Service Animals and Assistance Animals (also referred to as Therapy/Emotional Support Animal) Policy
Black Hills State University
Black Hills State University is committed to reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities who require the assistance of Service Animals or assistance animals. However, the University is also mindful of the health and safety concerns of the campus community. Thus, the University must balance the need of the individual with the disability with the potential impact of animals on other campus patrons. The successful implementation of the policy requires the cooperation of all students, faculty, and staff.
“Disability” is defined as a physical or mental condition or impairment that is medically recognizable, diagnosable, and substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities. These limitations may include: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, and learning. A person is substantially limited in major life activities if the individual is unable to perform the activity, or is significantly restricted as to the manner in which he or she can perform that activity when compared to the average person.
A “service animal” is a dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. These tasks include but not limited to: guiding individuals with impaired vision; alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sound; providing minimal protection or rescue work; pulling a wheelchair; or fetching dropped items.
Assistance Animal (also referred to as Therapy/Emotional Support Animal):
An Assistance Animal is an animal selected to play an integral part of a person’s treatment process that demonstrates a good temperament and reliable, predictable behavior. An Assistance Animal is prescribed to an individual with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional. An Assistance Animal is not a Service Animal. Unlike a Service Animal, an Assistance Animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all the times. However, an Assistance Animal may be incorporated into a treatment process to assist in alleviating the symptoms of that individual’s disability. This treatment occurs within the person’s residence and therefore may be considered for access to university housing.
A pet is an animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. A pet is not considered a Service Animal or an Assistance Animal (therapy/emotional support animal), and therefore, it is not covered by this policy. Pets are not permitted within university buildings or Residence Halls.
- Responsibility of Persons with Service Animals or Assistance Animals
Housebroken: The animal must be housebroken and trained to control their needs until the handler signals the time and place for them to go.
Care and Supervision: Care and supervision of the animal is the sole responsibility of the individual who benefits from the animal’s use. The person is required to maintain control of the animal at all times. The person is also responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the animal’s waste and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in areas designated by the University.
Vaccination: The animal must be immunized against disease common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Records will be kept on file in the Office of Disability Services.
Health: The animal must be in good health. Animals to be housed in University housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. The University has authority to direct that the animal receive veterinary attention.
Licensing: The City of Spearfish requires all dogs to be licensed. Dogs must wear license tags at all times.
Training: Service Animals must be properly trained.
Leash: The animal must be on a leash, if appropriate for the animal, at all times.
Other Conditions: The University may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the animal depending on the nature and characteristics of the animal.
- Requirements for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the University Community
Members of the University community are required to abide by the following practices:
A. Allow a Service Animal to accompany its owner at all times and in all public places on campus, except where animals are specifically prohibited. See “Areas Off Limits to Service Animals” below.
B. Assistance Animals (Therapy/Emotional Support Animals) are considered an accommodation for a documented disability and will only be allowed in areas approved by the Office of Disability Services.
C. Do not touch or pet a Service Animal or Assistance Animal (Therapy/Emotional Support Animal) unless invited to do so.
D. Do not feed a Service Animal or Assistance Animal (Therapy/Emotional Support Animal).
E. Do not deliberately startle a Service Animal or Assistance Animal (Therapy/Emotional Support Animal).
F. Do not separate or attempt to separate an owner from his or her Service Animal or Assistance Animal (Therapy/Emotional Support Animal).
G. Do not inquire for details about a person’s disabilities. The nature of a person’s disability is a private matter.
- Removal of Service Animals or Assistance Animals
The owner of a Service Animal or Assistance Animal may be asked to remove the animal from University facilities if the owner or animal fails to comply with this policy. The following describes behaviors which may result in the removal of the animal:
Disruptive Behavior: An animal may be removed if its behavior is unruly or disruptive (e.g., barking, growling, running around, or displaying aggressive behavior). If such behavior persists, the owner may be prohibited from bringing the animal on campus until the owner takes significant and effective remedial steps to correct the animal’s behavioral problems.
Poor Health: Animals that are ill or in poor health must not be taken into public areas. An owner with an ill animal may be required to remove the animal from University property.
Un-cleanliness: Owners who fail to properly clean up and dispose of the animal’s waste may be required to remove the animal from University property. Owners of animals that are otherwise unclean or unkempt may be required to remove the animal from University property. An animal that becomes wet from walking in the rain or mud, but is otherwise clean, is considered a clean animal.
Owners of Service Animals or Assistance Animals are solely responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by their animals.
- Areas Off Limits to Service Animals
The University may prohibit the use of Service Animals in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions (e.g. where the animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research). Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, the following areas: custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, motor pools, and rooms with heavy machinery.
Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting the Office of Disability Services and the appropriate department representative. However, the person directing the restricted area has the final decision.
- Service Animals and Assistance Animals in University Housing
Service Animals are welcomed on campus and are able to accompany residents in all locations the public is allowed. Please note the Responsibilities and Policies related to animals in Residence Life. Assistance Animals may not reside in University housing without expressed approval of the Office of Disability Services and refer to separate policy: “Requesting an Assistance Animal for Residence Life.”
- Verification of Disability and Need for a Assistance Animal
A person desiring the approval of an assistance animal to use University facilities and services must provide verification to the Office of Disability Services that they have a qualifying disability and that the assistance animal is needed for the use and enjoyment of University facilities and services. The persons treating health care provider, who is familiar with the individual’s specific disability and the professional literature concerning the assistive and/or therapeutic benefits of assistance animals for people with disabilities will need to provide a letter. An acceptable letter will be on professional letterhead, signed by the treating professional (treating professional will have established, over-time, relationship with individual requesting accommodation) and express the following: (PLEASE NOTE: PROOF OF DISABILITY AND/OR NEED OF AN ASSISTANCE ANIMAL IS NOT VALID THROUGH ONLINE CERTIFICATION COMPANIES):
1. The treating provider’s diagnosis of the person’s condition. Treating provider will have an established, over-time, relationship and knowledge of the individual's disability.
2. The treating provider’s opinion that the condition qualifies as a disability under federal law, including the major life activity, which is substantially limited by the disability.
3. The treating provider’s professional opinion that the assistance animal is used to help with the person’s daily living activities and is necessary to use and enjoy University facilities and services.
4. The treating provider’s description of what service(s) or benefit the animal will specifically provide.
5. Any additional rationale or statement the University may reasonably need to understand the basis for the professional opinion.
6. This verification letter must be on official letterhead with identifying information and signed by the treating professional.
NOTE: All exotic and wild animals are excluded from living on-campus.
a. How exotic pets are usually identified
i. The animal exists in, or is close to its current state in the wild
ii. Prone to "wild" or unpredictable behaviors
iii. Is uncommon or "alternative"
iv. Is considered potentially dangerous
The Office of Disability Services will make a reasonable effort to accommodate conflicting disabilities within classrooms and/or within buildings on-campus where an assistance animal will be located. Students, Faculty/Staff with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (respiratory diseases, asthma, and severe allergies) should contact the Office of Disability Services if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a Service Animal or Assistance Animal. The individual will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s), and will allow determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation.
The Disability Services will resolve any conflict in a timely manner, considering the conflicting needs and/or accommodations of all persons involved. The Disability Services may use the Student Health Services as a resource for information on health issues. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached, the Disability Services decision is final and not subject to appeal.
Questions or concerns related to this policy should be addressed to the Coordinator of Disability Services:
Jennifer Lucero, M.S.Ed.
Coordinator of Disability Services and Testing Center
1200 University St. Unit 9078
Lower Level of the E.Y. Berry Library - Learning Center
Spearfish, SD 57799-9078
Phone: (605) 642-6099