Drawing the line for service animals

College adjusts policy regarding pets on campus

By Farhin Lilywala

Walking around campus, you may have noticed a few furry friends amongst us. Here’s the secret: they’re not just pets, they are service animals.

In March 2013, an “Animals on Campus Policy” was placed into effect, an official alternative to the once unwritten rule that animals were not allowed indoors on campus without special permission.

After two separate incidents, according to Greg Russell, interim police chief, with employees bringing their pets to the college, the police department, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel and Student Access Services, created this new bylaw. This policy applies to all students, employees and visitors.

“We had to make sure that it was in compliance with the school’s policy,” Russell said.

The clauses of this policy include requirements such as keep your pet on a leash, make sure he/she has all proper vaccinations, and cleaning up after the animal under all circumstances. Also, service animals cannot be left unattended at any time.

“Taking care of the animal or restricting the animal to a certain area would go against the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Russell said. “Therefore, it is something that we would not even entertain.”

The policy also elaborates that animals are not permitted in college buildings, unless the service animal is assisting a disabled individual, accompanied by a qualified handler or trainer, used for authorized research projects or experiments, or part of an academic program.

“In alignment with the recent policy, every dog should be under the control of the handler, especially those dogs that have the predisposition to be aggressive,” said Julie Pitts, program director, International and Immigrant Students, who has a service dog. “My service animal needs to respond to me even while let go for toileting.”

As far as the process to bring a service animal on campus, Russell and Pitts agreed there is no formal procedure or application. However, these animals must meet certain requirements.

The basic campus requirements are outlined by the policy and tested by service animal certification agencies. Once the animal has completed certain activities, the agency will vouch that the public and the owner are safe from the animal.

“Activities include downstay, when a dog must stay still while a person walks over him without being able to see you, and maneuvering on command on all sides of you and around obstacles,” Pitts said.

Although there is not an official manner to keep track of the number of animals in the system, if the college has reasonable doubt that the animal is not a service animal, it may ask the owner if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

However, service animals have also been requested by those seeking psychological comfort.

“That doesn’t fall under anything that is within the policy, as these service animals are trained, so that is something that we cannot approve,” Russell said.

According to Russell, the safety of all humans and animals on campus alike is a priority for the Campus Police.

If you see an animal on campus that seems to be mistreated or a danger to others, contact the JCCC Police Department at 913-469-8500 ext. 4111 for emergencies or ext. 4112 for non-emergencies.

Contact Farhin Lilywala, news editor, flilywal@jccc.edu.

The Campus Ledger

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