Service Animals in Labs

All students with disabilities are encouraged to access the services available through the Disability Support Services (DSS); however, students who require a service animal are not required to contact DSS. This guidance is intended for instructional faculty teaching in laboratory areas and students who are service animal handlers utilizing these areas.

What is a service animal?

A service animal must be individually trained to perform a task, specifically related to the animal handler’s disability. There is no certification or identification that is needed, although identification through the use of a service animal vest is recommended. Confusion may arise related to service animals, often with regard to whether the animal is an emotional support animal or therapy animal. A service animal is not an emotional support animal or therapy animal. A service animal can only be a dog or miniature horse.

Information for Instructional Faculty in High Hazard Areas:

Service animals are permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of a facility where a person is allowed to go. If a student brings any animal, except a service dog or service miniature horse, the employee can prohibit the animal from being in the lab. For a service animal, there are two permitted questions that may be asked:

1. Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?

2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

Safety/Hazard Considerations

Faculty and staff must inform all students of potential hazards present in the high hazard spaces. Students requiring a service animal should take these factors into consideration when making decisions about their animal. Students who require the use of a service animal in labs assume responsibility for all risks involved in the use of their service animal in lab areas, including the risk of exposure to hazardous materials and objects to their service animal.

A service animal can be excluded or asked to leave the room if the behaviors are dangerous or a significant interference with activities that are unrelated to the job or task that the service animal is performing, or if the presence of the animal will fundamentally alter the nature of the learning outcome. If there is a belief that a fundamental alteration exists due to the presence of a service animal in lab, this decision must be made through the Disability Support Services.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required for students, PPE is also recommended for the safety of the service animal. Additional information on recommended PPE:

  • Paw Protectors
  • Disposable pad where the service animal can sit/rest during class period.

Considerations for Service Animal Handler Safety Planning in Lab:

  • It is important to consider the specific work or task that the service animal provides during the lab, the possible exposure to hazardous chemicals and procedures, and the safety of other students in the laboratory.
  • Potential hazards can include but are not limited to dripping, spilled, splashed chemicals; broken glass or chemicals on the floor; heavier-than-air vapors. Possible safe locations for a service animal can include but are not limited to: by the student’s bench area; in a recessed area under a lab bench or under a table; against a wall/under a coat rack; in a portable kennel outside of the lab; an adjacent non-lab room.
  • Acceptable alternatives, if any, of providing those services during the lab; How the service animal interacts with and/or alerts its animal handler; Emergency procedures needed for the service animal and animal handler; Protective equipment/clothing for the service animal that may be appropriate; and,
  • What is necessary to minimize or prevent negative impact to others.