Access for All: Service Animal Policies
The University of Florida allows the use of trained service animals by individuals with disabilities in all public areas.
Service animals are defined by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, on March 15, 2011, as dogs 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 or equipment for someone with a mobility disability
- alerting or protecting a person who is having a seizure
- reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medicine
- calming a person with PTSD
- performing other duties
In addition to dogs, the ADA now has separate regulations about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
The regulations set forth for miniature horses are as follow:
- 24-34 inches high and generally between 70-100 lbs.
- under the owner’s control
- Whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse type, size, and weight
- Whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for the safe operation of the facility.
Service animals are working animals, not pets. An animal whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support does not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Inquiring About Service Animals
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Authorized UF personnel (full-time UF employees designated as the person in charge of the event, activity, or facility) may ask two questions:
- Is the service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task is the animal trained to perform?
The ADA requires that service animals be under the control of the handler at all times and be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless these devices interfere with the services animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents them from using these devices.
There are restrictions to inquiries. Certain questions are intrusive and violate a person’s right to privacy.
- Do not ask the person about their disability or medical condition.
- Do not ask the person for medical documentation. The dog does not require any training documentation.
- Do not ask that the dog or miniature horse demonstrate the task or work.
At the University of Florida, we take the person at their word that the animal is a service animal and trained to do a task.
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his/her dog or horse from the premises unless:
- The dog or horse is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it.
- The dog or horse is not housebroken.
Service Dogs in Training
Florida State Statute 413.08 (8) provides the same protections to the service dog in training and trainer and both are allowed in all public spaces within the University of Florida.
The service dog in training shall:
- be identified with a vest or other marker that clearly identifies the dog as a service dog in training, unlike trained service dogs
- behave, and remain under the control of the handler at all times (on leash or harness)
Service Animals in Campus Housing
For students who want to bring a service animal or an emotional support animal to live with them in UF campus housing, please visit the Housing and Residence Life website for the procedure and additional information.
Please note: Emotional support animals are allowed in campus residence halls only, and not in other campus facilities. Only trained service animals are allowed in campus buildings.
Direct all questions to Dr. Russ Froman, UF Office for Accessibility and Gender Equity, (352) 273-1094.
ADA National Network Resources
The ADA National Network has a wealth of resources regarding service animals and emotional support animals. Visit the link below to access these resources.