According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (2010 revised guidelines), service animals are defined as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities." Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.
Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. Service animals will be permitted to accompany a person with a disability everywhere on campus or off campus as the activity (e.g. internship, field work, etc.) pertains to the curriculum.
In compliance with the ADA, service animals are welcome in all buildings at TMCC, and may attend any class, meeting or other co-curricular event.
Students with disabilities desiring to use a service animal at TMCC should first contact the DRC to register as a student with a disability. A DRC intake staff member will evaluate the disability and recommend any additional accommodations appropriate to the functional limitations of the disability based on the documentation received.
See Also: Registration of a Service Animal
Service Animal Terminology
- Partner/Handler: A person with a service or therapy animal. A person with a disability is called a partner; a person with a disability is called a handler.
- Pet: A domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. Pets are not permitted in university facilities, except the veterinary clinic.
- Service Animal: Any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. If there is a question about whether an animal is a service animal, contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC).
- Therapy/Companion Animal: An animal with good temperament and disposition, and who has reliable, predictable behavior, selected to visit people with disabilities or people who are experiencing the frailties of aging as a therapy tool. The animal may be incorporated as an integral part of a treatment process. A therapy/companion animal does not assist an individual with a disability in the activities of daily living. The therapy/companion animal does not accompany a person with a disability all the time, unlike a service animal that is usually with its partner/handler. Thus, a therapy/companion animal is not covered by laws protecting service animals and governing their activities.
- Trainee: An animal undergoing training to become a service animal. A trainee will be housebroken and fully socialized. To be fully socialized means the animal will not, except under rare occasions, bark, yip, growl or make disruptive noises; will have a good temperament and disposition; will not be aggressive. A trainee will be under control of the handler, who may or may not have a disability. If the trainee begins to show improper behavior, the handler will act immediately to correct the animal or will remove the animal from the premises.
Requirements of Service Animals and Their Partners/Handlers
- Forms/Meeting: The partner/handler will provide the DRC a completed Registration of a Service Animal form and must schedule an appointment to meet with the DRC. This meeting must occur prior to the first day of class with the service animal. Bring vaccination records and service animal to the appointment.
- Licensing and Vaccination: The animal must be licensed and immunized in accordance with the laws, regulations, and ordinances of the City of Reno, Washoe County, and the State of Nevada.
- Health: The animal must be in good health and the owner should present proof to the DRC of an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Service animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas. A partner/handler with an ill animal may be asked to leave facilities.
- Leash: The animal must be on a leash at all times.
- Under Control of the Partner/Handler: The partner/handler must be in full control of the animal at all times. The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of its partner/handler.
- Cleanup: The partner/handler must clean up after the animal defecates. The feces must be disposed of properly either by burial or wrapped in a plastic bag and put in a waste receptacle. Note: Individuals with disabilities who physically cannot clean up after their own service animal shall not be required to pick up and dispose of feces; however, the individual is required to notify the Disability Resource Center so that other accommodations can be made.
Requirements of Faculty, Staff, and Students
- Allow a service animal to accompany the partner/handler at all times and everywhere on campus except where service animals are prohibited.
- Do not pet a service animal; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from the task.
- Do not feed a service animal.
- Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
- Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from his or her service animal.
When a Service Animal Can Be Asked to Leave
- Disruption: The partner/handler of an animal that is unruly or disruptive (e.g., barking, running around, bringing attention to itself) may be asked to remove the animal from university facilities. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the partner/handler may be told not to bring the animal into any university facility until the partner/handler takes significant steps to mitigate the behavior. Mitigation can include muzzling a barking animal or refresher training for both the animal and the partner/handler.
- Cleanliness: Partner/handlers with animals that are unclean, noisome, and or bedraggled may be asked to leave College facilities. An animal that becomes wet from walking in the rain or mud or from being splashed on by a passing automobile, but is otherwise clean, should be considered a clean animal. Animals that shed in the spring sometimes look bedraggled. If the animal in question usually is well groomed, consider the animal tidy even though its spring coat is uneven and messy appearing or it has become wet from weather or weather-related incidents.
Areas Off Limits to Service Animals
- Research Laboratories: The natural organisms carried by dogs and other animals may negatively affect the outcome of the research. At the same time, the chemicals and/or organisms used in the research may be harmful to service animals.
- Areas Where There is a Danger to the Service Animal: Any room, including a classroom, where there are sharp metal cuttings or other sharp objects on the floor or protruding from a surface; where there is hot material on the floor; where there is a high level of dust; or where there is moving machinery is off-limits to service animals. (e.g., mechanical rooms, custodial closets, wood shops, metal/machine shops) Professors may make exceptions on a case by case basis. The final decision shall be made based on the nature of research or machinery and the best interest of the animal.
Any partner/handler dissatisfied with a decision made concerning a service animal should contact the Human Resources Office and follow the TMCC ADA Accommodation Appeal/Grievance procedure.