Student Support

Service Animals


Use of Service Animals on Campus by Those with Disabilities

A service animal might be trained to assist an individual with a specific disability related need. Under the ADA, only dogs and miniature horses qualify as service animals. 

Guide dogs used by those with vision loss are the most commonly recognized. No licensing or certifying entity exists to legitimize the use of a service animal.  Rather, the need of the individual with a disability and the specific function the service animal (in most cases a dog) is trained to perform legitimize the use under federal and state laws.

For more information, visit ADA Requirements: Service Animals .

Individuals who have obvious disabilities such as blindness or quadriplegia raise few questions.  Those with hidden disabilities such as hearing loss, epilepsy, autism, or mental health who use a dog may raise some questions.

To inquire about the presence of a dog, it is reasonable to only ask the following two questions:

  • Is this a service dog required because of a disability?
  • What work or tasks has the dog been trained to perform?

We cannot ask the person to provide the following information:

  • Nature of the disability
  • Medical documentation
  • Identification card or training documentation
  • Demonstration of the dog’s ability to perform the work or task

Service animals must be under the control of the handler at all times.  The ADA states the following:  " Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devices.  In that case, the individual  must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective controls." 

If the dog is disruptive to the learning environment or college events, directly aggressive or threatening, or not under the control of the handler at all times, then access by the animal will be prohibited with assistance from College Police, if necessary. Such access restriction should be referred to the ADA/504 Compliance Officer, Eric Oifer at 310-434-8912, or designee.

For further inquiry, contact the Center for Students with Disabilities at 310-434-4265 voice or Campus Police 310-434-4300.

Federal and state laws acknowledge that, "in rare circumstances," access can be limited if health and safety are jeopardized by the presence of a service dog.  An example is certain designated areas of a medical facility, i.e., nursing program practicum sites. Areas that pose a direct safety risk to the dog are probably not reasonable locations for the owner either.

Mere speculation that the dog might pose a potential health risk to others is not supported by law. If a fellow student/faculty or staff states a health problem (e.g. allergy) with the service dog, medical documentation regarding the problem will be required for the ADA/504 Compliance Officer, Eric Oifer at 310-434-8912 to determine the appropriate solution for the situation.

All members of the college community must behave properly with service dogs.

  • Do not attempt to pet the dog.
  • Do not attempt to feed the dog.
  • Do not deliberately startle or distract the dog.
  • Do not attempt to separate the dog from its partner or training handler.
*Note: Dogs and miniature horses are the only animals specified as services animals under federal law.

Service Animals in Science Laboratories

Service animals entering laboratories must be protected against hazardous chemicals and broken glass similar to students.  Protective gear such as booties, a lab coat, or googles may be required.  It is the owner's responsibility to provide and train their service animal to wear the required protective gear.  

The student is also responsible for providing a plastic-backed absorbent paper for the service animal to lie on during the lab to avoid exposure to hazardous materials on the floor. 

Staff may ask two questions: 

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task had the dog been trained to perform?  

Additional discussion with the student such as does the animal need to be with you at all times or what is the animal trained to alert to better accommodate the student's needs.

Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Animals

If a student requires an emotional support animal or a therapy animal as an accommodation, the student must register with DSPS, provide documentation from a qualified medical professional and meet with a DSPS counselor. 

Accommodations are individualized and determined on a case by case basis. The same principles apply as a service animal that the animal must not be disruptive to the learning environment or college events and be under the control of the handler at all times. 

An accommodation letter or a verification card approving an emotional support animal or a therapy animal will be provided to the student on a semester by semester basis.