The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division released a set of FAQs on July 20, 2015 to address common issues and questions related to the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) to service animals. These FAQs may clarify your institution’s responsibilities and rights with respect to service animals. We have included a review of noteworthy information below:
- It is permissible for individuals qualified under the ADA to use more than one service animal to perform the same or multiple tasks if necessary. In these circumstances, an institution should accommodate both animals whenever possible.
- Institutions covered by the ADA are not obligated to supervise or otherwise care for service animals.
- Unprovoked and repeated barking in a lecture hall, theater, library, or other quiet space means a service animal is not “under control” as required by the ADA. However, a single or otherwise provoked bark does not indicate that the animal is out of control.
- Mandatory registration of dogs as service animals is not permitted under the ADA. In contrast, voluntary registration programs that serve a public purpose are permissible.
- Institutions may restrict service animals from dormitory areas reserved for individuals with allergies to dog dander as the animal’s presence may fundamentally alter the nature of a service provided by the institution.
- The ADA does not require that service animals be permitted in pools, but must be permitted on pool decks and other pool areas open to the public.
- While animals other than service animals (i.e. therapy, comfort, or companion animals) are not covered by the ADA, they may be considered “reasonable accommodations” for students living in dormitories under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The full set of FAQ is linked below. If you would like to discuss the effect of these developments on your own institution’s policies and procedures, please do not hesitate to contact our office. You can reach Elizabeth Sanghavi at (617) 274-5725, Kate Upatham at (617) 274-5726, Trina Ingelfinger at (617) 274-5730, and Jenni Lopez at (617) 274-5729.
To view the full FAQ document released by the Department of Justice, please click here.