Students with disabilities at the University of Florida are able to use their service animals to make everyday tasks easier.
According to the University of Florida’s Environmental Health and Safety website, UF allows the use of trained service animals by individuals with disabilities in all public areas at the university.
“A service animal has to be trained to do a specific task, and the person using it has to be disabled,” said Ken Osfield, ADA compliance officer at the University of Florida.
Under the ADA, service animals are allowed in state and local governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations that serves the general public.
The only service animals approved by the ADA are dogs and miniature horses.
“In the past we’ve had students who have had monkeys as service animals,” Osfield said. “Primates are probably the most effective service animals you can think of because they can pick up a spoon and feed a person who can’t feed themselves, and a dog or mini horse can’t do that.”
Monkeys were considered service animals until March 15, 2011 when there was a change in guidelines.
A person with a service animal doesn’t have to get approval from anyone as long as the animal is trained to do something.
“Under the federal government there are no requirements for a person who wants to come to the University of Florida with a service animal on terms of getting it approved by anyone,” Osfield said.
Emotional support animals are not considered service animals and are not allowed in UF buildings.
“A service animal in training should have on a vest identifying it as a service animal in training,” Osfield said.
Sara Cork, a 4th- year Phycology major, trains a puppy named Calvin for the Guide Dog Foundation.
“Whenever Calvin is in training he wears his vest so that he knows the difference between working and being a normal puppy,” Cork said.
It is important that a service animal is trained so that they know how to act in public areas.
“The service animal must be under control at all times,” Osfield said. “If the person is unable to get the animal under control then they will be asked to remove the animal.”
According to Cork part of Calvin’s training is learning how to behave in a classroom environment.
“I usually pack a few snacks and chew toys so that he won’t be disruptive in class,” Cork said.
Service animals make life easier for the individuals who rely on them.
“It makes me so proud to train Calvin knowing that he will one day be helping someone who truly needs him,” Cork said.