Service Animals

Ownership: Risk Management

Approved by: Vice Chancellor Administrative Services

Service Animal Procedure

Purpose:  Oakland Community College recognizes the importance of service animals to individuals with disabilities and has established the following guidelines for service animals to assist people with disabilities.  These guidelines adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as amended in 2010, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as applicable, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division's 2015 "Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals."  These guidelines  ensure that people with disabilities who require the use of service animals receive the benefit of the work or tasks performed by such animals.


OCC is committed to allowing people with disabilities the use of a service animal on campus to facilitate their full participation and equal access to the College's programs and activities.  Below are specific requirements and guidelines concerning the appropriate use of and protocols associated with service animals. OCC reserves the right to amend these guidelines as circumstances require.


Service Animal – A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.  Only dogs are recognized as service animals under Titles II and III of the ADA, beginning March 15, 2011.  This definition excludes all comfort, support, therapy, or companion animals, because they have not been trained to perform specific tasks directly related to the person's disability.

Service Animals-in-Training – Under ADA, a Service Animal-in-Training is not considered a service animal, but may be allowed on campus for training purposes as a service to the community.

Disruptive Service Animal – A disruptive service animal is one out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it.


Service animals have few restrictions on where they can go.  Thus, they are allowed to be in classrooms, hallways, restrooms, cafeterias, offices, etc. 

The handler is responsible for caring for and supervising the service animal, which includes toileting, feeding, and grooming and veterinary care. 

Service animals are subject to local municipal dog licensing and registration requirements. 

The service animal must be harnessed, leashed or tethered while in public places unless the devices interfere with the service animal's work or the person's disability prevents use of these devices. 

The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds that can be a service animal.  Municipalities that prohibit specific breeds of dogs must make an exception for service animals, unless it is determined on a case-by-case basis that the dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

If a particular service animal behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices or procedures or the provision of auxiliary aids or services, has a history of such behavior, or is not under the control of the handler, that animal may be excluded.  If there is a disruptive service animal, OCC personnel may request the dog be removed from the premises.  It would be appropriate to contact the Public Safety Department for this service.

The dog is not required to wear a vest, patch, or special harness identifying them as a service animal.

The ADA does not require covered entities to modify policies, practices, or procedures if it would "fundamentally alter" the nature of the goods, services, programs, or activities provided to the public, nor does it overrule legitimate safety requirements.   If admitting service animals would fundamentally alter the nature of a service or program, service animals may be prohibited.  In addition, if a particular service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, or if it is not housebroken, that animal may be excluded.

When it is not obvious that a dog is a service animal, per ADA rules only two questions can be asked to determine if a dog is a service animal.  They are:
1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff cannot request the dog demonstrate the task, ask about the nature of the disability, or compel the handler to register the dog or provide other documentation.

Service animals are subject to local municipal dog licensing and registration requirements.  Handlers, however, are not required to register service animals with the College in order to bring them on campus.  All employees are encouraged to inform visitors with service animals to voluntarily register with ACCESS.

When encountering a service dog, individuals should not pet the dog as it distracts the dog from its work.  Do not feed, deliberately startle, tease, or taunt the dog.  Do not separate or attempt to separate a person from their service dog.

If a service dog is disruptive, contact Public Safety.  If an instructor is concerned about the presence of a dog in their class that is not disruptive, they should contact ACCESS.

Persons with dog dander allergies who are negatively affected by the presence of a service dog should contact ACCESS or Human Resources to review reasonable accommodations and resolve any conflicts. 

If an individual believes they have been wrongfully denied access or service because they use a service animal, they may report it to Public Safety from any College phone at extension 5555 or outside phone at 248.858.4911. 

Individuals with concerns about potential discrimination may also contact the United States Department of Education, Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20202-1100.  Telephone: 800.421.3481; FAX: 202.453.6015; TDD: 800.877.8339; Email: or the United States Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section by email as or go to the ADA website.