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Your Guide To Animals On Campus

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The Story 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 30% of full-time and 8% of part-time undergraduate students reported having a disability. Twenty-one percent of veteran students reported having a disability (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). It is anticipated that the number of veteran students with disabilities will increase, as the Department of Defense reports nearly 213,000 military personnel will have suffered traumatic brain injuries in the Middle East since 2000. The Rand Corporation has estimated 300,000 veterans from Middle Eastern conflicts suffer from PTSD or major depression.

In order to navigate the expectations of higher education, some students may require a service dog, emotional support animal or therapy animal to accompany them to campus. College students with disabilities are protected by state, federal, and local laws which prohibit discrimination and mandate access to appropriate services and resources.

Oh no! A cobra in the classroom?
Don’t panic! While we have viewed peacocks and snakes attempting to board commercial jets, our priority remains a safe and manageable learning environment. Service animals must be trained, housebroken and under the control of the handler. Disruptive animals can be required to leave the classroom. In the event a service dog becomes disruptive, faculty members should be coached to offer the student the opportunity to continue without the service animal. Likewise, if an emotional service animal disrupts the living environment with noise or poor hygiene habits, appropriate action can be taken. Finally, before visiting campus, therapy dogs owners can be required to provide documentation of successful completion of the Good Canine Citizen certification and advanced obedience.

Sniffles and Sneezes….
Help I have a student who is allergic to dogs in this class Student allergies or fear of dogs cannot be used as a reason to deny access to anyone using a service animal. When another student or staff member reports a dog dander allergy and a person who uses a service animal are scheduled for the same section, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or making a schedule change for one of the students.

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Author: Geri Anderson
May 22, 2019

Comments 4
  • Geri Anderson
    Geri Anderson

    There is no question that allergies to dog dander is a very real and potential life-threatening situation. Working out how best to balance this is not an easy job, but it must be done. The reality is if the allergy is disabling, it must be accommodated but the person needing a service animal must also be accommodated.

    If a fellow student or faculty/staff states a health problem with the service dog, medical documentation regarding the problem may be required for the ADA/504 Compliance Office to mediate a solution. Additional discussion with the student such as does the animal need to be with them at all times or can they attend one class without the animal is acceptable.. If the institution has multiple instructors teaching the same course, a course adjustment for either the student or faculty seems like a reasonable solution.
  • Geri Anderson
    Geri Anderson

    There is no question that allergies to dog dander is a very real and potential life-threatening situation. Working out how best to balance this is not an easy job, but it must be done. The reality is if the allergy is disabling, it must be accommodated but the person needing a service animal must also be accommodated.

    If a fellow student or faculty/staff states a health problem with the service dog, medical documentation regarding the problem may be required for the ADA/504 Compliance Office to mediate a solution. Additional discussion with the student such as does the animal need to be with them at all times or can they attend one class without the animal is acceptable.. If the institution has multiple instructors teaching the same course, a course adjustment for either the student or faculty seems like a reasonable solution.
  • Gary Mejia
    Gary Mejia

    Geri, thank you for this very informative article, I will be passing this on to my Campus Safety staff.

  • Dan Ferguson
    Dan Ferguson

    I am a professor with severe asthma caused by allergies, and one of my strongest allergies is dogs. Do I have rights, too?

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