As established and defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals shall not be excluded from Cornell College facilities or activities. To facilitate appropriate acceptance of service animals in classes and other campus areas, students with service animals are strongly encouraged to contact the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising or the Accessibility and Academic Support Assistant, particularly prior to bringing service animals into classes.

As stated in the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in public, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. Service animals in training must wear a vest identifying them as a “Service Animal in Training” when in public.

Service animals may not reside in College Housing without prior approval from the Residence Life Accommodations Committee and subsequent registration with the Residence Life Office. All service animals residing in College Housing must be housebroken.

Handlers must take responsibility for obtaining a dog license from the City of Mt. Vernon within 30 days of bringing a service or assistance dog to campus and abide by all other Mt. Vernon animal control ordinances.  Handlers are also responsible for ensuring that animals are under their control and adhering to any College or City cleanup rules and for following Cornell College's Animal Handler Responsibilities and Rules.

Students requesting an Emotional Support Animal should refer to our Emotional Support Animal policy.


Service Animal: Federal law indicates that a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform specific tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting an individual who is blind or has low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting an individual to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to an individual with mobility disabilities, and helping an individual with psychiatric and/or neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

Service Animals in Training:  Individuals training a service animal are afforded the same rights to those individuals who require the assistance of a service animal.  If you are training a service animal to aid and guide persons with disabilities, you must contact the Office of Academic Support and Advising and comply with the requirements set forth in this Policy. 

Individual with a Disability (ADA definition): An individual with a disability is a person who 1) has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities or 2) has a record of such an impairment.

Handler: The individual with a disability who utilizes a service or assistance animal as an accommodation.

Accommodation: Any modification or adjustment in policies, practices, procedures, or work/school/housing environment to enable a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal opportunities and access to College rights, privileges, benefits, and services.

College Housing Procedures for Service  Animals

Service animals may not reside in College Housing without prior notification and registration. Documents required for review of requests for assistance animals in College Housing must include the following:

  • A written request from the prospective handler to the Coordinator of Disability Services including the answering of these two questions:

    • Is this animal a service animal and is it required because of a disability?

    • What has this animal been trained to do?

The student should also include the following information:

  • the type of animal

  • the date when the animal was acquired

  • a description of the animal (e.g., weight, breed, etc.), whether the animal is housebroken, and the animal’s name. 

In the event that a service animal is approved to be in College Housing, the Director of Residence Life (or designee) will meet with the student handler to review and sign the Guidelines and Agreement: Service Animal in Campus Housing. Once this has been completed, the handler must follow all sections of the Cornell College Service Animal Policy, including Handler Responsibilities.

Removal/Relocation of Service Animals

Animals may be removed from any campus facility for the following reasons:

  1. Out-of-control Behavior: A handler may be directed to remove an animal that is unruly or disruptive (e.g., barking excessively, running around, bringing attention to itself, jumping up on people, exhibiting aggressive behavior) if the handler is unable or unwilling to take effective action to control the animal. Repeated instances of such behavior may result in exclusion from College facilities until the handler can demonstrate that they can effectively control the animal.
  2. Not Housebroken: Animals must be housebroken. Handlers must also ensure that their animals are kept clean and well-groomed. Animals that are excessively unclean (e.g., repeated soiling of facilities, flea-infested, foul-smelling and/or shedding excessively) may be excluded from College facilities. Although animals will sometimes become ill unexpectedly, the College recommends that animals that are sick should not be brought into College facilities.

If a service animal is properly excluded from the premises, the handler will be offered the opportunity to participate in the service, program or activity without the service animal.

Conflicts between animals and others’ severe allergies, phobias, etc., will be addressed on a case-by-case basis (e.g., relocation to another College housing facility or an alternate office location).

Emergency Situations

In the event of an emergency, college officials and emergency responders will prioritize the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, and guests to campus.  Officials and responders are not responsible for removing animals during an emergency, and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal.  

Confidentiality and Authority

Information regarding disability is considered highly confidential, is maintained in separate, secure files with limited access, and is only shared on a need-to-know basis. Authorizations for animals used for disability-related accommodations are made based on medical and/or mental health documentation and the situation at hand, and are not subject to challenge by someone other than the person utilizing the service or  assistance animal.

Policy Revisions and Review

This policy is subject to revision and will be reviewed on an annual basis.


City of Mount Vernon Dog Licensing Form