Service and Support Animal Policy
Becker College has established the following policy regarding Service and Support Animals, to assist individuals with disabilities. Being mindful of all health and safety concerns regarding the campus community, Becker College generally limits the presence of privately-owned animals on campus. However, the College will reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities who require the assistance of Service and Support Animals, as appropriate.
The Accommodation Committee is responsible for implementing this policy and for guiding students with disabilities in documenting their specific request for reasonable and appropriate accommodations. Each request regarding service and/or support animals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the needs of the individual and the College community. The successful implementation of this policy requires the cooperation of all students, faculty, staff and visitors of the Becker community. Becker College reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances require.
I. Service Animals
Service animals are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. The requesting person must have a disability as defined by the ADA and the accompanying animal must be trained to do specific tasks for the requesting individual.
Types of Service Animals:
–Guide Dog: A dog that has been trained to serve as a travel tool for individuals who are blind or have severe visual impairments.
–Hearing Dog: A dog that has been trained to alert an individual who is deaf or who has a significant hearing impairment, to sounds such as knocks on doors, fire alarms, a phone ringing, etc.
Service/Personal Assistance Dog: A dog that has been trained to assist an individual who has a specific mobility or health issue. These dogs may carry or fetch items, open doors, ring doorbells, activate elevator buttons, steady a person while walking, help a person up after a fall, and other duties as needed/trained. Service dogs may be referred to as assistance dogs.
–Signal (“Sig”) Dog: A dog who has been trained to work with individuals with autism. The trained dog makes the handler aware of distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement. Signal dogs may also provide assistance similar to that of a guide/hearing dog to mitigate the effects of various sensory deficits associated with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders.
–Seizure Response Dog: A dog trained to help individuals with seizure disorders by sometimes sensing the onset of a seizure and warning the person, or providing assistance during/after the event.
–Psychiatric Service Dog: A dog trained in helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive/destructive behavior, and/or providing other duties as needed.
II. Support Animals (assistance/emotional support animals)
A support animal is considered a dog or other common domestic animal that provides therapeutic support to an individual with an identified disability. These animals do not meet the ADA definition of a Service Animal, but may qualify under the Fair Housing Act. Support animals may not be brought to housing without prior approval. Approved support animals are only permitted within a student’s on-campus housing assignment; they may not be permitted in academic buildings, cafeterias and/or other college facilities. Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and requires prior comprehensive documentation and approval as outlined in this policy.
III. Procedures for Approval of Service and Support Animals in College Housing
Incoming students must submit their request for the accommodation of a service or support animal in college housing with their initial housing application by the application deadline. The request form is available on the Residence Life Web-site. Current residents must submit requests by the appropriate fall housing selection deposit date for the following academic year. Spring semester requests are due no later than December 1st. All requests are subject to review and require current documentation as outlined in this policy. While requests made after the designated deadline will be accepted and considered, there is no guarantee that the institution will be able to meet late applicants’ accommodation request. To make a request, students must contact the office of Residence Life and provide appropriate and timely documentation as indicated.
IV. Documentation for a Service Animal
Students must submit comprehensive documentation by following Becker College’s guidelines for disability documentation, and including the following additional information:
- A letter detailing the tasks or function the animal has been trained to perform as a disability-related accommodation, (provide certification information, if applicable) and the type/description of animal.
- Information to establish the nature of the disability and related functional limitations to be mitigated through the work or tasks performed by the service animal which is being requested.
Insufficient documentation that does not fulfill the outlined requirements regarding a Service Animal may result in delays or denial of the requested accommodation.
V. Documentation for a Support Animal
Requests to house a support animal in campus housing require comprehensive documentation to be submitted before review and rendering of a decision and/or recommendation. Documentation must be dated within the last 6 months.
Documentation of the need for a support animal should follow Becker College’s general guidelines for disability documentation, and should include the following information:
- Credentials and contact information of the evaluator(s);
- Diagnostic statement identifying the disability;
- Description of the diagnostic methodology used;
- Description of the current functional limitations;
- Description of the expected progression or stability of the disability;
- Description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications;
- Statement about how the animal serves as an accommodation for the verified disability;
- Statement about how the need for the animal relates to the ability of the resident student to use the living arrangements provided by the College.
An individual approved for a support animal accommodation must:
- Follow all established College policies (including the Code of Conduct);
- Register the animal with the Asst. Director of Housing/Student Conduct and the Disability Specialist prior to moving into campus housing each year;
- Provide updated documentation at the start of each academic semester, including verification of license and good health, pursuant to applicable laws;
- Review and sign appropriate forms as requested at the start of each academic year.
VI. Conflicting Needs/Health Concerns
The institution will make a reasonable effort to notify residents in the building where the service and/or support animal will be located. Individuals who have medical issues and are affected by animals (e.g., asthma, severe allergies, etc.) should contact Health Services and Residence Life as soon as possible. The individual may be required to provide verifiable medical documentation to support the claim. Reasonable accommodations may be made to consider the needs of both persons to resolve an issue as efficiently and effectively as possible. If there is an allergy/animal conflict within a residence hall, or elsewhere, that cannot be resolved between the two parties, then the Residential/Housing Office and Health Services will collaborate on a solution.
If a service or support animal damages the assigned residence hall room or other College property, the cost of the damage will be assessed and assigned to the student’s account. The owner/handler is responsible for ensuring cleanliness and proper care and treatment of the animal and its environment.
VIII. Responsibilities of Handlers Using Service & Support Animals in Housing
- Students with disabilities who utilize service or support animals at Becker College must register each semester with Residence Life and Disability Services. Students who are seeking housing must complete the appropriate housing request process in addition to requesting the necessary accommodations for an approved service or support animal, as described in the policy.
- The handler is responsible for assuring that the approved animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence hall or cause difficulties for students who reside there.
- The animal must have a current health record, including vaccination record, from a licensed veterinarian which is dated within the past year. Verification of good health must be provided at the beginning of every semester.
- The animal must meet legal requirements; all licensure requirements of the city/town of the animal’s residence must be met. Evidence of such a license must be provided to Residence Life and Disability Services. Students may be required to license the animal in either the city of Worcester or Leicester under current Massachusetts law.
- The handler is responsible for any damage caused by the animal and must take appropriate steps in assuring the prevention of property damage or injury. The cost of care, arrangements and responsibilities for the well-being of an authorized animal are the sole responsibility of the handler at all times.
- The animal must be well groomed and appropriate measures taken at all times for flea, tick and odor control. The residence may be inspected at any time for fleas, ticks and other pest, as needed. If deemed necessary, college-approved pest control services will be utilized and the handler will be responsible for the expense of any necessary pest treatment.
- Support animals must be contained within the handler’s housing assignment at all times, except when transported outside the private residential area en route off-campus in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness. A service animal may travel with the handler throughout the campus, except in prohibited areas which are outlined in Section IX.
- Service and support animals are not to be left alone overnight in campus housing or left to be cared for by another student/individual. If the handler leaves the campus for a prolonged period of time, the animal must be taken with the handler. The animal is not to be left in a vehicle at any time unattended.
- The College reserves the right to place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the animal depending upon the nature and characteristics of the animal. If an individual/handler feels he or she is unable to comply with any of the requirements contained in the policy, the student should contact Residence Life and Disability Services to address their concerns.
- The handler is responsible for removal and proper disposal of the animal’s waste. Removal must happen immediately. The animal’s waste must be removed into a proper receptacle. If the individual/handler is unable to clean up after the animal because of a disability that prevents them from doing so, or who need assistance, should notify Disability Services so that alternative arrangements may be agreed upon. If an animal should urinate or defecate inside of a building or in another area that requires cleaning or maintenance, the individual/handler must notify Residence Life, and will be responsible for the cost of the cleaning.
- The individual/handler agrees to continue to abide by all other housing and College policies. Reasonable accommodation, which may constitute an exception to a policy that would otherwise prohibit using/housing an animal does not constitute an exception to any other policy.
- The service or support animal must be under control of the individual/handler at all times. Reasonable and appropriate behavior is expected from service or support animals at all times while on campus. If a service animal should exhibit unacceptable behavior, the individual/handler is expected to employ appropriate training techniques to correct the given situation. The animal must wear a leash, harness or other tether unless the handler is unable to use such devises or they interfere with the safe performance of the animal’s work or task.
- All service animals are prohibited from food preparation areas, unless this is a kitchen within the individuals assigned residence space. Access to animal related facilities on campus (i.e. Lenfest Animal Health Center, Equestrian Center, etc.) is permitted with the written consent from the School of Animal Studies Dean.
- If a service or support animal is determined to be out of control, the incident will be addressed on an individual basis. The handler is fully responsible for the actions of the service or support animal. The individual/handler is held to the College code of conduct related to any behavior caused by the animal.
- Consequences for misconduct may include, but are not limited to, a plan for correction of disruption (i.e. muzzling a barking dog), and refresher training for the service animal and handler, or exclusion from Becker College facilities.
- Any violation of these rules may result in immediate removal of the animal from the College, pending disciplinary action. The College may remove an authorized animal when the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals, the animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the College’s program, the handler does not comply with the responsibilities outlined in this policy, or the animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference within the Becker College community.
- Should the approved animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the handler is expected to fulfill housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.
- Should the approved animal need to be replaced, the student must notify Residence Life and Disability Services, and must provide all required documentation as listed previously in this document.
IX. Areas Off-Limits to Service and Support Animals
Becker College may prohibit service animals in specific locations due to health and safety restrictions. Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to: food preparation areas, mechanical rooms, custodial closets, labs, rooms with heavy machinery, areas where protective clothing is necessary, areas where there is a danger to the animal, and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to animals. Authorized animals may be prohibited from labs if the lab supervisor has reason to believe the animal’s presence would compromise the environment or if the area poses a physical danger for the animal. Support animals are only permitted within the individuals/handlers on-campus housing assignment.
X. Removal of Approved Animals
The individual/handler may be directed to remove an animal that is unruly or disruptive to the community (e.g. barking, growling, and jumping on others). If the inappropriate behavior occurs repeatedly, the individual/handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal into any College facility or event until the person can demonstrate that appropriate steps are taken to mitigate the behavior. Any animal that exhibits aggressive or unsafe behavior may be prohibited from Becker College facilities or events.
XI. Expectations for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the College Community Regarding Service or Support Animals
The individual/handler of a service or support animal at any College facility or event is expected to maintain the appropriate behavior of the animal as stated:
- The animal must not be allowed to initiate contact/approach/sniff people, be near tables in eating areas, or near personal belongings of other individuals.
- The animal must not display any behaviors or noises that are seen as disruptive to others, such as barking, growling, or other behavior that is not seen as part of the task that the animal was trained to conduct.
- The animal must not block an aisle or passageway, and cannot impede access to ingress/egress of a facility.
- The animal must be trained to not be attracted to food that may be in common areas used by other faculty, staff or students.
Community Members (students, staff, faculty, and visitors) are to recognize the working role of a Service or Support Animal and adhere to the following:
- All of the individuals above must allow a service animal to accompany its owner/handler at all times and allow support animals as authorized for an individual circumstance.
- All of the individuals above are not to feed, pet or touch an authorized animal without the express invitation of the individual/handler. Service animals are trained to be protective of their owner, among other tasks, and petting the animal can distract them from their working responsibilities.
- All of the individuals above are not to deliberately startle, tease or otherwise distract a service animal.
- All of the individuals above are not to separate or attempt to separate an owner from the service or support animal.
- All of the individuals above are not to inquire details about the owner’s disability or the nature of work of the authorized animal. As the College does not generally allow animals, staff may inquire only: whether the animal is required for a disability or what work/task the animal provides for the owner/handler.
- Faculty will be notified in advance, if an individual requiring the use of a service animal will be attending their course. This will allow for any adjustments that may need to be made prior to the first day of class (i.e., size, location or air conditioning in the classroom).
XII. Grievance Procedures
If a decision is made to deny a request or remove a service or support animal, the individual/handler may request an appeal of the decision in writing to the Appeals Committee. Appeal requests must state a specific reason for reconsideration, and will be reviewed by Joseph Lomastro, Director of Residence Life and Michael Durant, Asst. Dean of Student Academic Support Services.