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Service Animal Policy and Procedures


It is the policy of Illinois State University to afford individuals with disabilities and/or medical/mental health conditions, who require the assistance of a service animal, with equal opportunity to access University property, courses, programs, and activities.

This policy complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) of 1990 as amended; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Fair Housing Act of 1968, and applicable state and local law regarding service animals.

If you are an employee requesting a service dog as an accommodation, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access at (309) 438-3383.

Service Animal Defined

For purposes of this policy, Illinois State University uses the definition outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for service animal , which includes any dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability and/or medical/mental health condition.  Service animals are working animals, not pets.  The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability and/or medical/mental health condition.  Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA or this policy.

In addition, the ADA’s revised regulations have a new, separate provision regarding miniature horses that meet specific requirements and have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. 

Where Service Animals Are Allowed

Generally, owners of service animals are permitted to be accompanied by their service animal in all areas of the University's facilities and programs where the owner is allowed to go. Such areas include public areas, public events, classrooms, and other areas where University programs or activities are held.

A service animal may be restricted from specific areas of the University when (1) it would fundamentally alter a program or (2) the University has legitimate safety concerns and/or consistent with other University policies, state, and/or federal laws/regulations. Examples of these areas include but are not limited to:

  • Food preparation areas;
  • Research facilities/grounds and laboratories;
  • Medically sensitive patient and clinic areas; and
  • Biologically sensitive or hazardous locations.

If a service animal is restricted from certain areas, Student Access and Accommodation Services (SAAS) assists in evaluating and providing reasonable accommodations for the student.

Assessing Service Animal Status

Permitted Inquiries

University personnel must permit service animal access to property, events and/or activities with its owner when it is readily apparent that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for its owner. Examples include (1) a dog guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, (2) pulling an individual's wheelchair, or (3) providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability.

If the need for the service animal is not apparent, University personnel may only ask the following of service animal owners:

  • Is the service animal required because of a disability and/or medical/mental health condition; and
  • What work or task has the animal been trained to perform.

If the owner states that the animal is required because of a disability and/or medical/mental health condition and that the animal has been trained to do work or a task for the owner, then the service animal must be admitted. If there is any doubt that an animal is a service animal, University personnel should admit the animal and then consult with the Student Access and Accommodation Services or the University ADA Coordinator regarding future access.

University personnel may not ask about the nature of the owner’s disability and/or medical/mental health condition or request medical documentation of disability and/or medical/mental health condition. Owners are not required to possess or provide any special registration, identification card, license, or other documentation that the animal is a service animal, or to demonstrate the animal's ability to perform work or tasks.

University Assistance

Service animal owners are not required to register their service animal with the University. However, Student Access and Accommodation Services does provide a voluntary registration process for interested service animal owners. Having a service animal on the voluntary registration could assist the University if any problems arise an owner needs assistance with or an emergency situation occurs and emergency personnel need to be notified of where the service animal might be located in the case of an emergency evacuation.

It is also recommended, but not required, that the service animal wear a specific identification tag, vest, or specific harness identifying them as a service animal.

Service Animal Owner's Responsibilities

Service animal owners are responsible for complying with the following:

  • Federal, State, County and/or city ordinances relating to animal owner responsibilities, including any required registrations and/or vaccinations;
  • Keeping the service animal under the owner’s direct control at all times, such as by a harness, leash, or other tether; however, if the use of a harness, leash, or other tether interferes with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, or if the owner's disability and/or medical/mental health condition prevents the use of such devices, then the service animal must be under the owner's control through voice control, signals, or other effective means;
  • Ensuring the service animal does not disturb or disrupt normal academic or administrative functions;
  • Immediately cleaning up after the service animal and properly disposing of the service animal's waste or other debris (University personnel are not required to provide care or food for a service animal);
  • Preventing the service animal from entering any pond, fountain, or stream located on University premises; and
  • Being responsible for damage or injury caused by the service animal.

Removal of Service Animals

University personnel may only ask service animal owners to remove their service animal from University premises or from the immediate area under the following circumstances:

  • If the service animal is not housebroken; or
  • If the service animal is not under the owner's direct control or the service animal is disturbing or disrupting the normal administrative, academic, or programmatic routine. However, the owner must 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; or
  • If the presence, behavior, or actions of the service animal constitutes an immediate risk or danger to people or property, the owner can be asked to immediately remove the animal and 911 (emergency assistance) may be contacted.

If asked to remove the service animal, the owner must be offered the opportunity to return to the University premises or the immediate area without the service animal and be provided with reasonable assistance at that time to participate in the University service or program.

Addressing Issues and/or Concerns

Illinois State University is committed to a prompt and effective resolution of any issues or concerns regarding service animals. If the Owner has a concern, the Owner should contact the Director of SAAS.

Concerned University personnel or students should contact SAAS in the following situations:

  • If any questions or concerns arise relating to service animals;
  • If you have an allergy or other medical condition that that makes spending time in the same room or facility with a service dog difficult or dangerous;
  • If any service animal is out of control, or an owner is mistreating his/her service animal