Assistance Animals

University Policy on Assistance Animals and Pets

The Ohio State University and Wexner Medical Center have a general “no pets” policy in all of its buildings. Pets are allowed on the grounds when leashed and under control. Service Animals are generally allowed to accompany their handlers in any building or public space where their handlers are permitted. Emotional Support and Visiting Therapy animals may be allowed in specified areas of the University and Wexner Medical Center with advanced approval. All animals are the responsibility of their handlers and should be under their control, house broken, in proximity to the handler and responsive to commands, in harness, on a three-foot lead, or in a carrier, not exploring others or the environment, and not disruptive. An animal’s behavior is considered the handler’s behavior; the animal will be held to the same basic standard of conduct as their handlers. If they are disruptive to university business or community behavioral expectations for educational, medical and residential environments handlers may be asked to correct the animal’s behavior or remove it from the environment. Assistance animals are the general term that incorporate service animals and emotional support animals.

Definitions and Additional Information


Assistance Animals

Assistance animals include those that provide active support (i.e., Service Animals), as well as those that provide passive support. Animals providing these passive services are generally referred to as Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), and they can help to alleviate or partially mitigate an impact of a disability, which can allow that individual to benefit from OSU’s programs and services.​ Listed below are the types and definitions for each category of Assistance Animal.
 

Service Animals

Service Animals perform tasks directly related to the individual's disability (e.g., psychiatric, cognitive, mental, communication, physical and sensory disabilities), and are generally allowed to access anywhere their handlers are permitted on campus (exceptions may exist in sterile environments and areas requiring protective equipment or clothing for access). Under the American's with Disabilities Act, only dogs and miniature horses are protected Service Animals. Some examples of work tasks of a Service Animal include: 

  • Guide
  • Retrieve
  • Assist
  • Alert
  • Prevent/interrupt behavior
     
Service Animals in Training

Service Animals in Training are not recognized by federal law but are recognized by Ohio Revised Code 955.43. However, puppy rearing (for dogs under six months of age) focused on socialization is general obedience training is not typically considered to be in training. Service Animals in Training must have a liability insurance policy provided by the nonprofit agency sponsoring the training and be engaged in learning service tasks.
 

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) provide passive support that partially alleviate the impact of a disability, but they do not have the same access rights as Service Animals. Use of an ESA on campus is a potentially reasonable accommodation to No Pet Policies in some circumstances. 
 

Visiting Therapy Animals

In the company of their handlers, Visiting Therapy Animals have been trained to make wellness, stress-reduction or therapeutic short-term visits to members of the University community on a transient basis in specific locations. Visiting Therapy Animals may be allowed access to specific facilities with permission from the program/office occupying the facilities.

If the function of a Service Animal is not readily apparent, you can ask the following questions:

  1. Is this a Service Animal required for a disability?
  2. What work or task is this animal trained to perform?

Note, you are are allowed to follow up on ambiguous responses.  

At the university or Medical Center, if the handler discloses that the animal is an ESA you can also ask if they have received permission for Student Life Disability Services or the ADA Coordinator's Office. 

You cannot ask about their disability or for documentation. Under the ADA, Service Animals are protected and do not need documentation for access.


If there is a behavioral problem with the animal, you should first ask the handler the two allowable questions. If it is a Service Animal and there are behavioral issues, you may then ask the handler to correct the behavior. If this does not improve, you may ask that the animal be removed from the facility. 
 

Basis for denial or exclusion of Assistance Animals:
  • Direct Threat
    • Individualized assessment based on recent credible, objective evidence relating to specific animal.
    • Unit/Service specific evidence based assessment of health risks based on credible objective sources.
  • Lack of Control
    • Violation of reasonable codes behavior by the either animal or human partner. 
  • Inability to Provide or Arrange Care
    • Covered entity is not responsible for care or supervision of a service animal.
  • Insufficient Documentation of Disability or Extenuating Circumstances Related to Location
    • If the request is made in a location that could lead to zoonosis. 
    • If the request is made in a location that requires maintaining a sterile field.
    • If presence of the animal demonstrates behavioral concerns.

Denial of a request for an Emotional Support Animal may also be based on insufficient documentation of disability or of the need for an emotional support animal as an accommodation in the context requested.

Emotional Support Animals provide passive support that partially ameliorates the impact of a disability. Use of an ESA on campus is a potentially reasonable accommodation to No Pet Policies in some circumstances. Note that ESAs do not receive the same protections as Service Animals.
 

Documentation needed for ESAs

While there is no recognized central registry, license, ID or vest, in order to have an ESA as an accommodation in you will need documentation from an appropriate healthcare professional that:

  1. Identifies you and states that you have a disability.
  2. Describes the animal; and affirms that having the animal described alleviates identified impacts of your disability or serves a defined role in treatment.
  3. Identifies the university services, programs or facilities you will be participating in where having direct access to the animal is necessary to effectively benefit from the identified services, programs or facilities.
  4. Affirms having the animal is necessary to effectively benefit from identified services, programs or facilities.

Consider bringing a copy of the ESA Documentation Guidance to share with your healthcare provider.
 

Requesting ESA as an Accommodation at OSU and Medical Center

If you are a student living in the on campus residential communities, you will need to connect with Disability Services to get your request for an ESA approved. They will also help you make arrangements with Housing for an ESA in the residence halls. You can contact them by email at slds@osu.edu or phone at 614-292-3307.

Requests for pre-approval to bring your ESA to a space other than your residence or university grounds as an accommodation can be directed to Disability Services (slds@osu.edu). University employees and patients or visitors of the Medical Center can direct their requests for pre-approval to ada-osu@osu.edu or 614-292-6207.

Denial of a request for an ESA may also be based on insufficient documentation of disability or of the need for an emotional support animal as an accommodation in the context requested.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and healthcare experts such as the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee have noted:

  • No evidence suggests that animals pose a more significant risk of transmitting infection than people; therefore, Service Animals should not be excluded from such areas, unless an individual patient’s situation or a particular animal poses greater risk that cannot be mitigated through reasonable measures.
  • If health-care personnel, visitors, and patients are permitted to enter care areas (e.g., inpatient rooms, some ICUs, and public areas) without taking additional precautions to prevent transmission of infectious agents (e.g., donning gloves, gowns, or masks), a clean, healthy, well behaved Service Animal should be allowed access with its handler. 
  • If immunocompromised patients are able to receive visitors without using protective garments or equipment, an exclusion of Service Animals from this area would not be justified.

For questions or comments please contact the ADA Office at ada-osu@osu.edu
 

Visiting Therapy Animals

In the company of their handlers, Visiting Therapy Animals have been trained to make wellness, stress-reduction or therapeutic short-term visits to members of the University community on a transient basis in specific locations. Visiting Therapy Animals may be allowed access to specific facilities with permission from the program/office occupying the facilities.

For more information and resources about Visiting Therapy Animals, check out the Wexner Medical Center’s Pet Pals program. 
 

Emotional Support Animals

Pre-approval from the ADA Coordinator's Office is required to bring an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to any University medical facility. Please contact the ADA office at ada-osu@osu.edu or 614-292-6207.

Guide dogs are the guiding eyes for people who are blind or visually impaired, and they are specially bred and trained for this most important job. There are several guidelines people must follow when in the presence of a guide dog to allow for the safety of the dog and its handler. Disregarding these guidelines can distract the dog, which can create a dangerous situation for the dog and its handler.

  1. Do not pet, talk to, feed or otherwise distract the dog while he is wearing his harness without the handler’s permission. Do allow the dog to concentrate and perform for the safety of his or her handler. 
  2. Some handler’s allow petting, but always ask the handler first. Do not pat the Guide Dog on the head. Stroke the dog on the shoulder area but only with it's handler's approval.
  3. Do not give the Guide Dog commands.  Allow his or her handler to do so.
  4. Speak to the person, not the Guide Dog. 
  5. Do not try to take control in situations unfamiliar to the dog or handler.  Assist the handler upon his or her request.  Do not grab the harness or leash from the handler, you could confuse or disorient the team.  If the handler looks like he or she needs help, offer your assistance and take your cue from their response. 
  6. Do not walk on the dog's left side as he may become distracted or confused.  Walk on the handler's right side but several paces behind him or her.
  7. Do not attempt to grab or steer the handler while the dog is guiding him or her Ask if the handler needs your assistance and, if so, offer your left arm.
  8. Do not give the Guide Dog treats or table scraps without the handler’s permission.  Respect the handler's need to give the dog a balanced diet and to maintain its good habits.
  9. Allow the Guide Dog to rest undisturbed, a Guide Dog in harness is “on duty”  even when sitting or lying down.
  10. Give the Guide Dog respect as a working dog; do not treat him or her as a pet.

 

Resources:  www.guidedog.org ; www.guidedogsofamerica.org