Service & Support Animals

Service Animals

According to RCW 49.60.040 "Service animal" means any dog or miniature horse, as discussed in RCW 49.60.214, 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 the service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. 

It is unlawful for any person who has received notice that their behavior is interfering with the use of a service animal to continue such behavior with reckless disregard by obstructing, intimidating, or otherwise jeopardizing the safety of the service animal handler (RCW 9.91.170).

Emotional Support Animals (ESA):

Animals that provide emotional support to an individual, such as for depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. They are not considered service animals under the law. ESA’s are also referred to as comfort or therapy animals.

Faculty & Staff Rights & Responsibilities in Academic Settings

If the presence or behavior of the service animal constitutes an imminent threat to people, the faculty or staff member should ask the handler to immediately remove the animal. As stated in POL-U5620.04, Public Safety is to be contacted if a handler refuses this request to remove the animal. If the handler is asked to remove the service animal, they must be offered the opportunity to return to the University premises or the immediate area without the service animal and/or be provided with alternate accommodation within a reasonable time to participate in the University service or program.

If the service animal is not under the handler's control or the service animal is disturbing or disrupting the normal administrative, academic, or programmatic routine, the handler must be given an opportunity to get the animal under control. If the disruption or disturbance continues, the faculty or staff member should contact DAC or public safety for assistance.

Student Rights & Responsibilities in Academic Settings

Students with service animals are not required to register their animal with the University.

  • Students with service animals are encouraged to meet with a DAC counselor so that DAC can notify faculty in advance of courses that a service animal will be present.

  • Students with service animals are responsible for the health and safety of their animal in academic settings. This includes the animal’s cleanliness, vaccinations and licenses as required by state law and/or local ordinance. This information will need to be made available upon the request of DAC or Public Safety.

  • As required by POL-U5620.04, the handler of an animal is responsible for the immediate control and behavior of the animal.

 

Service Animal FAQs

Service animals are permitted to accompany their handlers in all WWU classrooms.

As provided by law and University policy, a service animal may accompany its handler in academic settings:

  • When it is readily apparent that a service animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for its handler, faculty and staff must allow the service animal to access academic settings with its handler. Although service animals often wear a vest or patch identifying them as service animals, there is no requirement that service animals have any identification.

DAC partners with academic departments to identify potential places for students with service animals to safely bring animals to laboratories and non- laboratory hazardous work areas. Based on the different tasks an animal might perform, designated spaces may not work effectively for all students and their service animals. Laboratories and shops are often tight spaces with unique chemical, biological, physical and other hazards. Students with service animals are strongly encouraged to contact their DAC counselor at least four weeks in advance of any lab or shop coursework. DAC will setup a meeting with the student and appropriate academic personnel to:

  • Review whether the identified area is effective or whether an alternative location needs to be identified.

  • Discuss recommended protective equipment such as floor mats, goggles, lab coats and booties. DAC can provide this equipment as needed and requests 4 week notice to do so.

  • Review chemical, biological, physical and other hazards unique to each lab or shop.

  • Review student rights and responsibilities.

On rare occasions, the presence of a service animal could compromise the integrity of research or the safety of others. If this is the case, the lab manager or faculty member should notify DAC prior to the beginning of the quarter. Examples of this would include animal/organismal research facilities, medically sensitive patient and clinic areas and biologically sensitive research sites that could be affected by animal dander, hair or fur. If a service animal is restricted from certain areas, DAC is available to assist in evaluating reasonable accommodations. These limited exceptions are determined in consultation with the faculty member, the ADA Coordinator, and the relevant institutional boards and parties.

When it is readily apparent that a service animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for its handler, faculty and staff must allow the service animal to access academic settings with its handler. Although service animals often wear a vest or patch identifying them as service animals, there is no requirement that service animals have any identification.

In the infrequent circumstance that it is not readily apparent that an animal is a service animal, and faculty have not previously received information from DAC that an animal is a service animal, faculty and staff may make the following limited inquiries of the service animal’s handler:

  1. Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

If the service animal handler indicates that the animal is required due to a disability and that it has been trained to perform work or a task for the handler, faculty and staff must allow the service animal and its handler to access the academic setting.

  • If the answer to either question is in the negative or the student chooses not to answer either of the questions, then the faculty or staff member need not permit the animal to enter.

  • If a question remains for the faculty or staff person as to whether the animal is a service animal, the faculty or staff person should allow the animal to access the academic setting and later contact the Associate Director of DAC to discuss the situation.

In no circumstance should a University employee outside of DAC ask the service animal’s handler for information about their disability for the purposes of determining whether to permit a service animal.

University Residences is committed to supporting the University's educational purpose and mission, and works in partnership with the Disability Access Center (DAC) providing students access to all levels of the residential experience. While pets are not allowed in University Residences, animals classified as service animals (per the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended) or emotional support animals (per the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) are permitted. Campus residents with a service dog or emotional support animal must adhere to the required standards of behavior outlined in POL-U5620.04: Allowing Animals on University Property.