Service Animal Policy


The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) 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. The use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability is permitted if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.  The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, 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 helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADAAA.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.  Persons with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of BGSU where members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees are allowed to go or as the activity pertains to curriculum or employment responsibilities.


There are instances when a service animal may be restricted as the ADAAA authorizes places of public accommodation to impose restrictions if these are based on safety requirements.  The ADAAA permits inquiries such as, if an animal is a service animal or what tasks the animal has been trained to perform.  A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the animal’s owner does not take effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly during a class) or (2) the animal is not housebroken.  In determining whether reasonable accommodation can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, the following factors for consideration are permissible:  (A) The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features; (B) Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse; (C) Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and, (D) Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation.  If an animal is properly excluded, the individual with a disability shall be provided the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises.  With regard to colleges/universities, there may be restrictions to service animals in the clinical practica of nursing and health science programs, in food services programs, or in laboratories that can pose a safety risk.  Allergies and fear of animals are generally not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals. Exceptions would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.  In such a case, an interactive dialogue will be initiated to determine what other reasonable accommodation could be provided.  Anyone on campus, inclusive of Faculty, Staff, Students and Visitors requiring the use of a service animal should contact the Office of Disability Services.  Staff will evaluate the required documentation from an appropriate professional and make recommendations.

1. Students, faculty, staff and visitors are allowed to bring service animals onto college property.

a. Staff conducting the evaluation shall not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal.  Staff conducting the evaluation may ask (1) if the animal is required because of a disability and (2) what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal is not required.          

2. Service animal/handler code of conduct:

a. A service animal must be under the control of its handler.  A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).

b. Service animals must be immunized according to state and local regulations per the type of animal.  If local statutes require, the service animal must wear a vaccination tag.  Additionally, the service animal must be in good health.  Handlers may be asked to leave a classroom, office or other university property if their service animal is visibly ill or becomes ill.

c. The service animal must be clean.  Temporary un-cleanliness due to weather conditions is understood.

3. Emergency situations

a. If University personnel are aware that a service animal is present when an emergency occurs, then the aforementioned personnel will notify the responding emergency personnel that a service animal is present with a handler who is disabled.  University personnel will relay information concerning the type of service animal.

b. In the event of a building evacuation, emergency personnel may try to rescue both the handler and the service animal. The service animal may have to be left behind however in some circumstances.

4. Requirements for Faculty, Staff and Students regarding service animals.

a. Allow a service animal to accompany the handler everywhere at all times on BGSU property, unless a specific area is deemed off limits.

b. Do not approach or pet a service animal.

c. Do not feed a service animal.

d. Do not attempt to separate a service animal from its handler unless necessary in an emergency situation.

5. BGSU is not responsible for providing food, water, health care, supervision or shelter for a service animal.

6.  An individual with a disability is not required (a) to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or (b) comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets.  If individuals are normally charged for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.