Disability Services at UMass Amherst

Service Dog /Animal Policy

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst is committed to providing appropriate access to all members of the University community. In this case the University wants ensure access for those people with disabilities who use services dogs/animals. Service dogs/animals regulations are separate from the policies governed for reasonable accommodation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. In accordance the ADA amendment of March 15, 2011 and the Fair Housing act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the definitions of service dog/animals are as follows. This policy is written in order to create a welcoming community for all members.

Definitions of Service Animal allowed in Academic and Administrative Buildings
For housing rules see page
Service Animal: A service animal is defined as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a medical, physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other developmental disability.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the partner’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition. (ADA, March 15, 2011) (Current law also includes miniature horses)

In Training: Under Massachusetts General Law a dog or puppy being trained has the same rights as a fully trained dog when accompanied by a trainer and is identified as such.

Team: A team is the person with a disability which is called partner, and their service dog/animal. The two work as an interdependent team in accomplishing the tasks of everyday living.

Types of Service Dogs

Some Examples of one or more Tasks Service Dogs/Animals Perform
Assistance Dog: is a dog that has been trained to assist people who have mobility, psychiatric, neurological, or health impairment. Types of duties the dog may perform include carrying, fetching, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, helping a person up after the persons falls, etc. or preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

Guide Dog: Assist partner with who is legally blind to navigate streets, public places and their homes. They navigate sidewalks, avoid traffic and watching out for anything that may cause their partner to trip or bump their head.

Hearing/Signal Dog: Alert partner who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing of any noises that may pertain to their everyday life. The dogs are able to recognize the phone, doorbell, knocking, smoke alarms, crying babies or any other noise that a partner should be aware of.

Mobility Alert Dog: Assist their partner in tasks they may not be able to physically perform themselves, such as retrieving items, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, pushing buttons such as for an elevator, getting mail or pulling wheelchair (these are a few examples). These dogs are assigned to partners with different types of mobility impairments. Other tasks the dogs may perform could be to help the person with a disability to walk, balance or move from one place to another, such as from a wheelchair to a standard chair.

Animals that are not Trained to Perform Specific Task for the Partner who is Disabled do not Qualify as a Service Dog/Animal
A Pet: any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately. A pet is not considered a service animal because it does not perform a task to assist with an individual’s daily living and therefore, it is not covered by this policy.

Companion Dog: In recent years, these dogs have been recommended as an accommodation for some disabilities for dogs calming influence, affection, stability or even a feeling of security for the person with the disability. The dogs are not trained and therefore, not afforded the legal protection of service dog. In extreme conditions a person may have justifying reasons in the person’s documentation that would be necessary to permit a companion dog on campus.

See University Pet Policy

Responsibility of Dog Owners in Massachusetts
State Law Requires Licensing your dog is an important public safety requirement all owners or keepers of a dog six months or older are required by state law to license the dog annually.
In the Town of Amherst this license should be obtained by the first day of April. A license will be issued only if the owner has evidence of a rabies vaccination that is valid as of the date of issuance.

The fee for a dog license is $15 for a male or female dog, or $5 for a neutered or spayed dog.
Dog licenses can be purchased from the Central Service Counter at Town Hall during regular business hours.

Any owner or keeper of a dog who fails to license their dog by May 31st will be required by Town Bylaw to pay a late fee of $30.00 in addition to the license fee.

Vaccination: The dog must have a current rabies vaccination and all other required vaccination for the state of Massachusetts and wear a rabies vaccination tag.

Licensing: Dogs that are working on campus need to be licensed; any dog that resides at UMASS has to be licensed through the Town of Amherst. To license dogs a veterinarian's certificate showing the date of Rabies vaccination and expiration date, and information concerning neutering/spaying must be presented at the time of renewal or when receiving a new license. The Licensing fee for the Town of Amherst for a neutered/spayed dog is $5.00 and an unneutered/unspayed dog is $13.00. There is also a one-time $3.00 tag fee for all dogs. Licenses are good for one year, and a notice will be mailed out by the Town of Amherst when your dog's license is due for renewal. You can check this information at
http://www.amherst.ny.us/govt/clerk/clerk_detail.asp?dept_id=dept_20&div_id=div_37&menu_id=menu_30  or contact the Amherst Town Clerk's Office for more information.

Service Animals Policy University Housing
Under the Fair Housing Act Service Dogs and
Other Types of Animals are Permitted

Under the FHAct and Section 504 individuals with a disability may be entitled to keep assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing facilities that otherwise impose restrictions or prohibitions on animals.¬† In order to qualify for such an accommodation, the assistance animal must be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or to participate in the housing service or program. Further, there must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance animal provides. If these requirements are met, a housing facility, program or service must permit the assistance animal as an accommodation, unless it can demonstrate that allowing the assistance animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing program or service.
If an animal qualifies as a “service animal,” ADA-covered entities may not restrict access to a person with a disability on the basis of his or her use of that service animal unless the animal is out of control and its handler does not take effective action to control it or if the animal is not housebroken. The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go.

Under the fair housing act a service dog/animal is considered a reasonable accommodation and the person must register at Disability Service to qualify for reasonable accommodations.

Conflicting Disabilities
People with medical condition(s) that are affected by dogs (respiratory disease, asthma, severe allergies) should contact Disability Services if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a service animal. The individual will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s), and will allow determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation.

Guidelines for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the University Community.

Members of the University community are required to abide by the following practices:

Allow a service dog to accompany its owner at all times and in all places on campus except where dogs may pose a safety risk
Do not touch a service dog unless invited to do so.
Do not feed the service dog.
Do not deliberately startle a service dog.
Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner from their service dog.
Do not inquire for details about a person’s disabilities. The nature of a person’s disability is a private matter.
Do not hesitate to ask a person if they would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction to turn, an accessible entrance, entrance to an elevator, etc.
If questions arise as to whether a person should have a service dog on campus contact Disability Services at 5-0892

Areas Off Limits to Service Dogs

The University may prohibit the use of service dogs in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions (e.g. where the dog may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research).  Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, the following areas: boiler rooms, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, custodial closets, research laboratories areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, motor pools and rooms with heavy machinery.
Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting Disability Services and/or the appropriate department representative.

Emergency Situations

In the event of an emergency, the Emergency Response Team that responds should be trained to recognize service dogs and to be aware that the dog may be trying to communicate the need for help. The dog may become disoriented from the smell of smoke in a fire or laboratory emergency, from sirens or wind noise, or from shaking and moving ground. The partner and/or dog may be confused from the stressful situation the ERT should be aware that the dog is trying to be protective and, in its confusion, is not to be considered harmful. The ERT should make every effort to keep the dog with its partner. However, the ERT’s first effort should be toward the partner, this may necessitate leaving a dog behind in certain emergency evacuations situations.

Owners of service are solely responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by their dog.
If a person feels they have been denied access with a service animal they should report the problem to Disability Services so the grievance policy can be evoked.

See Disability Service web site at www.umass.disability.edu

September 4, 2012

Massachusetts Office on Disability: DISABILITY RIGHTS LAWS IN MASSACHUSETTS (pdf, 360 KB)
Please see page 58