Assistance Animals

Policy and Procedure for Assistance Animals

The following policy and procedure pertains to the presence on the Bates College campus of animals providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. There are multiple state and federal laws that come into play. It is important to understand that there is a basic distinction between service animals, which do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability, and emotional support animals, which have been determined necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability.  Service animals are primarily an accommodation for attendance at Bates, while emotional support animals are primarily an accommodation for living in college housing. A third definition, of assistance animals, is also used in the housing context and applies to both service and emotional support animals. Definitions, policies, and procedure can be found by using the drop-down menus below.

Definitions

+Pets
A pet is any animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. As described in the Bates College Residence and Dining Regulations, small fish are the only pets allowed in residence halls. Assistance animals are not considered pets.
+Assistance animals
An assistance animal is defined under the Maine Human Rights Act as (A) an animal that has been determined necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability by a physician, psychologist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or licensed social worker (see definition of Emotional Support Animal below); or (B) an animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical or mental disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds, providing reasonable protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or retrieving dropped items (see definition of Service Animal below).
+Service Animals
Service animals are defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 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. The work or task performed must be directly related to the person’s disability (Department of Justice, 2010).

Providing emotional support, comfort, or companionship does not constitute work or tasks under the ADA definition. Service animals are limited to dogs, and in some cases miniature horses. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.

+Emotional Support Animal
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal selected to play an integral part in the treatment process for a person with a mental health or psychiatric disability and is prescribed by a mental health or other qualified healthcare professional. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines an ESA as “an animal that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.”

An ESA may be viewed as a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) if it would allow a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, in this case college housing. This policy applies solely to ESAs which may be necessary in the residential setting and not “Service Animals” as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ESAs are generally not permitted in any Bates College Facility or in any residential dwelling outside of a student’s assigned housing.

Based on the FHA, in order for a student to have an ESA in Bates College housing, the following must apply:

  1. The student must have a disability as defined by the ADA, and;
  2. The animal must be necessary to provide the student with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, and;
  3. A relationship exists between the assistance the animal provides and the disability of the student.

Service Animals

+Campus Policy

Service Animals on Bates College Campus:

In alignment with regulations under the ADA, service animals are generally permitted to accompany a person with a disability in all areas of the Bates College’s campus, including residence halls and academic buildings, where students, members of the public, and other participants in services, programs, or activities are allowed to go.

Bates College does not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been trained, certified, or licensed as a service animal. The College may not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. However, staff may make two inquiries to determine whether a dog qualifies as a service animal:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

A service animal must be housebroken. It must be kept under the control of its handler by a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the person is unable to hold those, or it interferes with the work or task the dog is trained to perform. In such instances, the service animal must be kept under control by voice, signal, or other effective means. Bates College has the right to exclude or remove an animal that constitutes a threat to the health and safety of others, is not housebroken, or creates an unreasonable disturbance.

In the event that a service dog will reside with a student in a residence hall on campus, the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support may need to notify relevant parties on campus of the need to have the dog in the living space, including but not limited to, roommates/suite-mates, Residence Life, Security, Health and Safety, and Facilities.

Requests for use of miniature horses will be assessed on an individual basis. Individuals requesting a miniature horse should contact the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support.

+Student Responsibilities

Bates College is not responsible for the care or supervision of service animals. The student owner is responsible for the care, cost, and supervision of a service animal including:

  • Compliance with requirements and ordinances pertaining to dogs, including licensing, vaccination, and owner identification in Lewiston, ME (Androscoggin County);
  • Keeping the dog under control and taking immediate and effective action if an animal becomes out of control or disruptive;
  • Feeding and walking the dog;
  • Maintaining the animal’s health and keeping it free from fleas and ticks;
  • Disposing of the dog’s waste. Students will be asked to consult with the custodian in their residence hall within the first week of having the animal on campus regarding a plan for waste removal;
  • Bringing the animal with them if they leave campus overnight or for any extended period of time. Service animals may not be left in the care of another student for any period of time. Students are solely responsible for transport of the animal (for example: emergency veterinarian visit, travel during break times, etc).

The student is financially responsible to Bates College for any damage caused by the animal including but not limited to, damage to carpets, furniture, or walls. The student must agree to waive any claims against Bates College for, to defend and indemnify Bates and its employees, officers, and agents against, and to be responsible for any damages arising out of claim of harm caused by the animal.

Students accompanied by a service animal must comply with the same college rules and code of conduct as all students, including but not limited to, noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness.

+Restrictions
Bates College may pose some restrictions on an animal under certain circumstances. Any animal may be excluded from an area in which it was previously authorized if:

  • The animal is out of control and immediate and effective action is not taken to control it;
  • The animal causes an unreasonable disruption or disturbance;
  • The animal’s behavior, noise, odor, or waste exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal;
  • The animal is not housebroken;
  • The owner fails to maintain the cleanliness of their room;
  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

The Office of Accessible Education and Student Support, in conjunction with the Office of Student Support and Community Standards, will make a determination if restrictions should apply. In considering whether an animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, or causes an unreasonable disturbance/disruption, Bates College will make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgement. Depending on the circumstances, a student may be required to meet together with the Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support and the Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Community Standards.

Emotional Support Animals

+Campus Policy

Emotional Support Animals on Bates College Campus:

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are governed by the Fair Housing Act , Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Maine Human Rights Act. Students for whom a physician, psychologist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner or licensed social worker has determined that an animal is necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability are eligible to have an ESA in compliance with this policy.

+Requesting an ESA

Students wishing to request an ESA accommodation should follow these steps:

  1. Schedule a meeting with the Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support, Abigail Nelson, through Bates Reach (current students), by emailing accessibility@bates.edu, or calling 207-786-6222.
  2.  Submit the Emotional Support Animal Application, including a letter from a mental health or other qualified healthcare professional (please see information requested on the application).
  3. Once an application is complete (student has completed steps 1 and 2) it is brought before the Housing Accommodations Review Committee, which determines if the request is reasonable.
  4. The Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support meets with the student to discuss the Committee’s decision.
  5. If approved, a recommendation will be made to the Office of Residence Life and Health Education to provide an exception to the policy regarding animals in college housing.
  6. If approved, the student is not permitted to bring the animal on campus until the following are submitted to the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support:
  7. If the approved ESA is a dog, the student must provide proof of license in the municipality of Lewiston, Maine within three weeks (21 days) of bringing the animal to campus. Licensing information can be found on the Lewiston website.

Important Notes:

  • Requests for housing accommodations, including ESAs, generally take 3-4 weeks to process. Barring extenuating circumstances, the Housing Accommodations Review Committee meets twice per month to review requests.
  • Within one week of approval, the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support will notify relevant parties on campus, including but not limited to, roommates/suite-mates, Residence Life staff, Security, Health & Safety, and Facilities. In making such notification, information related to the student’s disability will not be disclosed, other than the need to have the animal in the living space. An animal is not permitted on campus until this notification has occurred.
+Policies and Student Responsibilities
The following apply to students using ESAs on campus:
  1. Bates College is not responsible for the care or supervision of ESAs. The student is responsible for the cost, care, and supervision of the animal.
  2. An ESA is generally restricted to the student’s room or suite, except when entering/exiting the building, and is not permitted in any other part of the residence hall or in any other facilities on campus. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.
  3. The owner must be in full control of the ESA at all times and take immediate and effective action if an animal becomes out of control or disruptive.
  4. An animal’s behavior, noise, odor, and waste must not exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal. These factors should not create unreasonable disruptions for other residents (for example: uncontrolled barking, jumping on other people, or running away from handler).
  5. Students who have an ESA as an accommodation must comply with the same college rules and code of conduct as all students, including but not limited to, noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness.
  6. The student is responsible for disposing of the animal’s waste. Students will be asked to consult with the custodian in their residence hall within the first week of having the animal on campus regarding a plan for waste removal.
  7. The student must bring the animal with them if they leave campus overnight or for any extended period of time. Animals may not be left in the care of another student for any period of time. Students are solely responsible for transport of the animal (for example: emergency veterinarian visit, travel during break times, etc).
  8. The student is responsible for maintaining the animal’s health and safety. When applicable (usually dogs and cats) the animal should be kept free of fleas and ticks.
  9. The student is financially responsible to Bates College for any damage caused by the animal including but not limited to, damage to carpets, furniture, or walls.
  10. The student must agree to waive any claims against Bates College for, to defend and indemnify Bates and its employees, officers, and agents against, and to be responsible for any damages arising out of claim of harm caused by the animal.
  11. The student must notify the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support in the event the approved animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. If the animal needs to replaced, the student is responsible for registering and providing the required information for the new animal and getting approval before bringing it to campus.
  12. The student must provide written evidence of up-to-date required vaccinations and license, if applicable, at the time of compliance.

+Restrictions
Bates College may pose some restrictions on an ESA under certain circumstances. Any ESA may be excluded from an area in which it was previously authorized, or a student may be required to remove their ESA, if the animal:

  • Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
  • Would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others
  • Would substantially interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of others of their occupancy of college housing.

The foregoing determinations must be made on a case-by-case basis, based on the behavior of the particular animal in question and not based on traits like breed or size.

The Office of Accessible Education and Student Support, in conjunction with the Office of Student Support and Community Standards, will make a determination if restrictions should apply. In considering whether an animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, or causes an unreasonable disturbance/disruption, Bates College will make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgment. Depending on the circumstances, a student may be required to meet together with the Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support and the Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Community Standards.

Questions?

Please contact the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support at accessibility@bates.edu or 207-786-6222.