Office of Disability Services


Service Animals

General Policy and Description
Definitions and Terminology
Therapy/Companion/Emotional Support Animals
Documentation Requirements
Animal Licensing
Animal Health
Animal Training
Animal Identification
Owner Responsibilities
Restricted Areas
Emergency Situations
Conflicting Disabilities
Public Behavior of the Animal
Animal Cleanliness
Animal "Personal" Hygiene
Campus Etiquette
Consequences for Behavior
Exclusion from Campus
Appeals Procedure
Resources Cited

General Policy and Description

Federal and PA state laws prohibit discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Sec. 36.302 © (1), requires that a public accommodation modify its policies, practices and procedures to permit the use of a Service Animal by an individual with a disability in any area open to the general public.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Department of Justice have established two training requirements for an animal to be considered a Service Animal.
#1 The Service Animal must be individually trained to perform tasks or work for the benefit of a disabled individual.
#2 The Service Animal must be trained to behave properly in places of public accommodation.

Muhlenberg College recognizes that Service Animals can play an important role in facilitating the independence of individuals with certain types of disabilities. Allowing individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their appropriately trained and registered Service Animal in campus facilities where animals are typically prohibited, is a reasonable modification of general Muhlenberg policies and practices concerning animals on campus. The health and safety of Muhlenberg College students, faculty, staff, as well as the Service Animal is important. Therefore, only Service Animals that meet the criteria described in this policy will be exempt from the rules that otherwise restrict or prohibit animals.

Students registered with the Office of Disability Services may have Service Animals reside with them for documented needs and must comply with the "Muhlenberg College Service Animal Policy". The exception to the Muhlenberg College Pet Policy is granted for approved animals provided that their behavior, noise, odor and waste do not exceed reasonable standards, and that these factors do not create unreasonable disruptions for dormitory residents and the Residential Services staff.


A student with a disability who registers the intent to bring a Service Animal on campus should be directed to the Office of Disability Services. The student and the Director of the Office of Disability Services will initiate the Disability Determination Process including specific components related to Service Animals:

1. Student must present current documentation of disability including statements from the medical provider/diagnostician which describes the criteria used to assess the impact of the disability.

2. Documentation used for disability determination and accommodation development must include specific recommendations for Service Animal use.

3. Discussion of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services that can be provided to meet the student’s educational goals first must be considered without the Service Animal in use.

4. Determine if the Service Animal is necessary for the student to have equal access to programs at the College to complete his/her education.

5. Consult a team of College personnel designated to discuss or address any extenuating circumstances or make decisions that may be related to the request for a Service Animal on campus. The team may include the Directors of the Office of Disability Services, Health Services, Counseling Services, Residential Services, Campus Safety, and other appropriate campus officials as warranted and appropriate.

For practical purposes, students with disabilities who use Service Animals are encouraged to identify the working status of the animal with a harness, cape, identification tag that readily identifies its working status. Members of the campus community are reminded that Service Animals are not pets, and interference with a Service Animal is a crime under Pennsylvania law.


Therapy/Companion/Emotional Support Animals

A Therapy/Companion/Emotional Support Animal is an animal selected to play an integral part of a person's treatment process and goals. These animals are prescribed by a healthcare or mental health professional to an individual for their calming influence, affection, stability or feeling of security.

Therapy/Companion/Emotional Support Animals are not trained to assist an individual with a disability in the Activities of Daily Living and are therefore, NOT considered Service Animals under the criteria established by the ADA and do not qualify for the same legal protection. Muhlenberg College, is aware of the importance of remaining current with the law(s) regarding admission of therapy animals on college campuses. Every attempt will be made to keep college policies formulated to coincide with any changes that may occur in the law. No requests to use a Therapy/Companion/Emotional Support Animal on campus are accepted at this time.

Documentation Requirements

Students must provide appropriate documentation of their disability that clearly and explicitly explains the need for a Service Animal and its specific functions. This documentation must be submitted to the Office of Disability Services at least two weeks in advance in order to process the application and to make appropriate plans to meet the student/animal needs. Additionally, students requiring a Service Animal who plan to reside in the Residence Halls must submit a Service Animal Registration Form and a completed Roommate/Suitemate Agreement.

Faculty should provide their documentation to the Human Resources Office.

Visitors need not submit documentation, but must follow the Muhlenberg College Service Animal Policy. Visitors should report to the Campus Safety Office who will provide them with a copy of the Policy.

Animal Licensing

All animals must meet license requirements of the City of Allentown or the town of the animal’s residence (as long as similar requirements are met) and wear the designated licensing tags. Records are to be maintained by the Office of Disability Services, Residential Services and/or Campus Safety.


The Service Animal must be clean and in good health. Measures should be taken at all times for flea and odor control. Consideration of others must be taken into account when providing maintenance and hygiene of Service Animals. All Approved Service Animals must have all veterinarian recommended vaccinations to maintain the animal's health and prevent contagious diseases. Documentation of vaccinations is due at the time the individual with a disability makes application to the Office of Disability Services to keep a Service Animal on campus. The College reserves the right to request an updated verification at anytime during the animal's residency. If state or local licenses are required for the Service Animal, they must be obtained and kept current in compliance with the local jurisdiction (i.e. dog license) requirements and must wear license tags at all times.


If the Service Animal has received training from a recognized Service Animal training organization, this verification should be provided to the Office of Disability Services.


It is recommended that the Service Animal wear some type of easily recognized identification symbol (i.e., harness, backpack) designating it as a Service Animal.

Owner Responsibilities

It is the owner’s/handler’s responsibility to ensure the safety of a Service Animal. While legal access rights are afforded users of assistance animals, with that comes the responsibility of ensuring that the animal behaves and responds appropriately at all times in public and that the animal and the owner/handler adhere to the same socially accepted standards as any individual in the College community.
checkmarkThe owner /handler must register their Approved Animal with the Office of Disability Services by completing and signing the Service Animal Registration Form and providing all necessary documentation. checkmarkThe care, feeding, and supervision of a Service Animal is the sole responsibility of the owner/handler.
checkmarkThe owner/handler is responsible to designate an alternative caregiver for the animal if the owner/handler becomes ill or unavailable
checkmarkThe owner/handler is responsible for assuring that the Service Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence hall or cause difficulties for students who reside there.
checkmarkSensitivity to residents with allergies and to those who fear animals is important to ensure the peace of the residential community.
checkmark The Service Animal must be contained within the private residential area (room, suite, apartment, enclosed balcony or yard spaces) at all times, except when transported outside the private residential area in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness. The owner/handler must be in full control of the animal when it is working.
checkmarkShould the Service Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the owner/handler is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract. The owner/handler must notify the Director of the Office of Disability Services and the Director/Associate of Residential Services in writing if the Service Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. To replace an approved Service Animal the owner must file a new Request for Exception.
checkmarkThe owner/handler is financially responsible for the actions of the Service Animal including bodily injury or property damage including but not limited to any replacement of furniture, carpet, window or wall covering, etc. The owner is responsible for any expenses that are required due to costs incurred for cleaning which is above and beyond a normal cleaning or for repairs to College premises that are assessed after vacating the residence. Muhlenberg College shall have the right to bill the owner for unmet obligations.
checkmarkAny violation of the above rules may result in immediate removal of the animal from the College and may be reviewed through the Judicial Process


Restricted Areas

Muhlenberg College has designated specific areas as off-limits to all animals due to health and safety concerns. These areas include, but are not limited to, research laboratories, areas where protective clothing is necessary, mechanical rooms, custodial closets, and other areas where the animal's presence would present a danger to the animal's health or safety or the health or safety of others in the area. Exceptions would have to be made on a case-by-case basis. If it is determined that an area is unsafe, reasonable accommodations will be provided to assure equal access to the student.

Emergency Situations

In the event of an emergency, emergency responders who respond should be trained to recognize Service Animals and to be aware that the animal may be trying to communicate the need for help. During emergencies, the animal may become disoriented or agitated from the smell or smoke in a fire, from sirens or wind noise, or from shaking and moving ground. The owner/handler and/or Animal may be confused by the stress of a particular situation. The emergency responder should be aware that the animal is trying to be protective of its owner/handler and may react defensively. The emergency responder should make every reasonable effort to keep the animal with its owner/handler. However, the emergency responder’s first effort should be toward the owner/handler and this may necessitate leaving an animal behind in certain emergency evacuation situations.

Conflicting Disabilities

Muhlenberg College is aware that persons at the College may have a condition or disability that precipitates an allergic reaction to animals. Persons who have asthma/allergy/medical issues with the animal are to be directed to make their complaint to the Office of Disability Services and Health Services. The person making the complaint must provide verifiable medical documentation to support their claim. Action will be taken to consider the needs of both persons to resolve the problem as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Public Behavior of the Animal

The health and safety of other students, faculty and staff may also be taken into consideration. Every attempt will be made to insure that neither the student with a Service Animal or others on campus will be negatively impacted by the presence of the animal in class or other areas on campus. The Service Animal:
checkmarkmust not be allowed to sniff people, store shelves, dining tables or the personal belongings of others.
checkmarkmust never be more than 12 inches from the owner/handler’s leg or side of the chair.
checkmarkmust be trained not be attracted to food that may be in close proximity.
checkmarkmust not initiate contact with someone without the owner/handler’s direct permission.
checkmarkmust not display any behaviors or noises that are disruptive to others, such as barking, whining, growling, “personal grooming” behavior, or physically rubbing against people while waiting in lines. This includes aggressive behaviors.

Animal Cleanliness

The owner/handler will be responsible for providing appropriate bedding for the Service Animal. This will allow the Service Animal to have a comfortable place of its own when not on duty, and reduces the risks of infestation in other areas.

The owner/handler is responsible for taking preventative measures for flea and odor control. The team should be sensitive to the residential community where other people may be impacted by the presence of a Service Animal. The owner/handler must see that the Service Animal is bathed on a regular basis. Residence hall bathrooms may be used for this purpose. The Resident Advisor of that floor should notify Residential Services Housekeeping Services on days the Service Animal has been washed to ensure that any remaining dirt or animal hair gets cleaned up in a timely manner.

The owner/handler's residence may be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests once per semester or as needed. The Housing staff will schedule the inspection, normally done during routine health and safety inspections. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a college-approved pest control service. The owner/handler will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond normal required pest management.

Animal “Personal” Hygiene

Relief areas for Service Animals are designated throughout the campus. The owner/handler should utilized these areas and clean up after the animal. Locations of relief areas are included in the mobility and orientation of new students, staff and faculty to the campus. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the Animal’s needs to relieve itself and respond accordingly. In the event that the owner/handler does not get the animal to the designated relief area, it is their responsibility to remove and properly dispose of any waste.


Campus Etiquette

checkmarkIndoor animal waste, such as cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and tied securely before being disposed of in outside trash dumpsters. Litter boxes should be placed on mats so that feces and urine are not tracked onto carpeted surfaces.
checkmarkOutdoor animal waste, such as dog feces, must be immediately retrieved by owner, placed in a plastic bag and securely tied before being disposed of in outside trash dumpsters.

Service Animals are working companions and are not considered pets. Students and campus personnel should not:
checkmarkprevent a Service Animal from accompanying its owner/handler at any time and anywhere on campus except where specifically prohibited.
checkmarkpet, feed, or otherwise distract a Service Animal
checkmarkstartle, tease, or taunt the Animal
checkmarkattempt to separate the animal from its owner/handler Do not hesitate to ask the owner/handler if he/she would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction to turn or unable to locate an entrance or elevator.

Consequences for Behavior

If a Service Animal is determined to be in violation of any of the above behaviors, the infraction will be treated on an individual basis through the Office of the Dean of Students, Residential Services, and the Office of Disability Services. If the animal poses a threat to the safety of others, Public Safety will be part of the collaborative team to determine the outcome of the behavior. Consequences may include, but are not limited to, mandating a refresher training for the animal and its owner/handler, or excluding the Animal from College facilities.

Exclusion from Campus

A Service Animal may be excluded from the College’s premises or specific areas of the College for the following reasons:
checkmarkThe Animal’s behavior is disruptive, not controlled and the owner does not take effective corrective action. (Disruptive behavior may include: barking, whining, growling, wandering, sniffing (people, tables in eating area, other’s belongings), initiation contact with someone without owner/handler’s permission.)
checkmarkThe Animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. checkmarkAnimal illness
checkmarkHygiene – dirty, strong odor, not groomed, evidence of having fleas, ticks, etc.
checkmarkAnimal is not on a leash.
checkmarkAggressive behavior

Although the College may exclude a Service Animal that is out of control or a direct threat to the health and safety of others, the individual with a disability who uses the Service Animal will be given the option of continuing to utilize or participate in College services without having the Service Animal on the premises. If an individual with a disability questions the exclusion of his/her Service Animal, he/she should be offered the opportunity to address any questions or concerns with the aforementioned team of College personnel.

Appeals Procedure

Appeals should be submitted to the Office of Disability Services. The Office of Disability Services will form an ad hoc committee to discuss and resolve the issue(s). The ad hoc committee will be comprised of key representatives from Muhlenberg College Departments and other appropriate personnel.  

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