Administrative Services

Approval Date: 1/16/07
Revised: 9/15/08
Approved By: President

Service Animal Policy


WIU seeks to accommodate persons with disabilities who demonstrate the necessity of a service animal. The University is simultaneously mindful of the health and safety interests of its general community. The Service Animal Guidelines are aimed at accomplishing these objectives. Disability Support Services is responsible for implementing this policy for students. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Access is responsible for implementing this policy for employees and visitors.


Service animals are animals trained to assist people with disabilities in the activities of normal living. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition of service animals is "…any…animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items." If an animal meets this definition, it is considered a service animal regardless of whether it has been licensed or certified by a state or local government or a training program.

The ADA and Illinois law (720 ILCS 630 and 775 ILCS 30) allow service animals that accompany persons with disabilities to be on the Western Illinois University campus. A service animal must be permitted to accompany a person with a disability everywhere on campus. However, there are some places on campus that are not safe for service animals; these areas are discussed in section IX.

This policy differentiates "service animals" from "pets", describes types of service dogs, denotes campus locations that are off limits to service animals, and sets behavioral guidelines for service animals.


Companion animal: These animals are prescribed for some disabilities for their calming influence, affection, stability, or feeling of security. They are not trained and not afforded the legal protection of service animals.

Animal in training: An animal being trained to be a service animal. It has the same rights as a fully trained animal when accompanied by a trainer and is identified as such.

Partner/handler: A person with a service or therapy animal. A person with a disability is called a partner; a person without a disability who has some temporary responsibility for the service animal is called a handler.

Service Animal: Any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.

Pet: A domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. Pets are not permitted in University facilities.

Team: A person with a disability, or a handler, and his or her service animal. The two work as a team in accomplishing the tasks of every day living.

Therapy Animal: A therapy animal does not assist an individual with a disability in the activities of daily living. They are not protected by laws as service animals.

Types of Service Dogs

It is important to note that a service animal does not necessarily have to be a dog. However, dogs are the type of animal most commonly trained to serve individuals with disabilities. Below are some definitions of the different types of service dogs.

Guide Dog: A carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool by persons with severe visual impairments or who are blind.

Hearing Dog: A dog that has been trained to alert a person with significant hearing loss or who is deaf when a sound occurs, such as a knock on the door, a fire alarm, phone ringing, etc.

Service Dog: A dog that has been trained to assist a person who has a mobility or health impairment. Types of duties the dog may perform include carrying, fetching, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, helping a person to get up after a fall, etc.

Sensory Signal (Ssig) Dog: A dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement, such as hand flapping. A person with autism may have problems with sensory input and may need the same support services from a dog that a dog might give to a person who is blind and/or deaf.

Seizure Response Dog: A dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder; how the dog serves the person depends on the individual’s needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure, or the dog may go for help. A few dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance.

Faculty Staff and Student Responsibility

  • Allow a service animal to accompany the partner/handler at all times and everywhere on campus except where service animals are specifically prohibited.
  • Do not pet a service animal unless given permission by the partner/handler; petting a service animal when the animal is working distracts the animal from the task at hand.
  • Do not feed a service animal. The service animal may have specific dietary requirements. Unusual food or food at an unexpected time may cause the animal to become ill.
  • Do not deliberately startle a service animal.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner/handler from her or his service animal.

Documentation Requirements

Students should provide the requested verification to:

Disability Support Services
117 Seal Hall
1 University Circle
Macomb IL 61455
(P) 309-298-2512
(F) 309-298-2361

Employees should provide necessary verification to:

Equal Opportunity and Access
203 Sherman Hall
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
(P) 309-298-1977
(F) 309-298-2098

Persons using service animals on campus must provide documentary verification that he/she has a disabling condition or impairment, and that a service animal is needed so that the person may use the University’s facilities and/or services. The person’s health care provider must submit a signed letter, on professional letterhead, stating as follows:

  • The nature of the disabling condition or impairment, with whatever information the University may reasonably need to ensure compliance with the law; and
  • The provider’s professional opinion that the person needs the requested animal to use the University’s facilities and services, the function of the animal, and whatever rationale or further statement the University may reasonably need to understand the basis for the professional opinion.

The partner/handler of the service animal must show proof that the animal has met the following regulations:

Licensing: The animal must meet the licensing requirements of McDonough County. McDonough County will recognize licensure from the city/county of permanent residence through the end of the year in which the animal was licensed. For more information about licensing requirements, please contact the McDonough County Treasurer at 309-833-2032.

Health records: The animal must have a health statement, including vaccinations from a licensed veterinarian dated within the past year against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have a current rabies vaccine and wear the rabies vaccination tag. Dogs must also have current distemper and bordetella shots. The animal must be well groomed, measures should be taken at all times to control external parasites and be regularly bathed to control odor. Consideration of others must be taken into account when providing maintenance and hygiene of assistance animals. A veterinarian’s statement as to good health must be provided to Disability Support Services on an annual basis. Service animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas. A partner/handler with an ill animal may be asked to leave university facilities.

Identification: In case the animal is accidentally separated from the partner/handler, it should wear, at all times, some type of commonly recognized identification tag with a contact name and phone number, in addition to the City of Macomb license. Ideally, an animal will be recognized as a service animal by the identifying jacket provided by the training agency.

Responsibility of Persons Who Have Service Animals

The care and supervision of a service animal is the responsibility of the partner/handler. The partner/handler must maintain control of the animal at all times. The partner/handler is responsible for ensuring the immediate clean-up of all animal waste. (When appropriate, areas will be designated as animal toileting areas by University Physical Plant and University Housing and Dining Services staff.) Individuals with disabilities, who physically cannot clean up after their own service animal, need to make the necessary arrangements for assistance.

Control Requirements

  • The animal must be on a leash at all times. It should never be permitted to wander off leash.
  • The partner/handler must be in control of the animal at all times.
  • The animal must be as unobtrusive as possible.
  • The partner/handler is responsible for protecting University property from damage from the service animal. Any damage to University facilities beyond typical use, as determined by the appropriate facility manager, will be the financial responsibility of the partner.

Humane Treatment of Animal

Partners/handlers of service animals shall comply with State of Illinois Anti-cruelty statutes (Chapter 510, Act 70, Sections 3.01, 3.02, and 3.03), which state:

  • Each owner shall provide sufficient quantity of good quality, wholesome food and water, adequate shelter and protection from the weather, veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering, and humane care and treatment for each of his animals.
  • No person or owner may cruelly treat, torment, starve, over work or otherwise abuse any animal. No owner may abandon any animal where it may become a public charge or may suffer injury, hunger or exposure.
  • No person may intentionally commit an act that causes a companion animal to suffer serious injury or death. Aggravated cruelty does not include euthanasia of a companion animal through recognized methods approved by the Department of Agriculture.

Any person who wishes to report a violation of the above statutes should contact the McDonough County Animal Shelter at 309-837-2989 with the dates, location, a description of the incident, and, if known, the name of the person in violation.

Service Animals in On-Campus Housing

Students with disabilities must get approval prior to moving into a campus housing facility to have a service animal reside on campus. The appropriate documentation needs to be submitted to Disability Support Services. The partner/handler is responsible for property damage caused by his or her service animal. The partner/handler must keep the service animal on a leash at all times in the residence area except in the room. The partner/handler and the service animal must be in compliance with University policy regarding service animals.

Public Etiquette by the Animal

The animal:

  • Should not be allowed to sniff people, store shelves, tables in eating areas, or personal belongings of others.
  • Must not initiate contact with someone without the partner’s direct permission.
  • Must not display any behaviors or noises that are disruptive to others, such as barking, whining, growling, running around, displaying aggressive behavior, or bringing attention to itself. If such behavior persists, the partner may be told not to bring the animal into any University facility until the partner takes significant steps to mitigate the behavior. Ill and/or unclean service animals are not permitted in public campus areas. The partner for such an animal may be required to remove the animal.
  • Must avoid excessive personal grooming in public settings.
  • Must not block an aisle or passageway.
  • Must stay within about 2 feet of the partner’s leg or chair unless engaged in a helping activity that requires more distance.
  • Should be trained to ignore food that may be around in common areas.

Exclusion for behavior: A service animal may be excluded from the campus when that animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Should the animal be excluded due to being out of control, the university will give the individual who uses the service animal the option of continuing to attend the university without having the service animal on the premises.

Areas Off Limits to Service Animals

Research Laboratories: The natural organisms carried by dogs and other animals may negatively affect the outcome of the research. At the same time, the chemicals and/or organisms used in the research may be harmful to service animals.

Mechanical Rooms/Custodial Closets: Mechanical rooms, such as boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, electric closets, elevator control rooms and custodial closets, are off-limits to service animals. The machinery and/or chemicals in these rooms may be harmful to animals.

Areas Where Protective Clothing is Necessary: Any room where protective clothing is worn is off-limits to service animals. Examples impacting students include the foundry, glass laboratory, wood shops and metal/machine shops.

Areas Where There is a Danger to the Service Animal: Any room, including a classroom, where there are sharp metal cuttings or other sharp objects on the floor or protruding from a surface; where there is hot material on the floor (e.g., molten metal or glass); where there is a high level of dust; or where there is moving machinery is off-limits to service animals.

Food Preparation Areas: As per Section 750.1400 of the Illinois Health Code, areas of food preparation areas are off limits to service animals.

Exceptions: A laboratory director may open her or his laboratory to all service animals. A laboratory director of a research laboratory or an instructor in a classroom or teaching laboratory with moving equipment may grant permission to an individual animal/partner team to enter the research laboratory or classroom or teaching laboratory with moving machinery. Admission for each team will be granted or denied on a case-by-case basis. The final decision shall be made based on the nature of research or machinery and the best interest of the animal. Example: The machinery in a classroom may have moving parts at a height such that the tail of a large dog could easily be caught in it; this is a valid reason for keeping large dogs out. However, a very small hearing dog may be shorter than any moving part and, therefore, considered for admission to the classroom.

Access to other designated off-limits areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis. A student who wants her or his animal to be granted admission to an off-limits area should contact the department responsible for that area.

Emergency Situations

In the event of an emergency, the first responder should be trained to recognize service animals and to be aware that the animal may be trying to communicate the need for help. The animal may become disoriented from the smell or smoke in a fire or laboratory emergency, from sirens or wind noise, or from shaking and moving ground. The partner and/or animal may be confused from the stressful situation. The first responder should be aware that the animal is trying to be protective and, in its confusion, is not to be considered harmful. The first responder should make every effort to keep the animal with its partner. However, the first responder's first effort should be toward the partner; this may necessitate leaving an animal behind in certain emergency evacuation situations.

To help ensure appropriate response, this policy is being disseminated to the appropriate campus and community offices.

Grievance Procedures

If you feel as though you have been discriminated against because of disability, the appropriate contact is the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, 203 Sherman Hall, (309) 298-1977. Complaints will be promptly investigated. Information obtained in the review of a complaint will be kept as confidential as possible.