Service Animal Guidelines
Southern Oregon University fully supports the rights and responsibilities of people using service animals on campus. Service animals are not pets. While SOU does not require documentation of service animals, faculty and staff may ask individuals accompanied by an animal if the animal is a service animal. Disability Services for Students, as a service to students, may maintain documentation of the animal and provide information to faculty as part of the instructor accommodation letter process. Service animals must be under voice or leash control at all times.
SOU also complies with the Oregon Fair Housing Act regarding service animals in residence halls. The Oregon Fair Housing Act regards therapy animals or emotional support animals as service animals for the purposes of housing only.
Q: What is a service animal?
A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.
Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:
- Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
- Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
- Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.
Q: Is SOU responsible for the animal while the person with a disability is on campus?
A: No. The care or supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. SOU is not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.
Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?
A: SOU may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from our facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other campus community members may be excluded. SOU may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.
Although a place of public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, SOU gives the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its programs and services without having the service animal on the premises.
Q: Can SOU exclude an animal that doesn't really seem dangerous but is disruptive to campus?
A: There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate a service animal--that is, when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in campus situations. But when it does, for example, when a dog barks during a movie, the animal can be excluded.
Questions regarding service animals should be directed to the following:
Student, prospective student, faculty & staff contact: Theresa Lowrie, Director of Disability Resources - (541)552-6213
Community contact: Dr. Laura O'Bryon, ADA Compliance Officer - (541)552-6223
These guidelines are adapted from the United States Department of Justice.