes a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact would qualify as a Service Animal. A dog that provides comfort merely by its presence is not considered a Service Animal because the dog has not been trained to perform a task in relation to the person’s disability. Animals whose sole function are to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as Service Animals under the ADA. For more information about Emotional Support Animals, please refer to Davidson College’s Emotional Support Animal Policy.

In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the ADA has established that under certain circumstances, miniature horses may be considered as Service Animals.

Determination of a Service Animal

When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, the ADA only permits limited inquiries. Campus personnel may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Campus personnel cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its

ability to perform the work or task. A service dog can be any breed or size. It might wear specialized equipment such as a backpack, harness, or special collar or leash, but this is not a legal requirement.

The Rights and Responsibilities of Students with Service Animals on Campus

The ADA allows Service Animals accompanying persons with disabilities to be on Davidson College’s campus. A Service Animal must be permitted “to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.” Students with a Service Animal are permitted everywhere on campus where students are allowed to go, including food service locations, except in situations where safety may be compromised or where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.

Allergies and a fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to students using Service Animals. In these types of situations, efforts should be made to accommodate both the person with allergies or fear of dogs and the student with a service animal.

Residence Life is committed to supporting college residents with disabilities and their use of Service Animals while residing in campus housing. Students are encouraged to register their Service Animal with the Office of Academic Access and Disability Resources and Residence Life. A voluntary registry, which is permitted by the ADA, may serve to ensure that emergency staff members know to look for Service Animals during an emergency evacuation process and allows other campus entities, such as building services and physical plant, to be aware of the presence of an animal in a residence hall living space. Once registered, Residence Life shares information about students with Service Animals in the residence halls with Campus Police, Physical Plant, and Building Services. Students are encouraged to display a Residence Life Office-approved sign indicating that an animal is present in the living space.

Students with Service Animals must uphold the following responsibilities:

  • The student is responsible for assuring that the Service Animal does not interfere with routine activities of the classroom, residence hall, or other College facilities or cause difficulties for students involved in these activities.
  • The ADA requires that Service Animals be under the control of the handler at all times. In most instances, the handler will be the student with a disability. Service Animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in public places unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the student’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the student must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. Under control also means that a service animal should not be allowed to bark repeatedly in a lecture hall, theater, library, or other quiet place. However, if a dog barks just once, or barks because someone has provoked it, this would not be considered out of control.
  • The student is responsible for caring for and supervising the service animal, which includes toileting, feeding, grooming and veterinary care. The animal should be appropriately taken care of and in good health. The College is not obligated to supervise, provide food and water, or otherwise care for a Service Animal.
  • The student is responsible for the immediate and appropriate disposal of the Service Animal’s waste from all campus facilities and areas. All waste and used cleaning supplies must be disposed of in a trash receptacle external to the residence halls and campus buildings. Waste must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied before disposing of the bag in an outside trash receptacle.
  • The student with a Service Animal must abide by current town, county, and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals, which includes immediately reporting animal bites to Davidson College Campus Police.

The Service Animal cannot pose a direct threat to the health and safety of anyone on the college campus. A student may be asked to remove a Service Animal from the premises if: (1) the Service Animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, (2) the Service Animal is not housebroken, or (3) the Service Animal is not being cared for adequately. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a Service Animal be removed, staff must first offer the student with a disability the opportunity to remedy the issue.

In keeping with appropriate college policies and procedures, the student may be charged for damage caused by the student or the service animal. The student is financially responsible for the actions of their Service Animal including bodily injury or property damage. The student is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair or at move out as determined by Residence Life staff. Likewise the student is responsible for expenses incurred due to the need for cleaning above and beyond standard cleaning or repair of College property. The College may bill the account of the student for unmet obligations.

Campus Community Reminders about Service Animals

Students, faculty, and staff should remember the following when they encounter an individual with a service animal:

  • Do not pet a service animal without first asking permission; touching the animal might distract it from its work.
  • Speak first to the person.
  • Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
  • Do not feed a service animal.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate a person from their service animal.
  • In case of an emergency, every effort should be made to keep the service animal with its student.

For questions regarding this policy, please contact the Office of Academic Access and Disability Resources by calling 704-894-2129 or emailing AADR@davidson.edu.