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Service & Assistance Animals

 

Policy Overview

Blinn College is committed to compliance with state and federal laws regarding individuals with disabilities. All questions regarding service animals should be directed to The Office of Disability Services. No documentation will be required to bring service animals into academic buildings on campus. However, in the case of assistance animals residing in college housing, the college will require that documentation be provided by the treating physician or mental health provider, which permits the college to determine:

  • That that the individual has a disability for which the animal is needed;
  • How the animal assists the individual, including whether the animal has undergone any training; and
  • The relationship between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides.

STATE OF TEXAS HUMAN RESOURCES CODE  

TITLE 8. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES Sec. 121.005.  RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.  (a)  A person with a disability who uses a service or assistance animal (for assistance in travel) is liable for any damages done to the premises or facilities by the animal. (b)  A person with a disability who uses a service or assistance animal (for assistance in travel or auditory awareness) shall keep the animal properly harnessed or leashed, and a person who is injured by the animal because of the failure of a person with a disability to properly harness or leash the animal is entitled to maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction under the same law applicable to other causes brought for the redress of injuries caused by animals.   Sec. 121.006.  PENALTIES FOR IMPROPER USE OF ASSISTANCE ANIMALS.  (a)  A person who uses a service animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained service animal when training has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by: (1)  a fine of not more than $300; and (2)  30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with visual impairments or other disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than one year. (b)  A person who habitually abuses or neglects to feed or otherwise neglects to properly care for his or her assistance animal is subject to seizure of the animal under Subchapter B, Chapter 821, Health and Safety Code.

Standards of Behavior by Animal and Animal Owner

Health, sanitary, safety, and disruptive standards must be maintained as follows:

  • Animals require daily food and attention, as well as a daily assessment of their general health, behavior and overall welfare.
  • Animals cannot be left unattended at any time. If the owner must be away, they must either take the animal with them, or make arrangements for them to be cared for elsewhere, which does not include other residence hall (for on campus housing).
  • Emotional support animals are not permitted on campus. They are only permitted in the students housing residence. They are not allowed in common areas or classrooms.
  • Animal waste must be taken care of and any animal handler or owner must comply with Sec. 4.01.002- Animals defecating on public and private property. Animal feces, defined as cat litter box contents and any solid animal waste, must be disposed of properly. It is the owner's responsibility to remove feces from college grounds, dispose of it in a plastic bag, and then place that bag in the garbage dumpsters outside. Cleanup must occur immediately. Animal feces may not be disposed of in any trash receptacle or through the sewer system inside any building on the college campus. Waste must be taken to any apartment dumpster for disposal.
  • Residents with cats must properly maintain litter boxes. In consideration of the health of the cat and occupants of the apartment or the residence hall room, cat litter box contents must be disposed of properly and regularly. The litter box must be changed with new cat litter regularly as outlined by the manufacturer.
  • Animal-accidents within the residence hall room must be promptly cleaned up using appropriate cleaning products.
  • Regular and routine cleaning of floors, kennels, cages, and litter boxes must occur. The odor of an animal emanating from the residence hall room or apartment is not acceptable. (see Cleaning Section below)
  • Any flea infestation must be attended to promptly by the contracted professional extermination company at owner's expense. Owners are expected to promptly notify the hall office or facilities staff and arrange for extermination when a flea problem is noted. Animal owners may take some precautionary measures such as: flea medications prescribed by veterinarians, flea and tick collars, taking your animal to the veterinarian for flea and tick baths. However, housing staff may not use chemical agents and insecticides to exterminate fleas and ticks. Because not all of the precautions listed above can prevent flea and tick infestations, the owner is responsible for extermination costs after vacating the residence hall room or apartment.
  • Animals must not be allowed to disrupt others (e.g., barking continuously, growling, yowling, howling, etc.). Animals which constitute a threat or nuisance to staff, residents or property, as determined by the Housing Director or designee, must be removed within seven (7) days of notification. If Blinn College Police Department personnel determine an animal poses an immediate threat, animal control may be summoned to remove the animal. If the behavior of an animal can be addressed by the owner and the owner can change the behavior of an animal so the pet does not have to be removed, then a written action plan must be submitted by the owner. The action plan must outline the action to take place to alleviate the problems and also must give a deadline as to length of time the plan will take to complete. Any action plan must meet the approval of the Housing Director or designee. The day after the deadline for removal from the apartment, housing staff will do a residence hall room or apartment inspection to check damages and infestation and then the mandatory cleaning and extermination will be scheduled. Any animal owner found not adhering to the removal directive will be subject to disciplinary action, which could include contract cancellation.
  • An animal must not be involved in an incident where a person experiences either the threat of or an actual injury as a result of the animal's behavior. The animal owner will take all reasonable precautions to protect college staff and residents, as well as the property of the college and of the residents.
  • The owner will notify residence life staff via the hall office if the animal has escaped its confines and is unable to be located within eight (8) hours.
  • All liability for the actions of the animal (bites, scratches, etc.) is the responsibility of the owner. Violations concerning any of the aforementioned may result in the resident having to find alternative housing off-campus for the animal and, as warranted, may also result in a resident being in breach of their housing contract.

Dogs (Service and Assistance Animals)

  • All required immunizations must be up-to-date and a copy of the immunizations must be on file with the Housing Office.
  • Dogs must be licensed and a copy of the license must be on file with the Housing Office.
  • Dogs must be spayed or neutered. A copy of the veterinarian's report must be on file with the Housing Office.
  • A Certificate of Health signed by a veterinarian certifying the dog is healthy and free from any signs of infectious or contagious diseases, parasites, etc. must be on file with the Housing Office.
  • Collars and tags must be worn at all times. The dog must be kept on a leash at all times when outside the residence hall or apartment. Dogs must never be allowed to run freely.
  • Dogs must possess friendly and sociable characteristics. A specific dog can be restricted from the premises by the Housing Director or designee based on any confirmed threatening or territorial behavior. (Texas Health and Safety Code Title 10. Chapter 833, Subchapter A, Sec. 822.041).
  • Dog obedience and training programs are highly recommended.

Individuals with disabilities may be accompanied by their service animals in all Blinn College buildings where members of the public or participants in services, programs or activities are allowed to go. By law, a service animal means 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals.
The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of such tasks include, but are not limited to: assisting an individual with low vision with navigation; alerting individuals who are hard of hearing to the presence of people or objects; pulling a person's wheelchair; or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with a mobility disability.
Federal law does not require the individual to provide documentation that an animal has been trained as a service animal. The College may, however, ask if the animal is required because of a disability, as well as what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

Exceptions

The College may exclude a service animal from campus if its behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or when its presence fundamentally alters the nature of a program or activity. Furthermore, the College may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from campus if the animal is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it; or if the animal is not housebroken. The service animal is considered an extension of the student and thus, is subject to the same code of conduct as a student would follow. Disruptive behavior by a service animal will be grounds for removal from an academic setting in the same manner that a disruptive student will be removed from the same environment.

Responsibilities of Individuals with Service Animals

The College is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal. Individuals with disabilities are responsible for the control of their service animals at all times and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including vaccination, licensure, animal health and leash laws. A service animal shall be restrained with a harness, leash, or other tether, unless an individual’s disability precludes the use of a restraint or if the restraint would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks. If a service animal is not tethered, it must be otherwise under the individual’s control, whether by voice control, signals, or other effective means.
Individuals are responsible for ensuring the immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste. Although the College may not charge an individual with a disability a service animal surcharge, it may impose charges for damages caused by a service animal in the same manner the College imposes charges for damages caused by students.

Service Animals:

Service Animals are regulated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because they are considered an accommodation needed by a person with a disability to perform specific tasks needed to mitigate the effects of their disability. The regulations state the following:

  • A service animal is defined as a dog (and in some very limited cases a miniature horse)
  • Trained to perform a specific task that the person with a disability cannot otherwise perform themselves.

No other animals are considered service animals, only dogs. Federal regulations also do not require the person with a disability to provide documented proof of training of the dog, nor do they have to provide documentation of their disability. Should a person with a service animal want to take the animal into a building or area that is open and accessible to the general public, they may do so. The only questions that can be asked by the entity of the person with a service animal are:

  • Do you have the dog because of a disability?
  • What task is it trained to do?

No other questions can be asked and no proof can be required of training. Currently, service animals are trained for a variety of disabilities, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, physical impairments, and mental health issues, such as Post Traumatic Stress. The dogs are trained to recognize and sense when the person is beginning to have a panic attack and will paw or pull the person to remove them from the situation. That is a specific task, and the dog is not there simply to keep them calm. If the person responds that the dog is just there to help keep them calm when you ask your two questions, then that is not a task and thus would not be considered a service animal. 
While we are limited in our ability to control the access and use of service animals in all public areas, the people with the disabilities have certain responsibilities as well. The service animal is considered an extension of the person and therefore must be complaint with the same public rules and regulations that the disabled person must comply with. So, just as a person cannot yell out loud and run around being disruptive in a restaurant or store, neither may a service animal. Management can ask the person to remove any service animal that is being disruptive or exhibiting threatening behavior just as they would ask any person to leave for the same reasons once the service animal has been removed, the person may reenter the establishment without the animal if they so choose. This same situation applies to all academic buildings on the campus. Service animals are under the same Student Code of Conduct as the students. Faculty members may not refuse students with service animals entrance into their classroom, but they can control the behavior of the service animal.
Additionally, service animals must be tethered at all times (unless the leash interferes with the task the animal performs) and meet all local health requirements, including vaccinations.

Emotional Support Animals:

Emotional Support Animals (ESA's) are covered under the Fair Housing Act because they may be required for a variety of mental health issues. They are not trained to do a certain task, but are generally used to help with emotional stability and stress reduction. If ESA's are needed due to a disability, the person may be allowed to keep the animal in their primary residence without being required to pay a pet deposit and despite a policy that does not allow pets. This applies in most cases to all public and private rental property, as well as college housing. 
However, ESA's are not allowed into buildings that are accessible to the general public as is the case with Service Animals. This includes all academic buildings on campus.

ESA's can be a variety of animals and are not limited to dogs. They are, however, limited to the city and county restrictions of domestic animals that are allowed within an incorporated entity.

Service Animals (only a dog) are permitted in any campus building that the general public has access to.  Emotional Support Animals (various animals) are only allowed in the room within a residence hall of the student and no other buildings on campus.