Animals

In general, animals are not allowed in Metropolitan State University buildings or vehicles with some exceptions, such as service animals, service animals in training and assistance animals determined to be a reasonable accommodation, among others. The following information is provided to help members of the University community and visitors understand the differences between various kinds of animals, where they are permitted and when they may be asked to be removed.

Service animals or service dogs

A service animal is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) as a dog or a miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Service animals may be trained by the individual with a disability or by a professional program.

Examples of work or tasks (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • A dog that is trained to alert an individual before a seizure and lead them to a safe space.
  • A dog that is trained to remind an individual to take medication.
  • A dog that is trained to pick up items.
  • A dog that is trained to guide a blind person.

Service dogs at Metropolitan State

Individuals with disabilities may be accompanied by their service animal on all areas of the University, unless the presence of the service dog would be a fundamental alteration of the program or service. Departments, instructors and employees should not determine a service dog is a fundamental alteration without consulting the Center for Accessibility Resources (CAR). The CAR does not need to approve service animals as a reasonable accommodation. Service animals are not required to wear or have an identification vest or harness.

Service animals (dogs) in training

Minnesota state law allows individuals with disabilities and trainers to take dogs being trained as service animals to public places for training purposes. This applies to the same extent as for animals that have already been trained.

Questions staff may ask

The University is only permitted to ask the following questions in order to determine if a dog is a service dog.

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

If the individual with the animal answers yes to the first question and also identifies the work or task(s) the dog has been trained to perform, no further inquiry should be made. If the individual answers no to the first question or does not identify the work or task(s) the dog has been trained to perform, the dog could be a service animal in training, assistance animal, therapy animal or pet. Please review the sections for each of these types of animals for additional information.

Assistance animal (a.k.a. companion, emotional support or comfort animal)

Assistance animals are a category of animal that may work, provide assistance or perform physical tasks for an individual with a disability and/or provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of the individuals's disability, but which are not considered service animals under the ADAAA. Note: Assistance animals may be any type of animal.

Examples of assistance animals include:

  • A cat that helps an individual with a disability feel more calm because of its presence.
  • A dog that helps an individual with a disability focus better when the individual pets it.

Students seeking to use assistance animals on campus must request this through the CAR and follow the reasonable accommodation process. Additional documentation will be required from a medical provider and veterinarian.

The CAR staff will make a determination on a case-by-case basis about whether or not the presence of the assistance animal is reasonable and may consider the following factors, among others:

  • The size of the animal and if it is too large for the space it will be present in.
  • The animal's vaccination history and current status.
  • If the animal's presence would impact another individual to such a degree they would not be able to participate (e.g. serious allergies).
  • If the animal causes or has caused excessive damages to property beyond reasonable wear and tear.
  • If the animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to individuals or other animals such as aggressive behavior or injuring an individual or other animal.

Disclosing information about assistance animals

As a part of the process for determining whether an assistance animal is reasonable, the CAR may disclose the request to individuals such as classmates and faculty who may be impacted by the presence of the assistance animal (e.g. animal allergies).

Additionally, if it is determined that it is reasonable for an individual to have an assistance animal as an accommodation, the CAR may disclose this information to others who may be impacted by the presence of the assistance animal. This information will be shared with the intent of preparing for the presence of the assistance animal or resolving any potential issues associated with the assistance animal.

Approved assistance animals are not required to wear an identification vest or harness.

If CAR finds the presence of an assistance animal reasonable in one location, this does not mean it is reasonable for an individual to take the animal to other University buildings/facilities, e.g. the Library, classrooms, or events.

See the section on Owner Responsibilities and Removal of Animals for more information.

Questions Staff May Ask:

If University staff have determined an animal is not a services animal or service animal in training, staff may ask the following question to determine if an animal is an assistance animal:

  1. Has CAR determined that this animal is an assistance animal that may be present as a reasonable accommodation?

If the student answers yes, University staff should not ask any further questions, but may contact CAR at  651-793-1549 to verify the information.  If the student answers no, this animal could be a therapy animal or pet.  Please review the sections on these animals for additional information.

 

Therapy Animal

A therapy animal (sometimes referred to as a program animal) can be any type of animal that has been screened to behave appropriately when interacting with people in places where pets are traditionally not allowed and whose participation in a University service program has been approved by a Department Head or Director. The owner/handler is not required to be disabled.

Examples

  • Programs for students to pet dogs or other animals during finals
  • Programs that allow people to pet a dog before getting a vaccine.
  • Therapy Animals on Campus

The presence of a therapy animal(s) at the Metropolitan State University must be approved by the Department Head or the Director of the unit that is hosting the program or event in which the therapy animal is involved. This approval does not extend to buildings or facilities that the Department Head or Director does not oversee.  Additional documentation may be requested before the animal is approved to be on campus (e.g. proof of liability insurance, vaccination records).

A therapy animal is not required to wear an identification vest or harness.

See the section on Owner Responsibilities and Removal of Animals for more information.

Question University Staff May Ask

If University staff have determined an animal is not a service animal, service animal in training, or assistance animal, staff may ask the following question to determine if an animal is a program animal:

  1. Has the presence of this animal and its participation in a service program been approved by a Department Head or Director? 

University staff may ask which Department Head has provided approval and contact the Department Head for verification. If an individual answers no, this animal is likely a pet. Review the pets section for additional information.

See the section on Owner Responsibilities and Removal of Animals for more information.

 

Pets

Definition - Any type of animal owned by an individual that is not a service animal, service animal in training, assistance animal, or therapy animal.

Examples

  • A dog being walked by his owner on the mall
  • A puppy being fostered by a student that may later be trained as a service animal

Pets at Metropolitan State University

Pets are only permitted in outdoor, public areas of Metropolitan State University. Pets are not permitted in buildings, facilities, state vehicles or at events.

See the section on Owner Responsibilities and Removal of Animals for more information.

Owner Responsibilities and Removal of Animals

The University is not responsible for the custody or care of a service dog, service dog in training, assistance animal, or program animal.

Owners/handlers must:

  • Be in control of their animals at all times, e.g. not allow the animal to run at large, bark, growl, snap, lunge, or bite.
  • Keep animals in a carrier or controlled by a leash or harness, with the following exceptions:  1) If an individual’s disability precludes the use of a restraint or 2) if a service dog needs to be off leash to do its job (e.g., a dog trained to enter a space to check if there are threats and then return and signal to an owner that it is safe to enter).
  • Clean up after and properly dispose of animal waste in a safe and sanitary manner.
  • Be responsible for the cost of any damages caused by the animal.
  • Follow city, county, and state ordinances/laws or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals.

Owners/handlers may be required to follow additional requirements in particular settings, e.g., University classrooms, or the work environment.

University staff may ask that animals be removed from campus under the following circumstances:

  • The animal is in a University building and does not meet the definition of a service dog, service dog in training, assistance animal, or program animal.
  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or causes substantial property damage.
  • The animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the University community.
  • The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a University program.
  • An owner/handler does not comply with the responsibilities listed above.

Depending on the circumstances, an animal may be excluded from campus on a permanent basis.

For service dogs, unless there is a threat to health or safety, University staff should provide the individual an opportunity to bring the dog under control. For more information about service dogs or assistance animals, please contact the CAR at 651-793-1549.

If an owner/handler refuses to remove an animal from a University building or authorized event, University staff may request assistance from the building manager or the individual(s) in charge of the event.

If there is an issue concerning safety due to an animal, contact Metropolitan State University Security at 651-793-1717.

If an individual believes the removal or exclusion of a service dog or assistance animal was in violation of the ADAAA or other law/policy, they may contact the University’s ADA/504 Compliance Officer to review that decision or file a complaint with the University’s Office of Diversity and Equity, 651-793-1272.