Service Animals

Definition of a Service Animal

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) defines a service animal as “any dog 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 a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, or retrieving dropped items for a person with limited mobility”. If an animal meets this definition, it is considered a Service Animal regardless of whether or not it has been certified by a training program.

Emotional Support or comfort animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being are not Service Animals.

See our Emotional Support Animal Policy for more information.

The person a Service Animal assists is referred to as a handler. The handler and animal together are referred to as a team. Service Animals are working animals, not pets. Service Animals are not required to wear any special collars, vests, or harnesses. You may inquire if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. You may not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability.

Access rights afforded to users of Service Animals comes with the responsibility of the handler to ensure compliance with all requirements of this Policy, including but not limited to the following control requirements. The handler assumes full personal liability for any damage to property or persons caused by their Service Animal, and Plymouth State University shall not be responsible for any harm to a service animal while on campus, including but not limited to injury to the animal caused by pest management or lawn care products.

Types of Service Dogs

A service dog can be any breed or size.

Guide dog: A dog that is carefully trained that serves as a travel tool for individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Hearing dog: A dog that has been trained to alert a person who is deaf or hard of hearing when a sound occurs (e.g. knock on the door, a fire alarm, the phone ringing).

Service dog (assistance dog): A dog that has been trained to assist a person who has a mobility or health impairment. Types of duties the dog may perform include carrying, retrieving, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability, assisting a person to get up after a fall, etc.

Sig (signal) dog: A dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the handler to distracting repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, which are common among those with autism. This intervention allows the person to stop the movement. A person with autism may also have deficits in sensory input, and may need the same support services from a dog that one might provide for a person who is blind or deaf.

Seizure response dog: A dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. The method by which the dog serves the person depends on the individual’s needs. Some dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance.

Psychiatric Service Animal: A dog trained to perform a variety of tasks that assist individuals to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and ameliorate their effects. Some of the tasks may include:

  • Reminding the handler to take medicine
  • Providing safety checks or room searches
  • Turning on lights
  • Preventing or interrupting impulsive or self-destructive behaviors
  • Removing disoriented individuals from dangerous situations

Requests for Service Animals to live in Campus Housing

Per the ADA, Service Animals are permitted in all campus spaces with their handler without any formal registration process through Campus Accessibility Services.  However, in order to request to have a Service Animal live in the residence halls or on-campus apartments, students must register their Service Animal with the Campus Accessibility Services Director, who will work with the student and Residential Life staff to ensure the rights and responsibilities of all parties are understood.

ESA/Service animal approval is a two-step process:
1. Reasonableness: Campus Accessibility Services (CAS)- Individuals who wish to bring an ESA or service animal to campus must first obtain confirmation of a reasonable accommodation through Campus Accessibility Services. CAS will send confirmation to the Office of Residential Life once processed.
2. Animal Health and Policy Adherence- Residential Life- Once confirmation is received, the Housing Coordinator will email the student a link to the Service/Support Animal Housing Application. This online application is neededto confirm the health of the animal and acknowledgment of policies.

Please see Residential Life’s Emotional Support Animal & Service Animal Policy for more information.

Public Etiquette by Students, Faculty, and Staff

Individuals should not:

  • Engage in behavior that draws attention to the animal so as to cause a disruption to the class, activity, and/or event.
  • Pet a Service Animal. Service Animals are trained to be protective of their handlers and petting distracts them from their responsibilities.
  • Feed a working Service Animal.
  • Deliberately startle, tease or taunt a Service Animal.
  • Separate or attempt to separate a handler from his/her Service Animal.
  • Hesitate to ask a student if he/she would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction in which to turn, an accessible entrance, or the location of an elevator, etc.

Areas of Safety

There are certain instances when it may be considered unsafe or unhealthy for animals in such places as medical facilities, laboratories, mechanical rooms, food preparation areas or any other place where the health or safety of the animal, the handler or others may be threatened. When it is determined unsafe for the team to be in one of these areas, reasonable accommodations may be provided to assure the handler equal access to the activity.

Emergency Situations

Plymouth State University personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any Service Animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm.  Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal.

PSU Grievance Procedure

Plymouth State University is committed to providing appropriate accommodations and services to qualifying individuals with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 including changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  Contact the Title IX and 504 Coordinator, Jannett Wiggett (603) 535-2206, if you believe your rights have been violated or are a person dissatisfied with a decision concerning a Service Animal.

Questions related to the use of Service Animals on campus should be directed to the following contacts:


Student Concerns
Lindsay Page, Campus Accessibility Services Director

Employee Concerns

Human Resources


Visitor Concerns
Katie Caron, Manager, Campus Environmental Health & Safety

504 Coordinator
Janette Wiggett, Title IX and 504 Coordinator


Reviewed by USNH Legal Counsel February 15, 2016