Service Animal Policy
The David and Joyce Milne Public Library welcomes everyone who wishes to participate in its cultural, recreational, and learning activities.
The Board of Trustees of the David & Joyce Milne Public Library has established the following Service Animal Policy so that we may protect our patrons’ right of access to and use of library facilities to the maximum extent possible, and in a manner consistent with state and federal disability law. We also wish to ensure the safety of our patrons and staff, as well as to safeguard our resources and facilities from damage.
To that end, only “service animals,” as that term is defined by the Massachusetts Service Animal Law and the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), are permitted in the library. Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not defined as service animals according to these laws, and are therefore prohibited from entering the building.
The Massachusetts Service Animal Law limits the definition of service animal to a dog that accompanies an individual with a sensory and/or physical disability. The ADA more broadly defines service animals as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Both laws obligate state and local governments, and any places that are open to the public, to permit service animals to accompany persons with disabilities anywhere that members of the public are allowed to go. The David and Joyce Milne Public Library is one such public location in which service animals must be permitted.
Service Animal Defined by the ADA
A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Tasks performed by the service animal may include, but are not limited to: pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button.
Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under the ADA or under Massachusetts law. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. A doctor’s letter stating that a person needs the animal for emotional support does not turn an animal into a service animal.
Examples of animals that fit the ADA’s definition of “service animal” because they have been specifically trained to perform a task for the person with a disability include the following:
· A Guide Dog or Seeing Eye® Dog is a carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool for persons who have severe visual impairments or are blind.
· A Hearing or Signal Dog is a dog that has been trained to alert a person who has a significant hearing loss or is deaf when a sound occurs, such as a knock on the door.
· A Psychiatric Service Dog is a dog that has been trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and lessen their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine, providing safety checks or room searches, or turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders, and keeping disoriented individuals from danger.
· A SSigDOG (sensory signal dog or social signal dog) is a dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the handler to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping).
· A Seizure Response Dog is a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. How the dog serves the person depends on the person’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 to sit down or move to a safe place.
Under Title II and III of the ADA, service animals are limited to dogs. However, entities must make reasonable modifications in policies to allow individuals with disabilities to use miniature horses if they have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.
Other Support or Therapy Animals
While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA and Massachusetts General Law. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes assist individuals with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but the support animals do not have specialized training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. Although some states have broader laws allowing therapy animals in public accommodations, these animals are not limited to working with people with disabilities and therefore are not covered by federal or Massachusetts law protecting the use of service animals in public places.
Types of Animals Permitted
Under federal and state law, only dogs (and in some cases miniature horses) are recognized as service animals that are permitted to accompany people with disabilities in public places, including the David and Joyce Milne Public Library.
Permission and Proof
Individuals accompanied by service animals or service animals in-training must be permitted to enter and use the public premises in which members of the public may enter and use the premises, and cannot be required to furnish proof that the animal is a service animal. Individuals with service animals do not need to obtain permission in advance of visiting a place that is open to the public. If a staff member is unsure whether or not an animal is a service animal, or if it is not obvious what service an animal provides to the individual, a staff member is allowed to ask the following two questions:
1. Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?
2. What task or service is the animal trained to perform?
Further, there is no specific training requirement, certification, registration, harness, or vest required of a service animal to gain access to any public place.
Staff of the library cannot ask any questions about the person’s disability, cannot require medical documentation, cannot require a special identification card or training documentation for the animal, and cannot ask that the animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
When might a patron be asked to leave with an animal?
Patrons with service animals cannot be asked to leave the library with their animal, unless one of the following situations arises:
The animal is not a service dog or service miniature horse.
If the answer is “no” to the question, “Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?” If the animal is a service animal in-training, however, it must be permitted to remain on the premises.
If the patron provides an insufficient answer to the question, “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?” An example of an insufficient answer would be, “It is my therapy (or comfort) dog.”
The service animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it.
The service animal is not housebroken.
Patrons are welcome to return to the library without the animal.
Exceptions for Library Programming
The library may choose to host programs that include the presence of an animal or multiple animals that are not defined as service animals.
Such an animal is permitted in the library if it is an integral part of a library-sponsored event and if it is accompanied by a trained handler at all times. Outside groups holding events in the meeting rooms may not bring animals into the building unless the library agrees to formally co-sponsor their program.
Flowchart for easy reference...
Adopted September 8, 2020