4.23 - Service Animals

Last updated on April 4, 2023

POLICY:  It is the policy of Spoon River College (the “College”) to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Illinois law in regard to the use of service animals for both short-term and long-term students and visitors.

SCOPE: This policy applies to the College’s students and visitors.


Service Animals:  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals 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."  Service animals are animals trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living.

  1. The service animal is required because of a disability and the service animal has been trained to do specific work or tasks related to the disability.
  2. As of March 15, 2011, only dogs and miniature horses are recognized as service animals under Titles II and III of the ADA .

Non-Service Animals:  The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicates that the following animals are not considered service animals under the ADA and ADAAA:

  1. Animals that serve solely to provide a crime deterrent effect.
  2. Emotional support, comfort or companionship animals.

Comfort animals: Comfort animals are not covered by the ADA. They fall under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations.

Pets:  Pets are not allowed in any campus buildings under the College’s policy.


  1. Service Animals on Campus:
    1. Students using a service animal on campus are encouraged to voluntarily contact the Disability Support Services Office to register their dog and discuss any accommodations appropriate to the functional limitations of their disability. This voluntary process may be helpful in the event that a problem arises that the handler needs assistance with or in an emergency situation including, but not limited to emergency evacuations. The student is under no obligation to register their dog with the Disability Support Services Office.
    2. Faculty or staff using a service animal on campus should first contact the Office of Human Resources to request a reasonable accommodation. The process for requesting a service animal as a reasonable accommodation will be similar to any other request for an accommodation. See Discrimination and Harassment policy on page 3.
    3. Although, the College may modify its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability in any area available to the general public, modifications need not be made if: (1) the modifications would fundamentally alter the services, facilities, etc. provided by the College; (2) the modification results in a direct threat to the health or safety of others; or (3) modifications would cause undue financial or administrative burden to the College.
  2. Responsibilities of the Handler/Partner:
    1. The service animal must be under the control of its handler. Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s effective performance of work or tasks or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the handler must maintain control of the service animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
    2. While it is not required, it is suggested that service animals wear a vest to be easily identified so that staff, students and visitors understand the animal is working and is not to be disturbed.
    3. The handler is financially responsible for the actions of the service animal. These actions include bodily injury and/or property damage and handlers must take appropriate precautions to prevent injury and/or property damage. Any damage to College property caused by the service animal, above and beyond normal maintenance cleaning, will be charged to the handler’s student account.
    4. At all times, the cost of care and maintenance of health and well-being of the service animal are the sole responsibility of the handler.
    5. Service animals must meet all local, county, and state requirements regarding vaccinations and proper licensure.
    6. The handler should ensure that the service animal does not disturb or disrupt normal academic or administrative functions.
    7. Out of courtesy to others, as much as possible, the handler should ensure that the service animal does not approach and sniff other individuals, dining tables, or the personal belongings of others. It is the handler’s responsibility to assure that the service animal does not display behaviors or noises that are deemed disruptive to others, unless said noise/behaviors are part of the needed disability service to the handler.
    8. The handler must assure that the service animal does not block identified fire/emergency exits.
    9. Waste cleanup is the sole responsibility of the handler. If the handler is not physically capable of cleaning up after the service animal, the handler must provide or hire someone who is physically capable and incur the cost of such hire if necessary. Service animal waste cleanup should include appropriate waste clean-up equipment and proper disposal of waste in an appropriate container such as an outside receptacle (i.e. dumpsters, trash receptacles).
  3. Responsibilities of the Office of Disability Services:
    1. The Office of Disability Services may only ask: (1) if the service animal is required due to a disability and (2) what task or work the animal has been trained to perform, if it is not readily apparent that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Thus, if it is readily apparent that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, the Office of Disability Services or any other representative of the College cannot ask either of those two questions.
    2. Collect and keep on file evidence of State, county, or local dog licensing and current health certificates/vaccinations.
    3. Notify appropriate personnel/campus offices of the animal and handler/partner.
    4. Provide guidelines to the campus for appropriate interaction with the animal.
  4. Responsibilities for Others in the Spoon River College Community - Faculty, Staff, Students, and Visitors:
    1. Allow a service animal to accompany the handler/partner at all times and everywhere on campus.
    2. Do not pet a service animal; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from required tasks.
    3. Do not feed a service animal. The service animal may have specific dietary requirements. Unusual food or food at an unexpected time may cause the animal to become ill.
    4. Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
    5. Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from his or her service animal.
    6. College personnel may not ask about the reason for the service animal; the nature of the owner’s disability and/or medical/mental health condition; request medical documentation of disability and/or medical/mental health condition; or ask that the service animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task . The only inquiries that can be made with respect to the service animal are limited to those inquiries provided for in Section 3(a) above.
  5. Circumstances which may require the removal of a service animal from Spoon River College property:
    1. The service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it. If improper animal behavior happens repeatedly, the handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal into any college facility until the handler can demonstrate that she or he has taken significant steps to mitigate the behavior.  The handler will first be given an opportunity to get the animal under control. If the disruption or disturbance continues, then the owner may be asked to remove the animal.
    2. The service animal is not housebroken. It is the handler’s sole responsibility to ensure that the animal is taken outside to relieve itself and to dispose of waste material appropriately.
    3. The service animal is a direct threat. A handler may be directed to remove an animal the College determines to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of individuals, that cannot be decreased or terminated by altering policies or procedures, or by providing supplementary aid or resources. This decision to remove the service animal based on a direct threat will be made on an individualized evaluation of the situation.
    4. If the service animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the College’s goods, services, programs, or activities provided to the public.
    5. However, if a service animal is properly removed for reasons provided for in 5(a) – 5(b), then the individual needing the service animal must be permitted to obtain goods, services or accommodations without the service animal.