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Service & Emotional Support Animals

Becker College has established the following policy regarding Service and Support Animals, to assist individuals with disabilities. The scope of this policy is to set forth Becker College’s policy, guidelines and requirements with respect to (a) the admittance and use of Service Animals on its campus, in its facilities including housing, or in other college programs and activities and (b) the keeping of a Support Animal in a College housing.

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.

It is Becker College’s general policy to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities whenever an individual has a disability and there is a disability-related need for the requested accommodation. For purposes of this policy, an individual with a disability is an individual who provides the College with current and appropriate documentation of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits them in a major life activity, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and, for Support Animals in housing, the Fair Housing Act (FHAct).

The Accommodation Committee is responsible for implementing this policy and for guiding students with disabilities in documenting their specific request for reasonable 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
A Service Animal is not a pet. Service Animals are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work or task the animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the individual’s disability, meaning that the dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the individual with a 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. A Service Animal under the ADA does not include a dog whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is the policy of Becker College that Service Animals will be allowed to accompany individuals with disabilities on the College campus, in College facilities, programs, and activities to the same extent as access is granted to non-disabled persons, except as described below or otherwise governed by applicable law. This policy applies to students, employees, and other persons coming on the campus or into the College’s facilities.

Students with Service Animals

We ask that students make themselves known to the College, either by contacting the Office of Student Life or the Disability Services Office should they desire to have a Service Animal accompany them in academic classes, activities, or services on campus.

If a student plans to have their Service Animal live with them in College housing, the student should provide notice to the College especially if requesting any type of accommodation for the Service Animal. Notice to the College is used solely to ensure the appropriate housing placement is made. A student’s notification of the need to have a Service Animal reside in College Housing should be directed to the Office of Residence Life in accordance with the procedures in Section III below and, if possible, submitted at the same time as requests for disability-based housing accommodations are required to be submitted so that the housing assignment process can most effectively assign appropriate housing to accommodate a Service Animal.

II. Support Animals (assistance/emotional support animals)

Policy on Support Animals: Becker College is committed to granting reasonable accommodations to its rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwellings, as required by federal, state, and local law. A reasonable accommodation may include a change or exception to a rule or policy that is needed because of a person’s disability (such as a no pet rule), or it may be a physical change to a unit or common area. A disability-related need for a requested accommodation exists when there is an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested accommodation and the individual’s disability.

A Support Animal is not a pet. It is an animal, such as a dog or other common domestic animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks or services for the benefit of an individual with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. A request for a reasonable accommodation to allow a Support Animal to reside in College housing with a student with a disability is reviewed under the provisions and requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHAct). Support Animals are permitted to reside in College housing only after approval of the requested accommodation that has been submitted, with required documentation, to the Office of Residence Life in accordance with this Policy. Approved Support Animals must remain within a student’s on-campus housing assignment (except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief) and are not allowed in academic buildings, cafeterias and/or any other college facilities. Each request for an accommodation to have a Support Animal in College housing is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and requires prior documentation and approval as outlined in this policy.

III. Procedures for Requests for Accommodations for Service and Support Animals in Housing

Incoming students who will be living on campus must submit their request for the accommodation of a Service Animal on campus or for a Support Animal to reside in college housing with their initial housing application by the application deadline. The request form is available on the Residence Life website. 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 1. All requests are subject to review and require current documentation as outlined in this policy. While requests may be made after the designated deadline and will be considered, there is no guarantee that the College 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.

A. Allowed Inquiries to Determine if a Dog is a Service Animal
In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a Service Animal, College employees may ask two specific 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?

The College employees are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature or extent of the person’s disability. A student who wishes to request accommodations of a disability other than to have a Service or Support Animal in campus housing must submit comprehensive documentation by following Becker College’s guidelines for disability documentation, and including the following additional information:

B. Requests and Documentation for an Accommodation of a Support Animal
Requests to house a Support Animal in campus housing must be accompanied by a statement from a reliable professional third party with knowledge of the individual’s disability, dated within the past six months, indicating that the individual requesting the accommodation has a disability (if the disability is not obvious) and describing the accommodation and showing the relationship between the disability and the accommodation. This means the documentation must indicate that the Support Animal will serve a function directly related to the individual’s disability, that is, there must be an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested accommodation for a Support Animal and the individual’s disability. The individual with a disability must demonstrate a disability-related need for the animal, such as service, or assistance, performing tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or providing emotional support that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. In most cases, individual medical records are not required.

Becker College, in consultation with the student making the request, and other parties as appropriate, may consider the criteria below in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable in the making of housing assignments for individuals with assistance animals:

  • Whether the animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others.
  • Whether the animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  • Whether the size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space.
  • Whether the animal’s presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies).
  • Whether the animal’s presence otherwise violates individuals’ right to peace and quiet enjoyment.
  • Whether the animal is housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner.

The individual must provide written consent for Becker College Office of Residence Life to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the Support Animal to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal including, but not limited to, Residence Life personnel and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability. Becker College reserves the right to assign an individual with a Support Animal to a single room without a roommate upon availability.

C. Requests for Other Accommodations
A student who wishes to request an accommodation of a disability other than to have a Service or Support Animal in campus housing must make that request and submit the required documentation in accordance with Becker College’s guidelines for disability accommodations and documentation to [add name of department and website where information is found]

IV. Owner Responsibilities, Procedures and Requirements for Service and Support Animals on Campus.

A. General Responsibility
Owners with Service or Support Animals on campus have the responsibility to ensure that the animal acts appropriately at all times while in public. Owners must follow all established College policies (including the Code of Conduct) and adhere to the expected standards of behavior as other members of the College community. Owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of their Service or Support Animal.

The Owner must register the Service Animal (if residing in housing) and Support Animal living in housing with the Assistant Director of Housing/Student Conduct and the Disability Specialist prior to moving into campus housing each year, or when changing rooms during the year.

B. Responsibilities of Handlers Using Service & Support Animals in Housing
The Service or Support Animal must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the dominion and control of the owner at all times. No owner shall permit the animal to go loose or run at large. If an animal is found running at large, the animal is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from College housing.

  • 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.
  • Students with roommates: All roommates of the handler must sign an agreement acknowledging that the approved animal will be in residence with them. In the event that one or more roommates later do not approve, either the handler and animal or the non-approving roommates, as determined by Residence Life, may be moved to a different location. The College reserves the right to assign new incoming students (freshman/transfer) with a Service or Support Animal to a single. Following the first year, students can select a roommate with the understanding and consent of the procedures outlined in the policy for Service/Support Animals.
  • 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 to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief or when transported outside the private residential area en route off-campus in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness.
  • Support Animals are not allowed in any College facilities other than the College housing to which the resident is assigned. A Service Animal may travel with the handler throughout the campus, except in prohibited areas which are outlined in this policy.
  • 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.
  • Should the approved animal need to be replaced, the student must notify Residence Life and Disability Services, and must seek approval in accordance with this policy.

C. Damages
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.

V. 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.

VI. 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. In addition, The College may require the owner to remove the Service or Support Animal from College housing if:

  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or causes substantial property damage to the property of others, including College property.
  • The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a College program.
  • The owner does not comply with the owner’s responsibilities set forth above.
  • The animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the College community.
  • The College will base such individualized determinations upon the consideration of the behavior of the particular animal and resident on a case-by-case basis, and in consultation with Residence Life, the resident, and other parties as appropriate. The College will not base this determination on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. Any removal of the animal may be appealed pursuant to the grievance procedure found here.

Should the Service or Support Animal be removed from the College housing for any reason, the owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

VII. 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, and only if such prior disclosure is consented to by the owner of the Service Animal. 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).

VIII. 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.

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