Frequently Asked Questions: Students with Service Animals
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- whether the animal is required because of a disability; and
- what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.
Requesting a demonstration of that work or task is not permitted. Even these two inquires, however, may be inappropriate when it is obvious that the animal is trained to work for a person with a disability (e.g., when the dog is guiding a person who is blind or pulling a person’s wheelchair).
Note: Pennsylvania state law may confer additional rights.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) is the State’s anti-discrimination law. The PHRA uses some terms for animals that assist people with disabilities that are not mentioned in the ADA. This has the potential to lead to uncertainty about whether an animal is to be afforded legal protection. If a member of the public seeks to enter a Salus clinical facility and asserts a right under the PHRA, please treat the individual with respect and ask them to wait in the lobby area. Then contact OAS for further instructions.
Service dogs in training may be accompanied by individuals with or without disabilities. Such animals may or may not be wearing badges or other devices making their role clear. The ADA does not require public accommodations like Salus to allow persons who do not have disabilities to take service animals-in-training into their buildings or facilities. The PHRA, however, expressly protects the rights of handlers or trainers of service animals to take the animals into public accommodations, such as Salus University facilities.
Students with disabilities may be accompanied by their service animals at a Salus University clinical facility in all places that the public or participants in services, programs or activities are allowed to go. This includes clinical suites, consulting rooms, and similar spaces related to clinical education and service delivery.
The University may prohibit the use of a service dog in certain locations due to health or safety restrictions, such as where a service dog may be in danger, or where the dog’s presence may compromise the integrity of certain research. Restricted locations include, but are not limited to, food preparation areas, certain research laboratories, mechanical rooms/custodial closets, classrooms with demonstration/research animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary and other areas where the dog’s presence may, in the University’s opinion, constitute a danger.
When it is known that a student with a service animal will be providing clinical services to members of the public, it is appropriate for a Salus University clinical facility staff to enact procedures designed to minimize possible conflicts. For example, at times when a service dog is present, it is advisable to screen patients for dog allergies and other sensitivities before assigning them to a specific student clinician. If a patient objects to the presence of a service dog prior to or at the outset of patient care, the student clinician should be given the option of crating the animal in another location for the duration of the clinical experience. Alternatively, the patient should be seen by a different student clinician and the student with the service animal should be provided with assignment to a different patient.
All reasonable measures should be taken to ensure that neither a student’s disability nor their use of an approved service animal should be allowed to diminish their clinical education opportunities.
Individuals with disabilities are responsible for the control of their service animals at all times and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including leash laws. A service animal shall be restrained with a harness, leash, or other tether, unless an individual’s disability precludes the use of a restraint or if the restraint would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks. If a service animal is not tethered, it must be otherwise under the individual’s control, whether by voice control, signals, or other effective means.
A student with a service animal may provide an appropriate crate or similar enclosure for the temporary housing of the service animal while at a Salus clinical facility. Crated service animals are considered “off duty” and may be placed in a safe location at the discretion of a Salus University clinical facility staff. The safe location need not provide immediate access to the animal by the student, but should provide reasonable access. A third party (student, faculty, staff) may volunteer to take temporary responsibility for a student’s service animal for short periods of time, for example while the student with a disability provides clinical care, but no student may be required to take responsibility or provide care for a service animal belonging to another.
A student with a service animal is responsible for ensuring that the animal is afforded appropriate access to fresh water and an opportunity to eliminate bodily waste products in a timely manner and in areas designated by the university. The student is responsible for the immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste.
It is generally not a safe practice to approach any dog without seeking the owner’s permission. Service dogs, when wearing their vest, harness, or other identifying equipment and badging, are working animals on duty. These dogs have a job to do that often requires careful attention to the environment and its handler’s commands. Therefore, the most appropriate response to the presence of a service animal is to not call attention to it. Some service dog handlers welcome conversation about their dog, while others do not. Some may find inquiries about the animal to be distracting, rude, or even a sign of disability discrimination. It is best to interact with the individual without focusing on their service animal. The best policy is to not pay undue attention to a working service animal or engage its handler with questions regarding breed, training, name, etc., unless the handler introduces the topic or openly welcomes questions or conversation about their animal. If you have a specific question about how to interact with the individual or if they seem to be having difficulty with their service animal, simply ask politely and with good cheer if you can be of assistance. Then accept the response, even if you are rebuffed, with the same good cheer.
Multiple Service Animals
Multiple service animals: Generally, service animals can be expected to be well behaved, even in the presence of other animals, including other service dogs. However, on occasion, conflicts can arise. If this occurs, the university’s primary concern is for the safety of the public, students, staff, and faculty. Whenever possible, a patient’s use of a service dog should be given priority over a student’s use of a service dog, as long as safety can be maintained. Generally, simply separating the dogs will be sufficient to end the interaction. If any dog, service animal or otherwise, becomes aggressive to the point of representing a danger to others, call the security officer on duty as soon as possible.