Behavioural Expectations Regarding Service Animals

General Expectations of Service Animals

Service animals are expected to be calm and under control at all times while on campus.  Pacing, barking or whining can be disruptive to campus or classroom activities, and energetic or anxious greetings of other people can be upsetting.

There are no public areas of the campus where a service animal is permitted to roam freely.  At all times, service animals must be restrained by a leash or other appropriate means.

Owners are always required to clean-up after their animal and dispose of waste in the appropriate receptacle.

Situations where a service animal causes disruption to the campus community or damages property will be regarded the same as if the owner had directly engaged in the behaviour themselves.

The cost of repairing or replacing any damaged property falls entirely to the owner of the animal.  It is also the responsibility of the owner to avoid and/or remedy any disruptions caused by a service animal.

If a person who does not require the service animal for disability-related reasons takes control of the animal, then it ceases to be considered a service animal for the purposes of accessing campus facilities until it is returned to its regular owner.

If the University has to intervene to remove a service animal that is out of control, the cost of removal will fall to the owner.

Personal Well-Being: Person with a Disability

It is in the best interests of the person with a disability to ensure that their service animal has been trained by a reputable organization. The campus environment has many opportunities for service animals to encounter novel situations that can give rise to problematic behaviour, and this can be very distressing for their owners.

There are members of the campus community who will directly challenge someone who is responsible for an animal that is behaving poorly. Students with mental health difficulties in particular might find this kind of attention aggravates their condition rather than relieving it.

Reputable training programs also usually include a component that focuses on training the owner of the service animal.  This helps with skills to respond to tricky or unexpected situations the service animal and owner might encounter.  It is also designed to ensure consistency of expectations of the service animal, which helps to protect its well-being over the long-term.

Animal Well-being

Dogs: daily exercise is important for the health of most dogs who act as service animals. Taking your dog to an appropriate off-campus location to run and play can help to avoid unwanted behaviour problems.

Service animals are expected to be fully vaccinated, and treated for fleas and ticks as appropriate to the species.

It is advisable to provide emergency contact information for the service animal in case the regular handler becomes incapacitated unexpectedly.

Common Situations to Anticipate

How will the animal respond to strangers with characteristics they haven't seen before?  

Some dogs are disturbed by people with hats, sunglasses, dark skin, facial hair, canes, limping, loud voices, etc.  The response of a service animal must always be neutral.

How will the service animal respond to intriguing smells?  If someone puts down a backpack or purse with something that smells really delicious, will the service animal ignore it?

Will the service animal get restless in class or during an exam?  This could be a serious distraction.

How does the service animal respond to crowded spaces?  There are many spots on our campus where crowds tend to form; this should not faze the animal at all.

Is the service animal mature enough? For example, dogs that are less than a year old may experience changes in their behaviour as they mature and this can make them unreliable as service animals.

Implications for Other Service Animals

Has the service animal been spayed or neutered? For dogs in particular, remaining intact tends create a high risk for causing distractions among other service animals.  The owner of the intact animal would be responsible for such disruptions.

Animals sometimes respond to other animals in ways that are quite different from how they respond to humans, and this is sometimes surprising for their owners.  A dog that is not thoroughly trained can undermine the training of one of these specialized service animals - and sometimes this happens after only one point of contact.

Some of the service animals in the community have received training that costs upwards of $40,000.  This is because they perform highly specialized disability-related functions. A student (or their animal) who damages the training to such a specialized service anmial may be placing the another person in danger, and would be responsible for the cost of replacing the animal if it has to be retired.