SF State’s Department of Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is currently developing new policies regarding emotional support animals on campus.
When it comes to animals on campus, the University currently only has policies implemented for service animals which are defined as “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,” according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Following the ADA requirements, SF State allows people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in areas customers are generally allowed in, according to SF State’s risk manager Michael Beatty.
The University policies addressing service animals include the process required for approval and what to do in cases where service animals pose a problem with other students or other service animals. Since the ADA only addresses service animals, non-service animals such as emotional support animals and pets are not regulated under these terms.
“As far as I know, if you bring your pet on campus as a pet all blame or responsibility falls upon you as the owner,” senior cinema major Shelby Porterfield said.
Porterfield, who had a service animal for her PTSD and breathing problems, had to show proof of doctor’s recommendation and training for her dog, Luna, to the DPRC on campus. She had to sign a form indicating that her dog wouldn’t cause any distraction, destruction or harm on campus.
She is also required to bring an official vest, leash, tags or some type of indicator that her dog is a service animal and not meant to be played with or distracted.
“I fractured my knuckle during the last week of finals last semester because someone’s pet dog lunged at Luna and in my desperation to keep her safe I punched a metal pole in [Cesar] Chavez as I lifted her up,” said Porterfield. “She’s supposed to be there to keep me safe, and if I’m having to be constantly vigilant for her safety, it’s difficult for her to do her job.”
Even though emotional support animals are not considered service animals under the ADA, students who need them still need to go through the same process with the University’s DPRC. Third-year international relations major Julianna Jaynes, who owns an emotional support animal, had to undergo three weeks of the same process that Porterfield had to go through.
The new Animals on Campus policies will address non-service animals on campus that aren’t being tackled under the ADA.
“Many university campuses have implemented policies for animals on campus. For SF State, this will be a new policy,” Beatty said. “No effective date has yet been set since the policy is still under development.”
According to Beatty, the policy still needs to go to University Counsel for review and comment and then they would launch community outreach in the form of public information presentations.