Service Animals Policy

Policy number18-01
Responsible officeOffice of the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion
Office of Business Services
Office of Institutional Equity
Office of Residence Life
ClassificationBoard of Trustees-delegated Policy
Category18. Student Affairs and Residence Life

Statement of policy

Western Michigan University recognizes the importance of Service Animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the broader category of Assistance Animals under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. WMU is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities. WMU is also committed to allowing Assistance Animals necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Housing. This Policy governs the presence of Service Animals on University Property.  A separate Policy governs Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Animals, and pets on University property.  This Policy applies to all campuses and all University-leased, licensed, owned, or -operated property.        

Summary of contents/major changes

Rescind 1972 Policy on Animals in University Buildings; rewrite Policy to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and Michigan law; delegate Policy to appropriate Vice Presidents.             

1. Purpose of Policy

Western Michigan University recognizes the importance of Service Animals as defined by the ADA and the broader category of Assistance Animals under the FHA, which provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. WMU is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities.  To that end, this Policy establishes requirements for the location, behavior, and treatment of animals on campus and explains the responsibilities of people who seek to bring Service Animals onto University property.  Other Assistance Animals, to include Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are outside the scope of this Policy.  They are addressed in more detail in the Animals on Campus Policy. 

2. Stakeholders Most Impacted by the Policy 

This Policy impacts the University community and others visiting University property including employees, students, University affiliates, visitors, contractors, and applicants for admission or employment with the University. This Policy primarily impacts individuals bringing a Service Animal on University property.

3. Key Definitions 

3.1 Assistance Animal: any animal that works, provides assistance, performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability; these include Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.

3.2 Controlled Space: any indoor area owned or controlled by the University; any outdoor area owned or controlled by the University on which it places limitations for use or access, such as practice fields, stadiums, tennis courts, etc.  For purposes of this Policy, areas open to the public such as streets, lawns, or sidewalks are not Controlled Spaces. 

3.3 Emotional Support Animal (ESA): an animal specifically designated by a qualified professional that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s diagnosed disability; also referred to as a Comfort Animal.  An ESA does not meet the definition of Service Animal.

3.4 Handler: the owner or person bringing an animal onto University property

3.5 Housing: any residential housing facility that is located on campus, owned, operated, licensed, leased, or under the control of the University, including apartments and residence halls

3.6 Major Bodily Functions: include, but are not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions

3.7 Major Life Activities: include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working

3.8 Person with a disability: a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or bodily functions; who has a record of such impairment; or who is regarded as having such impairment.

3.9 Pet: companion animal that is not an Assistance Animal

3.10 Public Spaces: indoor and outdoor areas that are open to the public. Classrooms, residence halls, and most employee workspaces are not public spaces.

3.11 Qualified Employee: someone with a disability who, with or without an accommodation can perform the essential functions of the position. 

3.12 Qualified Student: a student with a disability who, with or without an accommodation, meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in a University’s program or activity.

3.13 Qualified Individual: a Qualified Employee and/or Qualified Student

3.14 Reasonable Accommodation: modifications or adjustments to the tasks, environment or to the way things are usually done that enable individuals with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to participate in an academic program or a job

3.15 Service Animal: a dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not Service Animals

3.16 Service Animal in Training: dog or miniature horse that is being formally trained to assist persons with disabilities

4. Full Policy Details 

4.1. Sections 4.1 through 4.7 of the Animals on Campus Policy are adopted and incorporated into this Policy.

4.2. Service Animals

  • 4.2.1. The University welcomes the presence of Service Animals assisting Qualified Individuals in Public Spaces and Controlled Spaces consistent with the provisions of this policy and applicable law. A Service Animal is generally permitted in any Controlled Space where the Qualified Individual is permitted.
  • 4.2.2. The University may prohibit a Service Animal from being in a Controlled Space for safety and health reasons if the animal’s presence would compromise a sterile environment, or if the animal’s presence would otherwise fundamentally alter the nature of a University service, program, or activity.  Such places may include, but are not limited to, research laboratories, classrooms with demonstration or research animals, or medical areas.
  • 4.2.3. Department representative(s), in collaboration with the Office Institutional Equity (OIE) and/or Disability Services for Students (DSS), will review exceptions to these restrictions on a case-by-case basis. 
  • 4.2.4. If a Service Animal is asked to vacate the premises, the Handler may obtain goods or services without the animal present.

4.3.  Service Animals in Training

  • 4.3.1. Any Qualified Individual may train Service Animals in Controlled Spaces.
  • 4.3.2. An employee who wishes to train a Service Dog, but who is not a Qualified Employee, must first obtain written permission from the Vice President, or designee, in their reporting chain before bringing a Service Animal in Training into a Controlled Space.
  • 4.3.3. A student who wishes to train a Service Dog, but who is not a Qualified Student, must first obtain permission from the Vice President of Student Affairs, or their designee, before bringing a Service Animal in Training into a Controlled Space.
  • 4.3.4. An individual who is not a Qualified Individual may not bring a Service Horse in Training into any Controlled Space.

4.4.  Competing Disabilities

  • 4.4.1. An allergy to or fear of a Service Animal is not a sufficient reason to deny access to the Service Animal or the Handler.  
  • 4.4.2. If an employee has a phobia or a medical condition that prohibits them from contact with a Service Animal, that employee should contact the Office of Institutional Equity for accommodation consideration
  • 4.4.3. If a student has a phobia or medical condition that prohibits them from contact with a Service Animal when that animal is present in an academic setting or Housing, that student should contact DSS for accommodation consideration.

4.5.  Exceptions

  • 4.5.1. As part of the interactive process for requesting and granting accommodations, the University may make case-by-case exceptions to these rules based on well-documented need or other factors. 
  • 4.5.2. This Policy does not apply to animals being used in research settings.  For animals in research settings see ORI Policy 17.5.1.
  • 4.5.3. This Policy does not apply to certified animals accompanying WMU’s Department of Public Safety personnel or other law enforcement personnel.
  • 4.5.4. This Policy does not apply to animals that WMU staff, students, or faculty bring to campus or into campus buildings on a one-time basis for educational purposes.  These requests should be registered with the relevant building manager and the requestor's unit as appropriate.  Requestors must ensure that they or the presenter has appropriate insurance coverage. 

5.  Implementation/Communication

This policy will be communicated to the University community through the Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications, by incorporating it into the Policies website, and through other avenues the Responsible Enforcement Official deems appropriate.

Accountability

Potential consequences of non-compliance include:

5.1.  Immediate removal of the animal from the University;

5.2.  Conduct review through the Office of Student Conduct;

5.3.  Termination of Housing contract/lease; or

5.4.  Possible individual disciplinary procedures, up to and including expulsion or termination, for failure to follow applicable University policies and requirements.

6. Related Procedures and Guidelines 

6.1.  Disability Services for Students, Eligibility Process, available at wmich.edu/disabilityservices/eligibility-process

6.2.  Disability Services for Students, Assistance Animal Procedures, available at https://wmich.edu/disabilityservices/accessibility/housing

6.3.  Residence Life Policy Book, available at https://wmich.edu/housing/info/policies

6.4.  Office of Institutional Equity, available at https://wmich.edu/equity/disability

6.5.  Human Resources, Policies and Procedures Manual, Section 2, Equal Employment Opportunity, available at https://wmich.edu/hr/manual-eeo 

7. Additional Information 

Employees who were previously allowed to bring Service Animals in training to work, but who do not require the animal because of their own disability, will be allowed to continue working with the animal they are currently training. 

8. FAQS

8.1.  If I have allergies, may I object to someone else’s animal? 

  • Answer:  Maybe.  See Section 4.4.

8.2. May I bring my Service Animal to class, dining halls, and other campus activities?

  • Answer: Yes

8.3. May a Service Animal handler be asked to remove the animal from the premises if the animal is disruptive?

  • Answer: Yes.  See Section 4.2. 

8.4.  Do Service Animals have documentation certifying that they are Service Animals?

  • Answer:  No. Documentation, such as proof that a Service Animal is certified, trained or licensed is not required.

8.5. If I’m unsure why an individual has a Service Animal, what may I ask them?

  • Answer:  If the animal’s training and responsibilities are not readily apparent, you may make two inquiries to determine if it is a Service Animal: (1) Is the dog required because of disability; and (2) What work or task the dog has been trained to perform? You may not ask for a demonstration of the work or task the dog has been trained to perform. 

8.6  What should I do if I think I have been incorrectly denied access for my Service Animal?

History

Effective date of current versionDecember 1, 2019
Date first adoptedDecember 19, 1972
Proposed date of next reviewDecember 1, 2021

Authorization

Certified by

Vice President of Student Affairs 

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost 

Vice President of Business and Finance 

At the direction of

President, Western Michigan University