Service Animals


This document describes the procedures for the use of service animals by students and employees on the St. Thomas Aquinas College campus.  St. Thomas Aquinas College complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in allowing use of service animals for students, staff, and visitors. 


Service Animal:
A service animal as per the ADA is defined 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”. 


For an individual qualifying to have a service animal on campus:

  • The student must have a disability as defined by the ADA.
  • The animal must be trained to perform specific tasks or work for the qualified individual.
  • The tasks performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.
  • Students must register with Disability Services, if the service animal will be housed on campus so that housing accommodations can be coordinated.
  • The student must contact Disability Services as early as possible to allow time to gather and review all required documentation. 



  • Is responsible for attending to and being in full control of the service animal at all times.  A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether unless a) the owner is unable, because of a disability, to use a harness, leash, or tether, or b) using a harness, leash, or tether will interfere with the animal’s ability to safely and effectively perform its work, in which case the animal must be under the handler’s control (e.g. voice control, signals, or other commands).
  • Is responsible for ensuring that the service animal is wearing a leash or harness that identifies the animal as a service animal when on duty anywhere on campus.
  • Is responsible for ensuring that the service animal is fully trained to perform the work or task required.
  • Is responsible for the costs of care necessary for the service animal’s well-being.  The arrangements and responsibilities with the care of a service animal is the sole responsibility of the owner at all times, including regular bathing and grooming.
  • Is responsible for independently removing or arranging for the removal of the service animal’s waste.  Waste must be disposed of in a sealed bag in the designated trash receptacle as determined by the Housing Office.
  • Is responsible for complying with local and state licensing laws for animal rights and owner responsibilities. Service animals should be current with immunizations and wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  • Is responsible for paying for any damage to College property caused by the animal.
  • Anytime the owner leaves campus overnight and/or during College breaks, the animal must leave, as well.

College Community:

The proper way to determine that an animal is a service animal is to ask the owner if the animal is required because of a disability.  If the animal is required due to a disability, only two questions can be asked:

  • Is the service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task is the animal trained to perform?

The College community:

  • Must allow service animals to accompany their owners at all times and everywhere on campus where the general public or other students are allowed, except for places where there is a health, environmental, or safety hazard.
  • Must not ask questions about the individual’s disability.
  • Should not pet or feed a service animal.
  • Should not tease a service animal or attempt to separate it from its owner.
  • Must not charge a fee for the service animal to reside in a residence hall, but may charge fees for damages incurred by the service animal.
  • Should report service animals who misbehave or owners (or other individuals) who mistreat their service animals to Campus Safety.

An individual with a disability cannot be asked to remove their service animal from the campus unless:

  • The animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it.
  • The animal is not housebroken.
  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
  • The animal’s presence creates a fundamental alteration of the college’s programs, as defined by the ADA.
  • Any other qualifying reason under the ADA.

St. Thomas Aquinas College:

The College may prohibit the use of service animals in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions or places where the animal might be in danger.  Restricted areas may include but are not limited to food preparation areas, research laboratories, boiler rooms, and other areas prohibited by law. 

Disability Services:

  • Assists owners and the College community when questions or concerns arise relating to Service animals on campus, seeking legal advice when necessary.
  • Is responsible for developing the procedures for the College and facilitating the use of Service animals by individuals on campus. 

Students who intend to bring a service animal to campus should contact Disability Services as soon as possible. Disability Services is located in Spellman Hall, Room 109.