The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. An animal that is used to provide an emotionally supportive therapeutic service for a student does not meet the definition of a service animal.
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Staff cannot ask about the person's disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate it's ability to perform the work or task.
Although emotional support and comfort animals are not considered service animals under the ADA, they may be considered as a necessary accommodation under Section 504. A Madison College student with a disability who wants to use a non-service animal on campus may request an accommodation via an interactive process with Disability Resource Services to determine what is appropriate and necessary. On a case-by-case basis, Madison College will engage with students via an interactive process to assess an individual’s need for the emotional support/comfort animal.