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Service and Assistance Animal Policy

Wheaton College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and to making reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, or procedures as required by law to afford people with disabilities an equal opportunity to access programs, services and activities. The Learning and Accessibility Services (LAS) Office is responsible for the approval of Service and Assistance Animals.

I. Definitions

Service Animals
Service Animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. Examples of such tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs for those with limited mobility, and alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure. Animals other than dogs or, in some cases, miniature horses, are not Service Animals. The work or task that a Service Animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Assistance Animals
Assistance Animals are animals that provide emotional or other support that decreases one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Unlike Service Animals, Assistance Animals are not required to be trained to perform work or tasks, nor do they accompany a person with a disability at all times.

A “pet” is an animal kept for ordinary use or companionship. Service and Assistance Animals, as defined above, are not considered pets. Pets are prohibited indoors and in university housing with the exception of aquatic species that live under water in standard size aquariums. For more information, please refer to the Animals/Pets in Campus Housing policy in the Student Handbook.

Approved Animal
An Approved Animal is a Service or Assistance Animal that has been approved by LAS as a reasonable accommodation under this Policy.

An Owner is an individual with a disability who has requested an accommodation and has received approval to bring the approved animal on college property.

II. Access to Campus for Service and Assistance Animals

In order for an individual to qualify for having a Service Animal on campus: 1) s/he must have a disability as defined by the ADA, and 2) the accompanying animal must be trained to do work or specific tasks for the qualified individual. Service Animals are permitted to accompany people with disabilities to public areas of campus and owners are not required to provide certification that the animal has been trained or licensed or make a formal request for an accommodation. Faculty or staff members with questions may contact LAS at las@wheaton.edu or 630.752.5615.

Service Animals are permitted to accompany individuals with disabilities in all public areas of campus, but may be prohibited in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions (e.g., where the animal may be in danger, or where its use may compromise research). Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, rooms with heavy machinery, and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to animals. Service Animals may be granted access to restricted areas on a case-by-case basis by gaining approval from LAS and the appropriate department representative.

In contrast, Assistance Animals are only permitted in and around the Owner’s campus housing as set forth below. Owners may request approval from the LAS Office to have the Assistance Animal accompany them to other campus areas. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis consistent with applicable laws.

III. Service and Assistance Animals in Campus Housing

Before a Service or Assistance Animal can move into campus housing with a person with a disability, a request must be submitted to Wheaton’s LAS Office and approval must be granted (Requests should be made at least 30 days prior to move-in whenever possible as late requests may impact the timeliness of the approval process). As provided in the Animals/Pets in Campus Housing Policy, the fine for an unauthorized animal in campus housing is $50 per day.

If the disability is not obvious, the LAS Office may require documentation from a licensed physician or mental health provider (must be a non-family member) including but not limited to a qualified psychiatrist, social worker or other mental health professional, to provide sufficient information for Wheaton to determine:

  • That the individual qualifies as a person with a disability (i.e. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities); and
  • That the Service or Assistance Animal is necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing (i.e. that the animal would provide emotional support or other assistance that would alleviate one or more symptoms or effects of the disability).

Special Rules for Assistance Animals
Assistance Animals are not allowed to accompany persons with disabilities in all public areas of Wheaton campus as a Service Animal is allowed to do, but an Assistance Animal may reside in campus housing, including accompanying such individual in all public or common areas of campus housing, when it may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing.

IV. Service and Assistance Animal Approval Process

Student requests for Service and Assistance Animals must be made to the Director of LAS by sending an e-mail to las@wheaton.edu or calling 630.752.5615. Documentation may be requested as outlined in this Policy.

A staff member in the LAS Office has discretion to speak directly with the roommates or students in neighboring rooms prior to the approval of a Service or Assistance Animal to determine if allergies, phobias, or other health concerns are present. No information regarding the diagnosis or nature of the disability will be shared. If approval is granted to have a Service or Assistance Animal, the LAS Office has discretion to speak directly with the roommates or students in neighboring rooms after approval to ensure the arrangement is effective and not disruptive to the living and learning experiences of others.

If a student wishes to seek review of a determination made under this Policy, please see our LAS Grievance Policy.

V. Care and Control

The Owner is responsible for the cost, care, and supervision of Service and Assistance Animals. Wheaton College is not responsible for the care or supervision of Service or Assistance Animals. Roommates and student neighbors are not responsible for the care or supervision of Service or Assistance Animals.

Owners who are accompanied by Assistance Animals must comply with the same college rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness as people without disabilities.

The following guidelines for Service and Assistance Animals are intended to ensure that the animal does not engage in behavior that would be disruptive or a direct threat to the health and safety of others. If the animal’s behavior is disruptive, aggressive, or destructive, the handler will be held responsible and may be asked to remove the animal from campus.

Guidelines for Service and Assistance Animals on campus:

  • Animals must be controlled by Owner at all times.
    • Animals who are in public spaces on campus must be on a leash at all times unless a leash would negatively impact the ability of the animal to complete the task/service for which it is being utilized.
    • Animals in common areas of campus residences may be required to be on a leash, harness, or in a carrier.
    • Animals may not disrupt the environment by barking, meowing, scratching, screeching, or growling.
    • Arrangements must be made to remove the animal from campus during breaks and any other time when the Owner is off-campus overnight.
  • Animals must be in good health.
    • Animals must be properly vaccinated; vaccinations must be current. Documentation may be required.
    • Animals must be maintained in a manner that takes into consideration the health and hygiene of the animal and those who come in contact with the animal.
  • To the greatest extent possible, the animal should be unobtrusive to other students and the learning environment.
  • Wheaton will not require any deposits, surcharges, or fees for Service or Assistance Animals. However, an Owner may be charged for damage caused by a Service or Assistance Animal to the same extent that Wheaton would normally charge a person for the damage they cause or if the room requires additional cleaning beyond standard yearly institutional cleaning procedures. Examples of reasons for additional cleaning may include but are not limited to: residue of animal waste on the floor, urine or animal smell in the apartment, and excessive fur/animal hair within the apartment.
  • The Owner is responsible for complying with the DuPage County/City of Wheaton dog control and licensing laws or any other applicable laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination, identification, or animal rights and owner responsibilities.
  • Relief Guidelines
    • Service and Assistance Animals must be housebroken before arriving on campus.
    • The Owner is responsible for cleaning up all animal waste and disposing of that waste immediately in outdoor dumpsters. Animal waste is not to be disposed of indoors.

VI. Conflicting or Competing Accommodations

If another student, staff, or faculty member has a severe allergy around animal dander or a phobia to the type of animal being approved, the final determination will be considered on a case-by-case basis and attempts will be made to accommodate the needs of both individuals to the fullest extent possible.

VII. Responsibilities of the Campus Community

  • Must allow Service animals to accompany their Owners at all times and everywhere on campus where the general public are allowed.
  • As noted above, the appropriate way to ascertain that an animal is a Service Animal is to ask (only if it is not apparent) if the animal is required because of a disability and what tasks it has been trained to perform. Specific questions about the individual’s disability should not be asked.
  • Contact LAS if any questions or concerns arise relating to Service or Assistance Animals.
  • Contact LAS Office if students/faculty/staff have any additional questions regarding visitors to campus who have animals.
  • Report any animals who misbehave or any Owners (or other individuals) who mistreat Service or Assistance Animals to the Wheaton Public Safety at 630.752.5911 or 911 from campus phones.

VIII. Appeal Process

If an individual believes that a request for a reasonable accommodation related to the use of a Service or Assistance Animal on campus has been wrongfully denied, the individual can refer to the LAS Grievance Policy for procedures to appeal the decision.