What is a Service Animal?

Service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of daily living. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as “An animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.”

An animal is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified by a state/local government or training program.

Service animals are permitted in all university facilities. There may be exceptions in certain areas.

What can service animals do? Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Serve as a travel tool or guide for a person who is blind.
  • Alert a person who is deaf or hard of hearing when a sound occurs.
  • Carry, fetch, open doors, ring doorbells and activate elevator buttons for a person who has mobility impairment or a health-related disability.
  • Stand guard over, bring help to or alert a person with a seizure disorder that a seizure is about to take place.
  • Alert persons with autism to sensory output that may be distracting or harmful to them.

What is a pet?

A pet is a domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. Pets are generally not permitted in university facilities unless an instructor or other university official has given permission for the pet to be there for a limited period of time and for a specific educational activity.

Service Animal Etiquette

  • Do not pet or touch a service animal. Petting a service animal when it is working distracts the animal from the task at hand.
  • Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
  • Do not feed a service animal. The animal may have specific dietary requirements. Unusual food or food at unexpected times may cause the animal to become ill.
  • Avoid initiating conversations about the student’s disability or the service animal. All disabilities are not visible. Be aware that some people do not like to discuss their disability.
  • A person with a disability who uses a service animal is called a partner/owner.

Service Animal Care

Partners/owners (persons using a service animal at SU) are required to adhere to the following:

  • All animals need to be immunized against rabies and/or other diseases common to that type of animal. All vaccinations must be current.
  • Animals must wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  • Virginia law requires that all dogs be licensed.
  • Service animals must wear an owner identification tag (which includes the name and phone number of the owner) at all times.
  • Animals need to be maintained on a leash, harness or other type of restraint in university buildings and public areas. However, exceptions are granted in an emergency situation, when the animal is in the partner’s/owner’s private residence, when the animal needs to perform a task requiring it to travel beyond the length of the restraint or when the partner/owner is unable to retain an animal on a leash due to a disability.
  • The partner/owner must be in full control of the animal at all times. The care and supervision of the service animal is solely the responsibility of the partner/owner.
  • The partner/owner is responsible for independently removing or arranging for the removal of the service animal’s waste at least once a week, placing the waste in a closed container and then disposing of the container in an outdoor trash bin.
  • Partners/owners who live in university housing with their service animals may need to designate an individual to assist with clean up.
  • Partners/owners need to make sure that their animals are kept as clean as possible so as not to interfere with the educational environment. Regular bathing and grooming may be necessary for flea and tick control.

Removal of a Service Animal

If a service animal is unruly or disruptive enough to interfere with the educational environment, the partner/owner may be asked to remove the animal from a university facility. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, university officials may request that the partner/owner refrain from bringing the service animal into any university facility or common area until significant steps have been taken to mitigate the behavior.

Additional Information

For additional information or to self-identify as a student with a disability or to request academic adjustment or modification of these guidelines, please contact:

Disability Services
Howe 106
Shenandoah University
1460 University Drive
Winchester, VA 22601
Phone: (540) 665-4928
E-mail: dwyne@su.edu