Guidance on Service/Assistance Animals

Introduction and Purpose

The purpose of this guidance is to notify the college community of the responsibilities of the college regarding service and assistive animals in college facilities, programs and activities.

Definition of Service Animal

The Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] defines "service animal" as an animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  Service animals are not pets.  They are working animals who have been trained to perform work or tasks for a person with a disability.  The work or task must be directly related to the person's disability. 

Examples of such work or tasks include: 

  • Guiding people who are blind
  • Alerting people who are deaf
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
  • Reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications
  • Calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack 

Individuals with mental disabilities may also use service animals that are individually trained to perform a specific task.  

Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, comfort, therapeutic benefit, companionship, are not service animals under the ADA.

A miniature horse may be considered a service animal as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. Other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals.

Rules of Services Animals

Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. 

The service animal must be clean and in good health. Owners and/or users of service animals must abide by current city ordinances/laws pertaining to licensing and vaccination requirements for service animals. It is the responsibility of the owner and/or user of the animal to know about these ordinances and/or laws. All owners and or users of service animals are responsible to clean up after and properly dispose of their animal's waste.

Concerns Regarding Service Animals

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other students.

Persons who have a concern about the behavior of a service animal should direct his/her concern to the Disability Services Director.  Concerns regarding service animals of employees should be reported to the Human Resources Director.

A service dog may be excluded from the college, or any part thereof, temporarily or permanently if it is found to be in violation of the requirements for use of service animals. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, the person with the disability may return without the animal's presence.

Exclusions of Service Animals

Unless the service animal is not meeting the behavioral or sanitary expectations outlined in this policy, a person with a disability cannot be asked to remove a service animal from the premises.

A person with a disability may be asked to remove a service animal from the premises if the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control the dog or the dog is not housebroken. A service animal may be excluded from a facility, including a classroom, if the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. A service animal may be excluded from a facility, including a classroom, if that animal's behavior, such as barking, is disruptive to the other participants within the facility.

Grievance Procedure

Any person who believes a decision related to a service animal or assistance animal is incorrect may file a grievance with the Chief Student Affairs Officer/Associate Dean for Student Services.  Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures for students may be found at:

Policy: 301.1 Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation

Contact Information

Kathy Meier

Katherine Meier, M. Ed.
Director of Disability Services

Phone: (406) 771-4311
FAX: (406) 771-4342
Sorenson Video Relay: (406) 205-1079

Great Falls College MSU
2100 16th Avenue South
Great Falls, MT 59405

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Friday - 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday through Sunday - Closed 

Grievance Procedure

Student Conduct and Grievance Policy