Service animals are trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and amendments defines service animals as “…any…animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.” If a dog, or in rare cases a miniature horse, meets this definition of being individually trained to work directly with their disabled owners to assist with specific daily tasks, it is considered a service animal. Grinnell College complies with the ADA in allowing use of service animals on campus and in residence halls. However, because of health and safety concerns, the College’s ADA Coordinator, Jennifer Krohn, oversees use of such animals. Guide dogs in training are not permitted.
Therapy animals are handled by their owners to provide comfort and companionship by sharing the animal with patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions and wherever else the therapy animal is needed. This is done in a way that increases emotional well being, promotes healing, and improves the quality of life for the people being visited. Therapy animals are NOT entitled to the same benefits as service animals (i.e., they are not covered by the ADA) and thus are not permitted in the residence halls. However, if a student owns or needs a therapy dog, and it has been certified through a nationally recognized program or process, the student may be released from the on-campus residential requirement. The two organizations that certify therapy dogs, and provide insurance for dogs that complete their programs, are:
• Therapy Dog International http://www.tdi-dog.org
• Delta Society http://www.deltasociety.org
Emotional Support Animals
Emotional support animals are usually used by people who find the company of an animal to be important for their mental health and wellness, beyond the pleasure of a pet. Sometimes, people with depression, anxiety, or other struggles related to mental well-being will train and keep an animal that soothes their symptoms, often with the support of their treating counselor or physician. Owners can register their animal with an organization that will classify their pet as an emotional support animal, usually after some paperwork is completed and a fee is paid. Because emotional support animals are not legally protected by the ADA, they are not permitted in the residence halls. One example of this kind of organization is:
• National Service Animal Registry http://www.nsarco.com
A pet is a domestic animal that is kept for pleasure or companionship. Amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, rodents (except ferrets), or reptiles that are non-poisonous and non-dangerous are permitted in student rooms, provided there is roommate permission, proper care, and registration with the Residence Life Coordinator (RLC). For more information, please review the Grinnell College Pet Policy.