Service Animals

March 2015
Chapter 1

Section: 1:076

Service Animals

Adopted:  03/2015
Revised:  08/10/2017; 06/29/2018; 07/10/2018

Responsible Office
MU ADA Coordinator


MU generally welcomes service animals in its buildings, classrooms, residence halls, meetings, dining areas, hospitals, recreational facilities, activities, and events when the animal is accompanied by an individual with a disability who indicates the service animal is trained and provides a specific service to them that is directly related to their disability.

MU may not permit service animals when the animal poses a substantial and direct threat to health or safety or when the presence of the animal constitutes a fundamental alteration to the nature of the program or service. MU will make those determinations on a case-by-case basis.


  1. Handler: A person with a disability that a service animal assists or a personal care attendant who handles the animal for a person with a disability.
  2. Service Animal: Any dog* individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability and meets the definition of “service animal” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regulations at 28 CFR 35.104. The work or tasks performed must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples include, but are not limited to: assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as books or the telephone, alerting a person to a sudden change in blood sugar levels, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence or the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.*Note:  Under particular circumstances set forth in the ADA regulations at 28 CFR 35.136(i), a miniature horse may qualify as a service animal.
  3. Emotional Support Animal/Assistance Animal: An emotional support animal (also often referred to as an Assistance Animal) may provide physical assistance, emotional support, calming, and other kinds of assistance. Emotional support animals are not necessarily trained and do not perform work or tasks that would qualify them as “service animals” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Animals that are not considered service animals under the ADA may still be permitted under certain circumstances in Residential Life Facilities, with prior approval from the Disability Center.



Service Animals: Students who wish to bring a service animal to MU are covered by Title II of the ADA, and thus students may bring their service animals to campus – including Residential Life Facilities, classrooms, and other university facilities – without prior approval. However, MU students are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Disability Center on campus to ensure that their experience bringing the animal to campus is smooth. Additionally, students who plan to live in Residential Life Facilities are also strongly encouraged to inform Residential Life and Campus Dining Services that they plan to have a service animal living with them. Advance notice of a service animal for Residential Life Facilities may allow more flexibility in meeting a student’s needs.

Emotional Support Animals/Assistance Animals: Students who wish to bring an emotional support animal into Residential Life Facilities as an exception to the pet policy must go through the reasonable accommodation process with the Disability Center. In addition, students with Emotional Support Animals that have been approved as a reasonable accommodation must be contained in the handler’s residence. Students generally are not permitted to bring emotional support animals into classrooms, meetings, or other university facilities.

Members of the MU community with questions about the use of service animals and emotional support animals by students should contact the Disability Center.

Faculty, Staff, and Student Employees

Service Animals: In general, MU allows employees to use service animals in the workplace unless doing so would pose a substantial risk to health or safety. As required by Title I of the ADA, employees planning to bring their service animals to work should discuss the issue with their supervisor and request the use of the service animal as a reasonable accommodation because of their disability. In general, supervisors should grant the request to use a service animal unless doing so would pose a substantial risk to health or safety (for example, where the animal would be entering a sterile environment, construction area, or a food preparation area). If the reason the animal is needed is not clear, then the ADA allows the supervisor to ask what tasks the animal performs and request simple documentation that confirms the existence of the employee’s disability. For assistance with this process, contact the ADA Coordinator.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA): Emotional support animals are usually not considered to be reasonable accommodations in the workplace under Title I of the ADA because these animals are not necessarily trained.  Thus, all requests for ESAs in the workplace must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the ADA Coordinator.

Members of the MU community with questions about the use of service animals in the workplace should contact the ADA Coordinator.


Service Animals: Visitors are permitted to bring service animals into campus buildings, classrooms, residence halls, meetings, dining areas, hospitals, recreational facilities, activities and events without prior approval.

Emotional Support Animals: Emotional support animals are generally not permitted in campus facilities.

Members of the MU community with questions about the use of service animals by visitors should contact the ADA Coordinator.

Permitted Inquiries Regarding Service Animals

In general, members of the MU Community should not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability. However, as permitted by the ADA, if it is not obvious that the animal is required because of a disability, the handler may be asked:

  1. If the animal is required because of a disability, and
  2. What work or task the animal has been trained to perform?

The handler should not be asked for documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, MU community members should not make inquiries about a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., if the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person’s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).

Responsibilities of Handlers

  1. Caring for the Service Animal – The cost of care, arrangements, and responsibilities for the well-being of a service animal are the sole responsibility of the handler at all times.
  2. Leash Requirements – The service animal should generally be on a leash at all times unless the owner is unable to use a leash due to a disability or the use of the leash would interfere with the animal’s ability to perform its duties.
  3. Keeping the Animal Under Control – The animal should respond to voice or hand commands at all times, and be fully controlled by the handler.
  4. Being Responsible for Damage Caused by the Animal – Handlers are responsible for any damage or injuries caused by their animals and must take appropriate precautions to prevent property damage or injury.
  5. Being Responsible for Waste: Cleaning up after the animal is the sole responsibility of the handler. In the event that the handler is not physically able to clean up after the animal, it is then the responsibility of the handler to hire someone capable of cleaning up after the animal.
  6. Vaccination – Animals must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. All vaccinations must be current, and the animal must wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  7. Observing Good Service Animal Etiquette – To the extent possible, the handler should ensure that the animal does not display behaviors or make noises that are disruptive or frightening to others unless part of the service being provided to the handler (e.g. barking to alert the handler of danger).

Removal of Service Animals

Service Animals may be removed from campus facilities or events for the following reasons:

  1. An Out of Control Animal: A handler may be directed to remove an animal if it is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it. If the out-of-control behavior happens repeatedly, the handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal into university facilities until the handler can demonstrate that they have taken significant steps to mitigate the behavior.
  2. Non-housebroken Animal: A handler may be directed to remove an animal that is not housebroken.
  3. Direct Threat: A handler may be directed to remove an animal that MU determines to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of individuals. This may occur as a result of an animal exhibiting aggressive behavior, a substantial lack of cleanliness of the animal, or the presence of an animal in a sensitive area like a sterile medical treatment room, certain laboratories, or mechanical or industrial areas.
  4. Illness: any animal with signs of illness, including but not limited to a known zoonotic disease (a disease of animals, such as rabies or psittacosis, that can be transmitted to humans), severe diarrhea, severe vomiting, fever or open sores should not be on campus until deemed non-infectious/contagious by the written statement of a licensed veterinarian.

Where a service animal is properly removed pursuant to this policy, MU will work with the handler to determine reasonable alternative opportunities to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises. For assistance with this process, contact the ADA Coordinator.

Conflicting Disabilities

Some people may have allergic reactions to animals that are substantial enough to qualify as disabilities. MU will consider the needs of both persons in meeting its obligations to reasonably accommodate all disabilities to resolve the problem as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. Students requesting allergy accommodations should contact the Disability Center.  Faculty or staff requesting allergy accommodations should contact the ADA Coordinator.

Service Animals in Training

Under Missouri law, a service animal being trained generally has the same rights as a fully trained service animal when accompanied by a trainer and identified as such in any place of public accommodation. However, handlers of service animals in training must also adhere to all of the requirements for service animals above and are subject to the removal policies as outlined in this policy.


Any person dissatisfied with a decision or action concerning a service animal or an emotional support animal may contact the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX to file an appeal according to the Equal Employment/Education Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy, outlined in the Collected Rules, Chapter 600.