Remember that service dogs are working; do not distract them. This includes petting, talking, or making kissy noises. If you think the dog is cute, tell their handler. If you talk to the dog without addressing their handler you are not only distracting the dog, but also making the handler feel like their disability is all you see. Some handlers are happy to answer questions about the dog, but respect their privacy if they don’t want to talk. Understand if a handler doesn’t want to talk; you never know how many stares, questions, points, or pass-by-pettings they have dealt with that day. I advise people to treat students like they would treat a wheelchair; you wouldn’t touch a wheelchair or secretly take pictures of it, would you?
The student is aware that he/she is responsible for immediately cleaning up and properly disposing of the Service Dog’s waste and is responsible for having the equipment to do so. People who are physically unable to accomplish this task are responsible for arranging for it to be done.
The college retains the right to designate a particular area for the Service Dogs to relieve themselves and/or for the disposal of their waste. The waste is to be placed in a dumpster.
The student must be in full control of the Service Dog at all times. Service Dogs must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the Service Dog’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In the latter cases, the individual must maintain control of the Service Dog through voice, signal, or other effective controls. Failure to be in control of a Service Dog, noise complaints, damage or distraction/interruption of the education and or living environment of other students may result in a request to remove the animal.
The student, not the College, is responsible for the actions of the Service Dog including bodily injury or property damage. Students with Service Dogs are likely to be charged if additional cleaning or damage occurs as a result of having the Service Dog on campus. The student is expected to pay these costs upon repair or cleaning. In addition, the college retains the right to remove the Service Dog, at the owner’s expense, should the Service Dog become a direct threat to the health and safety of others or violates these requirements in any way. The college has a “one bite” policy where the animal is to be removed from campus if the dog injures or acts aggressively or toward another person. The student may be subject to Student Conduct for failure to follow the policies for a Service Dog.
- Definition of a Service Dog - A dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Is supported by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, a blind person might use a Service Dog to help navigate a community.
- Definition of an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) - A companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. Can be a dog or possibly some other animal that lives in a student’s residence, but typically does not go to class, etc.
- Definition of a Therapy Animal – An animal (usually a dog or cat) who accompanies the handler to provide therapy in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes
Service Dog Etiquette
DO speak to the owner/handler rather than the dog.
The service dog and their handler are a team. If you want to talk to them, always speak to the person first rather than automatically approaching the dog. Remember, the animal is working, and their human's life could depend on them staying focused on their job.
DON'T touch the dog without asking permission first.
Touching or petting a working dog is a distraction and may prevent them from tending to their human partner. The dog may be in the process of completing a command or direction given by their human, and you don't want to interfere. Fortunately, most service dogs are trained to stay in work mode until they receive a release command from their handler. That's why many service dogs are able to ignore outside influences.
DON'T offer food to a service dog
According to Canine Companions for Independence, "Food is the ultimate distraction to the working dog and can jeopardize the working assistance dog team."
Not only are food and treats a potential distraction, but many service dogs are fed a specific diet and often on a specific schedule.
DO treat the owner/handler with sensitivity and respect
Asking a service dog's handler personal questions about their disability is out of bounds. It's disrespectful and an intrusion of privacy.
Assume the service dog team can handle things themselves. If you sense they could use your help, ask first. And don't take it personally if your offer is rejected, as there is usually a good reason.
DON'T assume a napping service dog is off duty
All dogs nap, including working dogs. When their handler is sitting or standing for some length of time, it's perfectly natural and appropriate for a service dog to catch a few winks. They are still technically at work, however, so all do’s and don’ts remain in effect.
DO inform the handler if a service dog approaches you
If a working dog approaches you, sniffs or nudges you, etc., politely let the handler know. Resist the urge to respond to the dog — the handler will correct the dog. Handlers are to have control over the animal at all times.