Fish, dogs, cats, birds, horses, and even reptiles are some of the common animals domesticated as pets and great human companions. They not only entertain and comfort humans but also help keep a man’s mental and physical health in place. And that is why there are schools that offer students the chance to adopt campus pets during the semester. But, like taking care of a baby, having animals and pets on campus requires great responsibility to be maintained. And that’s when policies come in, precisely one that aims to inform everyone of how to handle the school’s service animals.
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What Is a Service Animals on Campus Policy?
A service animals on campus policy is a set of rules that dictates and specifies what students, teachers, and everyone in the school campus must do when handling and being near service animals. The policy’s purpose is to inform and protect the animal handlers and ensure the safety of the trained service animals. Additionally, the policy will also state the limitations and liability that the handler needs to take note of along with the requirements to fulfill.
How to Establish a Service Animals on Campus Policy
According to the Invisible Disabilities Association, service animals help in assisting people with disabilities. Most often, legally blind individuals are the ones who get the approval to bring in service animals, especially dogs, to serve as their guide. But, the animals are not only limited to the handicapped and disabled, but also to those who need a comforting furry companion. That means all eligible students, teachers, and school employees can have a service animal. And also, it means the school needs a sustainable and well-structured policy about it. So, read on and follow the tips below as you begin establishing your school’s service animals on campus policy:
1. Know the State and Federal Laws
Ever encountered a landlord who would not allow tenants to bring in pets in the property? The reason for the prohibition is often due to either allergy, noise, and facility concerns. When it comes to schools, be it private or public institutions, some laws center on taking service animals on campus. In specific, there are two federal laws: ADA Title II and Section 504. Both laws provide information about how students can bring service animals for as long as it’s necessary. There’s also the Fair Housing Act, which is for those who want to bring the trained service animal inside college dormitories. Therefore, know your laws!
2. Identify the Purpose and Scope
Ask yourself why the school would need the policy, and is it necessary and useful. Also, determine how far and who will get affected by the policy when it gets implemented. Doing this will help you make specifics terms and conditions, rules, and regulations for your policy.
3. Define the Terms Well
Many words need to have a clarified definition, such as the terms partner, team, therapy, service animal, and pet. For you to present their meanings well, you should have a definition of terms section in the policy. Placing it as part of the first page will help ensure that the target readers understand the statements in the policies easily and accurately.
4. List the Requirements
Not all students, teachers, and school staff or employees can bring or have a service animal. So, to make sure that everyone will know and determine whether they’re eligible or not, list the requirements in the policy. It must include the types of documents and legal forms to submit, such as an animal report, vaccination reports, and a city license.
5. State the Limitations and Termination Rules
Dogs bark, cats meow, birds chirp, and horses neigh. With that in mind, some animal sounds may be comforting to its handler, but distracting to others. That’s why in your policy, you should state the limitations and termination rules and regulations. One of the most common would be the termination of the animal when it’s disrupting the class, when it’s ill, and when it has an unruly behavior. Specifying the limitations and termination rules helps make sure that the handler will be responsible and liable when bringing the animal to the school campus.
Who’s most eligible to take a service animal to school?
Anyone who needs the service animal’s assistance, specifically those who are blind, deaf, handicapped, and those dealing with mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD, are eligible. The type of service animal that one can bring depends on his needs. For instance, if the student is diagnosed with anxiety, then the service animal should be a trained pet who can provide comfort and tactile stimulation. On the one hand, blind students can have service animals trained to be familiar with the school campus and know particular words and commands.
Do I have to print out the service animal on campus policy?
It depends on what your school and you prefer. However, printing and posting the policy will allow you to reach more audiences and readers since you can post it to the school’s bulletin board. On the one hand, having the policy in PDF format can be a good choice when sending the policy via email to the students and teachers.
Do I need to include the steps or procedures to follow in getting a service animal in the policy?
Yes, you have to state the procedures; in specific, it should be placed along with the requirements. The procedure can include the physical and mental health disclosure and examination of the student, followed by the submission of a doctor’s note of recommendation. Then, the approval phase with the number of days of the estimation for when the verdict and decision of the school administration will be given to the requesting party.
Service animals are more than just fluffy and adorable companions, for they help keep an individual in need secured and safe. So, what are you waiting for? Download our sample forms and policy templates above now!
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