SERVICE ANIMALS (Effective February 1, 2020 pending Board of Trustee approval)
The College strives to ensure equal access to all aspects of the St. Mary’s experience for all members of the St. Mary’s College community, including those on campus accompanied by a Service Animal. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is the College’s policy that individuals with a disability that require the assistance of a Service Animal may be accompanied by a Service Animal anywhere on the St. Mary’s campus. The sole exception to this policy is situations where the College determines that the presence of a service animal would “fundamentally alter” the program, service, or activity taking place on campus. In those situations, however, the College will make all reasonable efforts to provide the affected individual with an alternative means of experiencing the program, service, or activity.
The College urges all students, employees, and visitors to be familiar with this policy, and to respect the rights of individuals with Service Animals to move freely about the campus without disruption to the individuals or their Service Animals.
Any individual accompanied by a Service Animal who believes they have been denied access to a program, service, or activity because of their disability and/or Service Animal may report a concern or complaint to the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) or Human Resources (HR). Students, employees, and visitors with concerns about the presence and/or behavior of a Service Animal on campus, may also contact OAS (students or visitors) or HR (employees) for assistance.
Offices Affected By This Policy
Office of Accessibility Services
Who Should Know About This Policy
Students, employees, and visitors to the SMCM campus
- Handler: The individual with a disability who uses a Service Animal
- Service Animal: The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a Service Animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities; in some situations, a miniature horse may also be a service animal (see following definition). Service animals do not need to wear any type of identifier such as a vest or tag. Service animals are working animals, not pets; the work they perform must be directly related to the individual’s disability, this includes a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. A Service Animal is an extension of the handler. Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Animals, and Pets are distinctly different from a Service Animal. Those animals are not addressed under this policy.
Section I. Students and Visitors
Students and visitors who have a disability requiring the assistance of a service animal may be accompanied anywhere on campus with their service animal except in spaces where the presence of a service animal would fundamentally alter the activity or program is being held in that area.
- Fundamental Alteration of a program or activity. Mary’s College may exclude a Service Animal from a particular location if the Service Animal’s presence would fundamentally alter the program or activity being held in that space. For example, there are certain labs where Service Animals cannot be admitted because the presence of a Service Animal may alter experiments that are being held in the labs or that the safety precautions for the service animal in the lab do not limit the likelihood of contamination outside of the lab setting. In such situations, the college will collaborate with the handler to attempt to identify reasonable alternative ways or means to participate in the program or activity.
- Documentation, Identification, and Permitted Inquiries. A student with a disability who has a Service Animal is not required to provide documentation in regards to their disability or to establish their need for a Service Animal; this means that they do not need to register their Service Animal with the Office of Accessibility Services if they have a Service Animal. Handlers do not need to prove their Service Animal has been individually trained. Service Animals are also not required to wear badges, vest, capes, or other identifiers.
When it is not obvious that an animal is a Service Animal, only two questions may be asked of the handler: i) is the animal required because of a disability, and ii) what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? College personnel are not allowed to request any documentation that relates to the dog’s abilities, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.
- Residential considerations for students with a Service Animal: If a student with a Service Animal wishes to live on campus, they are encouraged to work with the Office of Residence Life to ensure that their living situation is workable/accessible for the presence of their Service Animal; this includes roommate considerations. Service Animal Handlers may be asked to provide documentation related to the general licensing and vaccination requirements of animals in Maryland/St. Mary’s County as part of this conversation with Residence Life.
Section II. Employees
If an employee wishes to be accompanied by their service animal at work, an accommodation request can be made to the Office of Human Resources.
Conflicting Disabilities or Disabling Health Conditions
Students who have health conditions such as asthma, allergies, phobias, or a disability that is adversely affected by the proximity of a Service Animal should contact the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS). If the individual raising the concern is a student, they may be asked to provide documentation and have an interactive meeting with OAS to determine if the needs of this student can be mitigated by accommodations or if an alternate solution may be presented. Employees who have concerns about a Service Animal in their work environment should contact the Office of Human Resources.
Service Animal handlers must be in control of the Service Animal at all times, ensuring that the animal displays appropriate, non-disruptive behavior. Service Animals must be leashed or tethered at all times, unless the Service Animal is off duty and engaged in play or exercise, or doing so directly affects the work or task for which the Service Animal is trained. In those cases, the handler must be in control in other ways such as through voice or signaling.
The handler of the animal must ensure proper care of their Service Animal. This includes, but is not limited to: feeding, bathing, walking, and cleaning up after the Service Animal. Handlers are responsible for damages or harm caused by the Service Animal. The Service Animal must follow local law/health codes provided for that specific type of animal. Service Animals do not have the right to violate health codes. For example: a Service Animal should not be admitted into a pool. However, the Service Animal should be allowed on the deck of a pool if the handler is in the water.
Exclusion and Removal
As mentioned above, a Service Animal may be excluded from a space if the presence of the Service Animal fundamentally alters that environment. For example, where a Service Animal’s presence compromises the experiments within a lab space, the Service Animal may not be permitted in the lab while the College works to find an alternative means for the handler to achieve the same lab experience. The College may remove a Service Animal if the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The College may remove the Service Animal if the animal is not house broken, or is aggressive or disruptive. The Service Animal may also be removed if the handler refuses to fulfill the responsibilities listed above or if there is proof of animal harm/neglect. Where the College concludes that a Service Animal must be removed from a certain situation, setting, or the campus as a whole, the Handler may request reconsideration of that decision as outlined in “Complaints and Dispute Resolution” section below.
Intentionally and/or maliciously disrupting or distracting a Service Animal, intentionally separating a Service Animal from its handler, petting, feeding, purposefully startling a Service Animal after being directed not to do so is considered misconduct and may be subject to disciplinary action.
Complaints and Dispute Resolution
Students, employees and visitors can contact the Office of Accessibility Services to request assistance in resolving disputes and complaints involving a Service Animal, including, but not limited to: discrimination stemming from or involving a Service Animal, as well as reconsideration of denial/ removal of a Service Animal. OAS will work with the individual to ensure that the matter is assessed by the appropriate College official, either through an informal process or formal investigation.
Office of Accessibility Services: provides support to students in regards to Service Animals on campus; will work with students with service to find reasonable alternatives and accommodations in the event their Service Animal cannot be admitted to a particular learning space
Human Resources: works with employees of the College with regards to the presence of a service animal at the workplace
Residence Life: works to support accessible and safe living situations for student handlers of Service Animals and for the students who may come into contact with Service Animal through life on campus
- Office of Accessibility Services: Phone: 240-895-4388; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Residence Life: Phone: 240-895-4207
- Human Resources: Phone: 240-895-4309
 Miniature horses can also be considered service animals on a case by case basis. There are four factors that must be assessed in order to determine if a miniature can be accommodated in a facility: 1. Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; 2. Whether the miniature horse is under the handler’s control; 3. Whether the College can accommodate the type, size, and weight of the miniature horse; and 4. Whether the presence of the miniature horse compromise the safe operation of the applicable College facility.