Service Animal Verification

Established:  July 4, 2019
Supersedes: N/A
Responsible/Originating Department:  AccessAbility Services, Occupational Health, and Human Resources - Accessibility
Executive Contact: Associate Provost, Students, and Associate Provost, Human Resources

Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures:

Policy 32 – Animals on University Property

Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour

Policy 34 – Health, Safety and Environment

Policy 36 – Dispute Resolution for University Support Staff

Policy 58 – Accessibility

Policy 70 – Student Petitions and Grievances

Policy 71 – Student Discipline

Policy 72 – Student Appeals

Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo

1.0 General

In accordance to Policy 58 – Accessibility, section 10, this guideline provides a standard process for verifying persons with disabilities’ accessibility with service animals so that all University of Waterloo (the “University”) members are treated fairly, equitably and consistently, while adhering to legislative requirements with respect to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”).

2.0 Scope

2.1 This procedure applies to all individuals interacting with the University.

2.2 This procedure reflects the University's obligations under the AODA, and Policy 58 - Accessibility.

2.3 While registration of the requestor and their service animal with AccessAbility Services (AAS) for students, or Occupational Health (OH) for employees is required, obtaining a University Service Animal Verification (SAV) card is optional.

2.4 In addition to this guideline, students living in, or visiting, Waterloo Residences should consult the Waterloo Residences website and residence contracts: housing/fees-contracts/terms-conditions, for guidance on the rules and regulations pertaining to animals in this setting.

3.0 Steps for Service Animal Verification

3.1 The requestor completes the “Service Animal Verification” form, along with “Verification of Animal’s Health” form.  Completed forms must be sent to AAS (for students) or OH (for employees).  If the requestor has alternate documentation which validates the need for a service animal (e.g., in the case of guide dogs as defined by the Blind Persons’ Rights Act, by providing the appropriate Identification Card) this may be used as an alternative to completion of the noted forms.  The requestor should discuss this with AAS/OH to determine the most appropriate documentation required.

If the requestor is a visitor of the University (i.e. guests, volunteers, members of the public, etc.) and there are concerns regarding the presence of their service animal (e.g. if the animal is not readily identifiable), inquiries should be directed to the AODA Specialist.

3.2 AAS/OH will work with the requestor to verify the need for the service animal to accompany the requestor at the University.  Discussion will include at a minimum:

  • roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved;
  • the need for an Individual Risk Assessment (where hazardous materials are used or stored, or where conditions that may place the safety of the animal, lab users or general public at risk);
  • alternate provisions for support if the service animal is prohibited entry by any other laws, and the requestor requires access to such areas;
  • the duration of need for service animal and reassessment period, as necessary; and
  • additional medical accommodations that may be required (e.g., emergency response information, academic accommodations, workplace accommodations, etc.).

3.3 AAS/OH will notify WatCard office of the need for an SAV Card.  The requestor will attend the WatCard office to obtain a physical SAV Card.

3.4 Annual review with AAS/OH to ensure the current process and arrangement remains effective.  Should changes be required (i.e., update on SAV Card or discontinuing need), AAS/OH will notify WatCard office and relevant stakeholders accordingly.

4.0 Roles & Responsibilities

4.1 The Requestor

The Requestor must:

(a) Upon request, provide the appropriate documentation to AAS/OH for verification of the need for the service animal to accompany the requestor at the University.

(b) Work collaboratively with the AAS/OH and relevant stakeholders in identifying appropriate alternate solutions when the service animal is prohibited entry by any other legislation, or if deemed inappropriate following an Individual Risk Assessment.

(c) Advise AAS/OH promptly of any changes to their status, with regards to the use of their service animal.

(d) If obtained, maintain the SAV Card in its proper working condition and recognize the SAV card is governed by the same terms and conditions as the WatCard.

(e) Comply with relevant provincial legislation and guidelines regarding the supervision and care of the animal while on and within University property, as set out in Policy 32 – Animals on University Property, including:

  • ensure that the service animal brought onto campus is properly licensed, if required, and immunizations are up to date,
  • ensure that the service animal is restrained by means of a leash or harness at all times,
  • ensure that the Service animal is accompanied and controlled at all times by the requestor,
  • Ensure that the service animal remains in close proximity to the requestor at all times, unless the requestor is in an area where the service animal is not allowed, in which case the service animal must be crated,
  • ensure that all waste created by the service animal is immediately removed and safely disposed of,
  • ensure that the service animal is provided with water, food and timely bathroom and exercise breaks,
  • be liable for any damage to property or injury to persons caused by the service animal
  • consider the needs of the service animal and the sensitivities of other members of the University community; and
  • ensure that the service animal does not disrupt or interfere with University programs or services. Barking, growling, biting, or aggressive behaviour by a service animal will not be tolerated or permitted.

(f) As noted in Policy 58 – Accessibility, the service animal is permitted onto and into University property as a means of providing equitable access to the requestor.  If the service animal must be left alone at any time, the requestor must provide an appropriate sized, well-ventilated crate for the service animal and make appropriate arrangements for the crate during these periods.

(g) There may be circumstances where a requestor’s accompaniment by a service animal has to be balanced with the health and safety needs of others in the University community. Individuals with a medical condition(s) affected by a service animal should contact AccessAbility Services (for students) or Occupational Health (for employees) if they have a health or safety concern about exposure to the animal. The individual raising the issue will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s) allowing a determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation.

4.2 University representative (e.g. instructor, manager, supervisor, service representative):

(a) Treat all requestors and their service animals with dignity and respect, in accordance to Policy 58 – Accessibility.

(b) Accept the SAV card, as issued, as verification of the requestor’s need for the service animal as a result of their disability.

(c) Direct all inquiries regarding the requestor’s need for the service animal and circumstances surrounding it to AAS/OH.

(d) Where the service animal may be prohibited access due to legislation or through Individual Risk Assessment, take an active role in ensuring that alternative approaches and possible accommodation solutions are investigated to provide equitable access.

4.3 AAS/OH

(a) Review and verify all medical documentation received.

(b) Meet with the requestor in a timely manner to discuss their need of the service animal and the need for the service animal to accompany the requestor at the University and how to facilitate their access to the University.

(c) Offer the requestor the ability to obtain an SAV card, as appropriate.

(d) Notify WatCard Office of the requestor’s need to obtain an SAV card, and provide relevant information needed for generation of such card.

(e) Provide advice and coaching to University personnel about this procedure and its implementation; relevant legislation and policy.

(f) Treat all documentation that is received as confidential.

(g) Track service animal requirements and maintain accurate records.

(h) Establish, along with the requestor, an appropriate review timeline and facilitate the re-registration process, as required.

4.4 AODA Specialist

(a) Monitor relevant legislation and update policies and procedures accordingly to accurately reflect the University’s legal obligations.

(b) Support University personnel in creating an accessible environment for persons with disabilities and their service animals.

(c) Work with relevant stakeholders to deliver tools, resources, training and communication regarding the accessibility policy and guidelines and application within their roles.

5.0 Terms and Definitions

In this guideline, the following terms shall have the following meaning:

“Disability”, as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code means,

i. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical co-ordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device,

ii. a condition of mental impairment or a developmental disability,

iii.a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language,

iv. a mental disorder, or

v. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997; (“handicap")

Service Animal”, as defined by the AODA means:

(a) the animal can be readily identified as one that is being used by the person for reasons relating to the person’s disability, as a result of visual indicators such as the vest or harness worn by the animal; or

(b) the person provides documentation from one of the regulated health professionals listed in the Integrated Accessibility Standards, confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to the disability.

6.0 Appeal and Discipline

The University recognizes the right for persons with disabilities to use a Service Animal in order to access employment, education, housing, and services.  The University will treat the Service Animal as an extension of the person with disabilities utilizing it. 

As such, appeals of a decision made by the University are done in accordance with the applicable policy or memorandum.

Violations to University policies and/or property, whether by the Service Animal or towards the Service Animal, are subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the applicable policy or memorandum.

7.0 Appendices

Appendix A       Service Animal Verification Request Form

Appendix B       Verification of Animal’s Health Form

Appendix C        Individual risk assessment

Appendix D        UW Service Animal Verification Card prototype

Appendix E        Considerations for Owners of Service Animals