According to the amended ADA, the definition of a service animal is “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.” The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Dogs whose sole function is “the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship” are not considered service dogs under the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition.
Requirements of Service Animals and Their Handlers
1. Identification: It is strongly suggested that the dog should wear a harness, identification vest, or other gear that identifies it as a working animal while it is working on a Vernon College campus.
2. Control: The service animal must be under the full control of the handler at all times and must be on a leash or harness unless the use of a leash or harness would interfere with the service animal’s ability to do its job. The animal should not be aggressive or disruptive.
3. Health: Service animals must comply with all local ordinances and regulations, including vaccinations against rabies. Service animals should wear a rabies tag with current dates. If a dog has no rabies tag, the handler may be asked to show proof of current rabies vaccination before the animal is allowed in any Vernon College location.
4. Cleanliness: Service animals are expected to be clean and well-groomed. The handler is responsible for cleaning up after the animal, including proper disposal of any waste.
Faculty, Staff, and Student Policies Concerning Service Animals
When there are qualified service animals at Vernon College locations, the following policies should be observed:
1. Allow a service animal to accompany its handler at all places in that college location except where service animals are specifically prohibited due to health, environment, or safety hazards.
2. Refrain from petting, feeding, or deliberately distracting a service animal.
3. Do not inquire about the handler’s disability; that is private and confidential information.
4. Immediately report any disruptive or aggressive behavior of a service animal to Student Services.
Questions? Call the Office for Students with Disabilities at (940) 552-6291, ext. 2308, or email