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Service Animals on Campus

Section: III.  STSV - 117
Approved By: Dr. Sheila Ruhland, 6/9/16
Last Review: none
Last Revision: none
Prior Revisions: none
Initial Adoption: 6/8/16

Service Animals on Campus


This policy is established for the purpose of governing the presence of service animals on campus while affording individuals with disabilities requiring the use of a service animal equal opportunity to access College facilities, courses, programs, and activities. This policy also identifies responsibilities of service animal owner and College personnel.


This policy applies to all employees, faculty, students, student workers, visitors, and contract employees. No one is excluded from this policy.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act
Chapter 49.60 RCW
Chapter 162-22 WAC
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L.93-11)
45 CFR Part 84
RCW 34.05482 (Brief Adjudicative Proceedings)
Tacoma Municipal Code -- Title 17


"Service animal" means an animal that is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, psychological, intellectual, or other mental disabilities.

"Therapy animal" means an animal that provides emotional or passive comfort that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a disability. A therapy animal (also known as an emotional support animal or comfort animal) is not a service animal under this policy.

"Owner" means any person having an interest in or right of possession to an animal, or any person having control, custody, or possession of an animal.

"Physical control" means control by means of a leash, cage, bridle, or other restraining device held by the owner or keeper. Reasonable modifications of this provision may be made to accommodate a service animal (Tacoma Municipal Code _ Title 17).

"College facilities" includes all buildings and facilities in the possession or owned, used, controlled, leased or rented by the College, and agencies that have educational agreements with the College. Exemptions to this policy are allowed for college properties that are long-term leaseholds and occupied by agencies that are not affiliated with the College, i.e., Pierce Transit, Tacoma Area Coalition for Individuals with Disabilities (TACID), etc.

"College premises" includes all land and other property in the possession of or owned, used, controlled, or leased/rented by the College.


In compliance with state and federal laws, service animals are permitted in Tacoma Community College premises or in facilities to afford individuals with disabilities who require the assistance of service animals, with equal opportunity for access to the college facilities, courses, programs and activities.


Service Animals Permitted

Generally, owners of service animals are permitted to be accompanied by their service animal to all areas of the College's premises to include facilities and programs where the owner is allowed to go. Such areas include public areas, public events, classrooms and other areas where College programs or activities are held. Limited exceptions for service animal access exist. For example, when consistent with other College policies, state and/or federal laws/regulations, a service animal may be restricted from specific areas of the College, such as food preparation areas, animal research facilities and premises, medically sensitive patient and clinic areas, and biologically sensitive or hazardous research sites. If a service animal is restricted from certain areas, the Access Services coordinator is available to assist in evaluating reasonable accommodations for the owner.

Assessing Service Animal Status

College personnel must permit a service animal access to an event or activity with its owner when it is readily apparent that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for the service animal owner. Examples include a dog guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling an individual's wheelchair or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability.

If the need for the service animal is not apparent, College personnel may only ask service animal owners for the following information:

  • Whether the service animal is required because of a disability; and
  • What work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

If the owner states that the animal is required because of a disability and the owner states that the animal has been trained to do work or a task for the owner, then the service animal must be admitted in all areas except those that are restricted as explained herein. If there is any doubt that an animal is a service animal, College personnel should admit the animal and then consult with the Access Services coordinator regarding future access.

Service animal owners must not be asked for medical documentation or the nature of their disability, except as noted herein. Owners may not be asked for a special registration, identification card, license, or that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform work or tasks.

College Assistance

Potential and current students and guests are not required to register their service animal with the College. Service animal owners who are students who regularly access College facilities are encouraged to contact Access Services within the Student Affairs department who can assist the owner with proactively informing other College personnel, such as faculty, advisors, building coordinators, etc., that the service animal should be allowed access.

Employees with Service Animals

College employees who require the use of a service animal in the workplace should make a request for an accommodation. For more information see the College's Policy on Equal Employment Opportunity, Board of Trustees Resolution 98-04 and WAC 162-22-100. To make request for a workplace accommodation contact the ADA coordinator in Human Resources.

Service Animal Owners' Responsibilities

Service animal owners are responsible for complying with policy and shall be responsible for damage or injury caused by the service animal. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the service animal under their direct control at all times, such as by a harness, leash or other tether; however, if the use of a harness, leash or other tether interferes with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, or if the owner's disability prevents the use of such devices, then the service animal must be under the owner's control through voice control, signals or other effective means;
  • Ensuring the service animal does not disturb or disrupt normal academic or administrative functions;
  • Immediately cleaning up after the service animal and properly disposing of waste or other debris from the service animal;
  • Preventing the service animal from entering any pond, fountain or stream located on College premises; and
  • Complying with relevant city, county and/or state license and leash laws while the service animal is on College premises.

Removal of Service Animals from College Facilities

College personnel may only ask service animal owners to remove their service animal from College premises or from the immediate area for the following reasons:

  • If the service animal is not under the owner's direct control;
  • If the service animal is disturbing or disrupting the normal administrative, academic or programmatic routine, then the owner must first be given the opportunity to get the animal under control, but if the disruption or disturbance continues, the owner shall remove the animal upon request; or
  • Emergency assistance may be contacted if the presence, behavior or actions of the service animal constitutes an immediate risk of danger to people or property.

The service animal may only be excluded by College personnel for that incident. If asked to remove the service animal, the owner must be offered the opportunity to return to College premises or the immediate area without the service animal and be provided with reasonable assistance at that time to participate in the College service or program. Owners with concerns about the removal of their service animal should contact the Access Services coordinator located in Building 7.

Service Animals in Training

Service animals in training may be permitted, but are not entitled to, the same access as service animals. The College employee with authority over the building area has the discretion whether to permit access to service animals in training. Any individual bringing a service animal in training on College property is responsible for complying with this policy.

Violations of Procedure

Depending on the seriousness of the animal's conduct or repeated conduct, service animals may be excluded from College premises temporarily or permanently if they are found to be in violation of this procedure. If a service animal is excluded, the Access Services coordinator shall, if requested, assist in evaluating reasonable accommodations for the owner. The Access Services coordinator is responsible for conducting the necessary assessments regarding ongoing or permanent removal of a service animal. Owners who violate this procedure or disregard an instruction to remove a service animal from College premises may be subject to additional penalties, including banning from any College premises or other fines or penalties under applicable city, county or state rules, regulations or laws. Violations of this procedure by an owner who is a College student or employee may be referred for corrective or disciplinary action. Concerns relating to violations of this procedure should be referred to the Access Services coordinator for students or ADA coordinator for employees.


At the College's discretion, brief adjudicative proceedings may be used in matters relating to the College's enforcement of this policy.

Access Services Coordinator: Students

Located in Advising Counseling Center, Building 7.

ADA Coordinator: Employees, Volunteers, Visitors

Located in Human Resources, Building 14

Grievance Process/Complaint Reporting

Individuals who wish to make a complaint that a College employee may have violated the College's non-discrimination and/or non-retaliation policies, including a failure to permit access to a service animal under this policy, may contact:

Tacoma Community College
Human Resources Office

Individuals who wish to file allegations of discrimination also may contact the following:

United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

  • Email: ocr@ed.gov
  • Phone: 1-800-421-3481 (voice)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • Phone: 1-800-669-4000
  • TTY: 1-800-669-6820

Washington State Human Rights Commission

  • Phone: 1-800-233-3247 (voice)
  • TTY: 1-800-300-7525

Implementation of this policy becomes effective July 1, 2016.