Service Animal/Pet Policy and Procedure

Service Animal Photo

View Policy 7015: Service Animals/Pets.

Non-service animals are not allowed in TMCC buildings unless approved by the college. Non-service animals may be banned from outdoor public events on college property. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (2010 revised guidelines), defines a service animal as "a dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability."

Service animals are specially trained to guide individuals who are blind, alert an individual of an impending seizure or protect an individual during a seizure, alert people who are deaf, remind a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calm a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, pull a wheelchair and fetch dropped items, or other duties as trained.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Non-service animals are not allowed in TMCC buildings and may be banned from outdoor public events on college property.

Service Animal Versus Therapy or Emotional Support Animal

  • A service animal is an animal with a good temperament and disposition, which has reliable, predictable behavior, and is selected and trained to accompany people with disabilities at all times. The animal may be incorporated as an integral part of a treatment process for a person with a disability.
  • A therapy/emotional support animal does not accompany a person with a disability at all times, unlike a service animal that is always with a person with a disability. A therapy/emotional support animal is not considered to be a service animal under this policy or applicable law.

Misrepresenting a Therapy or Emotional Support Animal as a Service Animal

NRS 426.805 states:

  • “It is unlawful for a person to fraudulently misrepresent an animal as a service animal or service animal in training.”
  • “A person convicted of fraudulently misrepresenting an animal as a service animal or service animal in training is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.”

Service Animal Terminology

  • Partner/Handler: A person with a service animal. A person with a disability is called a partner; a person without a disability is called a handler.
  • Pet: A domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. Pets are not permitted in college 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.
  • 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.

How to Determine if an Animal Qualifies as a Service Animal

Determination will be made by the College’s Disability Resource Center or the ADA Coordinator in Human Resources. Please contact the DRC or Human Resources for further information.

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 at hand.
  • 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 unsupervised, bringing attention to itself) may be asked to remove the animal from the college's facilities. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the partner/handler may be told not to bring the service animal into any university facility until they take significant steps to mitigate the behavior. Mitigation can include muzzling a barking animal or refresher training for both the animal and the partner/handler. Proof of these mitigating efforts will be provided to the DRC or ADA Coordinator before the animal will be allowed back on campus.
  • 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 is usually 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.

What You Can Ask a Person Accompanied by a Service Animal

Per NRS 651.075 subsection 2. A place of public accommodation may:

  1. Ask a person accompanied by an animal:
    1. If the animal is a service animal or service animal in training; and 
    2. What tasks the animal is trained to perform or is being trained to perform.
  2. Ask a person to remove a service animal or service animal in training if the animal:
    1. Is out of control and the person accompanying the animal fails to take effective action to control it; or
    2. Poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.

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.

Steps to Register a Service Animal on Campus

  1. Schedule an appointment:
    • Students please contact the DRC at 775-673-7277 and register as a student with a disability. 
    • Employees please contact the ADA Coordinator at 775-673-7168.
  2. Complete a Registration of a Service Animal form:
    • Students - available from the DRC.
    • Employees - available from HR.
  3. Obtain licensing and vaccination records: 
    • The animal must be licensed and immunized in accordance with the laws, regulations, and ordinances of the State of Nevada, City of Reno and Washoe County. Licensing laws vary per city or county where the student attends classes. 
  4. Bring service animal and all relevant documentation to campus for a meeting with the DRC or ADA coordinator.

Requirements of Service Animals and their Partners/Handlers on Campus

  • Ensure that the service animal is:
    • In good health: Service animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas. A partner with an ill animal may be asked to leave the college facilities.
    • On a leash: The service animal must be on a leash at all times (except where the dog or service animal must perform a task requiring it to travel beyond the length of the restrain, or the owner is unable to maintain the dog on a leash due to a disability).
    • Under the 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.
  • Handler/Partner 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 animals may not be required to. However, the individual is required to notify the DRC or ADA Coordinator so that other accommodations can be made.

Filing a Complaint

Any partner/handler dissatisfied with a decision made concerning a service animal should contact the DRC or ADA Coordinator and follow the TMCC ADA Accommodation Appeal/Grievance procedure.