1.0 Purpose

1.1 Background

Germanna Community College is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. In addition, Germanna strives to comply with the Virginians with Disabilities Act and other state laws pertaining to individuals with disabilities. In accordance with these state and federal laws, service animals are permitted in all of the College’s facilities.   

The Americans with Disabilities Act 2010 Revised Requirements defines a service animal as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.”  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. If an animal meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified by a state or local government or training program. 

Virginia state law 51.5-44 part E states, “Every totally or partially blind person shall have the right to be accompanied by a dog, in a harness, trained as a guide dog, every deaf or hearing-impaired person shall have the right to be accompanied by a dog trained as a hearing dog on a blaze orange leash, and every mobility-impaired person shall have the right to be accompanied by a dog, in a harness or backpack, trained as a service dog in any of the places listed in subsection 3 without being required to pay an extra charge for the dog; provided that he shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by such dog. The provisions of this section shall apply to persons accompanied by a dog that is in training, at least six months of age, and is (i) in harness, provided such person is an experienced trainer of guide dogs; (ii) on a blaze orange leash, provided such person is an experienced trainer of hearing dogs; (iii) in a harness or backpack, provided such person is an experienced trainer of service dogs; or (iv) wearing a jacket identifying the recognized guide, hearing or service dog organization, provided such person is an experienced trainer of the organization identified on the jacket.” 

2.0 Policy

This policy applies to students, employees, and the public who utilize Germanna Community College’s programs and services. It sets forth the College’s requirements for use of service animals by qualified individuals with a disability or disabilities for access to facilities and programs or as a reasonable accommodation in compliance with State and Federal legislation regarding persons with disabilities. It is the College’s intention to ensure that persons with disabilities who have a legitimate and/or documented basis for utilizing service animals on College premises are permitted to do so (with appropriate exceptions listed below).

3.0 Procedures

3.1 Types of Service Animals/Service Dogs

Service Animal

A dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Other animals specifically trained to perform similar tasks may be approved on a case by case basis.

Guide Dog

A carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool for persons with severe visual impairments or who are blind. 

Hearing Dog

A dog who has been trained to alert a person with significant hearing loss or who is deaf when a sound—e.g. knock on the door—occurs

Service Dog

A dog that has been trained to assist a person with a mobility or health impairment. Types of duties the dog may perform include carrying, fetching, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, helping a person up after a person falls, etc. Service dogs are sometimes called assistance dogs

Sig Dog

A dog that is trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping). A person with autism may have problems with sensory input and need the same support services from a dog that a dog might give to a person who is blind or deaf. 

Seizure Response Dog

A dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder; how the dog serves the person depends on  the person’s needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure, or the dog may go for help. A few dogs have somehow learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance. 

3.2 Therapy Dogs

Therapy Animal

An animal with a good temperament and disposition that has reliable and predictable behavior. These animals are selected to visit or serve as companions for people with nonphysical/non-sensory disabilities, emotional impairments, or people who are experiencing the frailties of aging. Often such animals are utilized as part of formalized animal therapy programs. Therapy animals generally do not assist persons with disabilities in the activities of daily living or directly with the major life activities as defined by law. The therapy animal does not provide fundamental assistance all or most of the time (as for example, a guide dog for the blind typically does). Emotional dependency on companion animals, pets, or therapy animals does not generally rise to the standard of service animals as defined in the ADA. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals. Therapy animals are not permitted inside of Germanna Community College buildings and facilities except where the animal has been approved as a reasonable accommodation for a disability in accord with standard procedures for requesting such accommodations. 

Germanna Community College recognizes that therapy animals may be used as part of a treatment plan for individuals with disabilities.

3.3 Registration of Therapy Animal Utilized for Ongoing Access or Accommodation 

Any student or member of the public wishing to use a service animal to provide ongoing accommodation or access to College facilities, programs, or activities, must register the animal with the Office of Disability Services at the appropriate campus. The registration procedure includes: 

  1. Providing sufficient evidence verifying the animal meets the definition of a service animal.
  2. Providing evidence that the service animal has satisfactory health. 
  3. Developing a plan for maintenance of the animal while on GCC property, including toiletry and disposal. Students may not assume that College personnel are responsible for clean-up.

3.4 Requirements for Faculty, Staff, and Students 

  1. Allow a service animal to accompany the partner at all times and everywhere on campus except where service animals are specifically prohibited. 
  2. Do not pet a service animal; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from the task at hand. 
  3. Do not feed a service animal. The service animal may have specific dietary requirements.
  4. Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
  5. Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from his/her service animal. 

3.5 When a Service Animal may be asked to Leave 

Service animals under state and federal law are permitted in College facilities except under limited circumstances. Service animals may be excluded from College facilities under certain circumstances when necessary to protect legitimate College interests. These circumstances may include: 

  1. Interfering with the work of another service animal 
  2. Causing a “fundamental alteration” of curricula, services, activities or programs due to the presence of an animal.
  3. The animal or handler failing to maintain appropriate behavioral standards.
  4. Maintaining and protecting the rights of others under the ADA/504.
  5. Protecting College property.
  6. When the presence of the animal poses a ‘direct threat” to the health and safety of the public, employees, and students.

3.6 Requirements of Service Animals and their Partners/Handlers

The service animal should wear a harness, and/or identification tag or other gear that readily identifies its working status. 

  1. Vaccination – The animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal.
  2. Licensing – Virginia law (3.1-796.85) states that all dogs four months or older must be licensed.
  3. Under the Control of Partner/Handler – The partner/handler must be in full control of the service animal at all times. The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of the partner/handler.
  4. The animal must be on a leash or controlled by a harness at all times.
  5. Clean up and Maintenance – Always carry equipment sufficient to clean up the animal’s feces. If the partner/handler is unable to physically clean up after their service animal, a plan must be developed to ensure the proper disposal of the animal’s waste.

4.0 Point of Contact

Win Stevens
Counselor/Coordinator of Disability Services
(540) 891-3019

5.0 Approval and Revision Dates

Approved by President’s Council January 31, 2020

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