Per ADA guidelines, The Eye Care Institute allows service animals accompanying persons with disabilities to be on the campus of The Eye Care Institute. A service animal must be permitted to accompany a person with a disability almost everywhere on campus, excepting those locations where the service animal would compromise a sterile environment or where it would be deemed unsafe for the service animal.
This policy differentiates “service animals” from “pets and comfort animals,” describes types of service dogs and sets behavioral guidelines for service animals.
Definition of a Service Animal
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. 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, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
The ADA also defines a service animal as a miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders, and generally weigh between 70 to 100 pounds. The Eye Care Institute permits miniature horses as service animals where reasonable. There are 4 assessment factors to determine whether this facility is able to accommodate a miniature horse as a service animal.
- Whether the miniature horse is housebroken
- Whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control
- Whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight
- Whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.
Requirements for Service Animals and Their Handlers
Per ADA regulations, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless it would somehow interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. If the service animal is unable to be restrained, the service animal must be under control of the individual by voice, signal, or other effective controls.
Requirements for Staff of The Eye Care Institute
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited questions are allowed. Staff is only permitted to ask two questions.
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Staff may not ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, a special identification card or training documentation for the animal, or ask the animal to demonstrate the work or task.
Staff of The Eye Care Institute is not required to provide care or food for a service animal.
When a Service Animal May Be Asked To Leave the Grounds
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove their service animal from the premises unless
- The service animal is out of control and the handler is unable to take effective action to control it.
- The animal is not housebroken.
If there is a legitimate reason to ask that the service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
Allergies or fear of dogs are not valid reasons to refuse service to a person using a service animal. When a situation occurs in which someone is allergic to a service animal, and the two must spend time in the same room, they both should be accommodated by assigning them to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
Areas Where Service Animals Are Permitted
The Eye Care Institute allows service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go, per ADA guidelines. For example, service animals are allowed in exam rooms and restrooms; however, it may be appropriate to exclude service animals from procedure rooms or other environments where its presence may compromise a sterile environment or where it may cause a safety concern for either the owner or the service animal.
People who are using service animals may not be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to patrons without animals.
If The Eye Care Institute would typically charge a patient for damage done to the property, a patient with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by themselves or their service animal to the property.