Service Dogs at UMaine

Service dog walking
Service Animal

Service Animals in Settings that are Open to the Public:  Service animals are animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities. Service animals are dogs that are professionally trained to perform specific tasks for an individual.  When you see a service animal at UMaine or in the community, here are some tips to guide your interaction:

  • Speak to the person first.  Remember the dog is working.
  • Never touch a service animal without asking first and never feed the animal.
  • Recognize that the person and the animal are a team and that engaging with the animal disrupts their working relationship.
  • Do not ask the individual personal questions related to their disability or their service animal.


These guidelines serve to outline the rules for the presence of service animals on university campuses and, if applicable, in residence halls, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and its amendments. Service animals are permitted in any campus setting that is open to the public with individual exceptions in places where the presence of an animal may compromise a sterile environment. 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 crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Under the ADA, service dogs 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 sounds. A service dog must be under the control of the handler at all times. A service dog may be removed from campus premises if the dog is out of control, aggressive to others, or significantly disruptive, or if the dog is not housebroken. If it is necessary to ask the dog to be removed, every effort will be made to assure that the handler still has access to the programs or services at the institution without the use of the service animal. In addition, service dogs must be licensed and fully inoculated in accordance with applicable municipal ordinances and state laws. Also, service dogs are subject to local dog licensing and registration requirements. Link to ADA guidelines

Impact on the University

Universities must permit students, employees, and members of the public with disabilities who utilize campus facilities to use a service dog that has been specifically trained to do work or tasks for the person. When it is not obvious what service the dog provides, the only questions the University is permitted to ask are: 1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and 2) what disability related work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Medical documentation may not be requested.

In short, only dogs can be used as service animals by people in a public setting and the service animal must be specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for the person with a disability. Please note that other types of animals in addition to dogs may be used by people with disabilities who live in University housing settings, often referred to as assistance animals or emotional support animals. These types of animals are excluded from the definition of service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendments. If you are a student and have questions about emotional support animals and the relationship to university residence halls as defined by the Fair Housing Act, please contact the disability services office on your campus.

A summary of Maine law related to service animals is available from the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

Additional information related to service animals and housing is available from the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Service Animals in Public Spaces Equal Opportunity/Student Accessibility Services Training


Still have questions?  Visit the U.S. Department of Justice FAQ about service animals and the ADA.