The information below details the procedures for the use of service animals by students and employees on the St. Thomas Aquinas College campus. St. Thomas Aquinas College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in allowing use of service animals for students, staff, and visitors.
Service Animal: “A service animal as per the ADA is defined 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’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. 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.”
QUALIFYING TO HAVE A SERVICE ANIMAL ON CAMPUS
For an individual qualifying to have a service animal on campus:
- The student must have a disability as defined by the ADA.
- The animal must be trained to perform specific tasks or work for the qualified individual.
- The tasks performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.
- Students must register with Disability Services, if the service animal will be housed on campus so that housing accommodations can be coordinated.
- The student must contact Disability Services as early as possible to allow time to gather and review all required documentation.
- Is responsible for attending to and being in full control of the service animal at all times. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether unless a) the owner is unable, because of a disability, to use a harness, leash, or tether, or b) using a harness, leash, or tether will interfere with the animal’s ability to safely and effectively perform its work, in which case the animal must be under the handler’s control (e.g. voice control, signals, or other commands).
- Is responsible for ensuring that the service animal is wearing a leash or harness that identifies the animal as a service animal when on duty anywhere on campus.
- Is responsible for ensuring that the service animal is fully trained to perform the work or task required.
- Is responsible for the costs of care necessary for the service animal’s well-being. The arrangements and responsibilities with the care of a service animal is the sole responsibility of the owner at all times, including regular bathing and grooming.
- Is responsible for independently removing or arranging for the removal of the service animal’s waste. Waste must be disposed of in a sealed bag in the designated trash receptacle as determined by the Housing Office.
- Is responsible for complying with local and state licensing laws for animal rights and owner responsibilities. Service animals should be current with immunizations and wear a rabies vaccination tag.
- Is responsible for paying for any damage to College property caused by the animal.
- Anytime the owner leaves campus overnight and/or during College breaks, the animal must leave, as well.
The proper way to determine that an animal is a service animal is to ask the owner if the animal is required because of a disability. If the animal is required due to a disability, only two questions can be asked:
- Is the service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task is the animal trained to perform?
The College community:
- Must allow service animals to accompany their owners at all times and everywhere on campus where the general public or other students are allowed, except for places where there is a health, environmental, or safety hazard.
- Must not ask questions about the individual’s disability.
- Should not pet or feed a service animal.
- Should not tease a service animal or attempt to separate it from its owner.
- Must not charge a fee for the service animal to reside in a residence hall, but may charge fees for damages incurred by the service animal.
- Should report service animals who misbehave or owners (or other individuals) who mistreat their service animals to Campus Safety.
An individual with a disability cannot be asked to remove their service animal from the campus unless:
- The animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it.
- The animal is not housebroken.
- The animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
- The animal’s presence creates a fundamental alteration of the college’s programs, as defined by the ADA.
- Any other qualifying reason under the ADA.
St. Thomas Aquinas College:
The College may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions or places where the animal might be in danger. Restricted areas may include but are not limited to food preparation areas, research laboratories, boiler rooms, and other areas prohibited by law.
- Assists owners and the College community when questions or concerns arise relating to Service animals on campus, seeking legal advice when necessary.
- Is responsible for developing the procedures for the College and facilitating the use of Service animals by individuals on campus.
Students who intend to bring a service animal to campus should contact Anne Schlinck – Director, Disability Services at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. Disability Services is located in Spellman Hall, Room 109.
GUIDELINES FOR REQUESTING TO USE AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL (ESA) ON CAMPUS
St. Thomas Aquinas College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who seek to bring an emotional support animal (ESA) to campus must adhere to the guidelines described in this policy. Students are not permitted to keep emotional support animals in residential buildings without prior approval as a reasonable accommodation of a disability through Disability Services.
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with a disability may be entitled to keep an emotional support animal (ESA) as a reasonable accommodation of a disability in a campus housing facility. An emotional support animal is an animal that is necessary to afford the individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use or enjoy an on-campus residence hall when there is an identifiable relationship between the individual’s disability and the assistance that the animal provides. An emotional support animal is prescribed to an individual with a disability by a health care or mental health professional and is an integral part of the individual’s treatment plan. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA (unless the animal is trained to perform specific tasks related to the disability) and are governed by separate policies on the St. Thomas Aquinas College campus. Emotional support animals are only permitted within the individual’s assigned residence in on-campus housing. Emotional support animals are never permitted in other campus buildings such as academic buildings, classrooms, athletic facilities, libraries, dining halls, and other public residence hall spaces, except for the transport in/out of the residence hall.
ACCOMMODATION REQUEST PROCESS
To request approval for an emotional support animal, the student must complete the following steps:
- Visit Disability Services in person to initiate the request for an emotional support animal as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The student must complete a Request for Emotional Support Animal form in its entirety.
- Professional documentation of a mental health condition must be submitted to Disability Services. The individual’s treating clinician must complete a Request for Information: Emotional Support Animal Documentation form. Documentation must establish the therapeutic need for the animal that is directly connected to the individual’s disability. Documentation also must establish that the emotional support animal is necessary to afford the individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use a dwelling or to participate in campus housing.
- A copy of the animal’s most recent vaccination/rabies record from a veterinarian must be submitted to Disability Services.
- If the animal is required to be licensed in New York State (such as a dog), proof of the dog’s license must be submitted to Disability Services. If your emotional support animal requires licensing, you may apply for a dog license through the Town of Orangetown Dog License Application.
- All roommates will be contacted to determine if other students in the assigned on campus residence hall have any concerns about potentially living with an animal (i.e., allergies).
- In order to be considered for an accommodation of bringing an emotional support animal to campus, the owner must initiate contact with Disability Services no less than 60 days prior to the animal’s arrival to campus. This allows time to gather all necessary documentation. Animals may not be brought to campus prior to approval being granted.
All requests for the accommodation of an ESA are determined on a case-by-case basis. A request for the accommodation of an ESA living on campus is not a guarantee of approval.
OWNER’S RESPONSIBILITIES FOR AN APPROVED EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL (ESA)
If St. Thomas Aquinas College grants an individual’s request to live with an Emotional Support Animal as a reasonable accommodation of a disability, the individual is solely responsible for the custody and care of the animal. The individual must meet the following requirements:
- The Owner must follow current city, county, and state laws and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the individual’s responsibility to know and understand these laws and/or regulations, which may include a certificate of vaccination. The College reserves the right to request documentation showing that the animal is vaccinated and licensed.
- The Owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the emotional support animal’s waste immediately and in a safe and sanitary manner. Waste must be disposed of in a sealed bag in a designated trash area of the residence life complex.
- If the ESA voids on the floor anywhere inside the residence hall, or causes any damage to the residence hall, the Owner is responsible to clean it up immediately and submit a work order request with Facilities for the area to be disinfected properly/repaired. The Owner is responsible for all costs associated with clean up/repairs of damaged areas.
- The Owner is responsible to be in full control of the ESA at all times. The ESA must have a harness, leash, or be transported in an appropriate animal carrier whenever it is outside of the Owner’s assigned residence hall room.
- In shared living spaces, the emotional support animal must be in an appropriate enclosure/container if the Owner is not in the room.
- In shared living spaces, the emotional support animal must remain in the Owners space and not in common areas.
- Due to the limited space in dormitory rooms, the space available may not be able to accommodate larger-sized animals and/or their enclosure/container. This will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- The Owner is solely responsible for the costs of care necessary for the emotional support animal’s well-being.
- The Owner is solely responsible for the feeding, watering, toileting, regular bathing and grooming of the emotional support animal.
- The Owner is responsible for not leaving an emotional support animal unattended for an unreasonable length of time. If the Owner leaves campus overnight and during College breaks, the emotional support animal must leave as well.
- The Owner must follow all applicable campus housing policies, including room inspections.
- The Owner is responsible for notifying the Disability Services if the emotional support animal is no longer needed or no longer living on campus.
If the Owner has concerns about any matter affecting his/her responsibilities concerning an approved emotional support animal, the Owner must contact Disability Services.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COLLEGE COMMUNITY IN RELATION TO ESAS
- The College community must allow emotional support animals to reside with their Owners in the Owner’s assigned on campus residence hall once the disability accommodation is approved.
- The College community must report to Campus Safety any emotional support animal who misbehaves or any Owner (or other individual) who mistreats the emotional support animal.
- The College community must refrain from charging fees for the emotional support animal to live in the Owner’s assigned on campus residence hall, but may charge fees for any damages caused by the emotional support animal.
A student with an approved emotional support animal may be asked to remove the animal from the St. Thomas Aquinas College campus for any of the following reasons:
- The emotional support animal is found to be out of control or disruptive and the Owner does not take immediate and effective action to control it.
- The emotional support animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or causes substantial property damage to the property of others or the College.
- The Owner does not comply with the Owner’s responsibilities outlined above.
- The emotional support animal is not house-trained (house broken).
- The emotional support animal is found to be neglected, unreasonably dirty, or mistreated and immediate corrective action is not taken. Additionally, aggressive behavior exhibited by an emotional support animal such as biting, lunging, excessive growling, etc. will not be tolerated and may result in the approval of the emotional support animal being rescinded.
- The emotional support animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance such as, but not limited to, excessive barking/noise that interferes with the College community.
- The emotional support animal is physically ill.
Students who have been denied the use of an emotional support animal and disagree with the College’s decision have the right to file a grievance. For more information about how to file a grievance, please see our Disability Grievance Policy Page.