Policies & Procedures

Policy: Service, Support Animals


Document Number: 2.041
Title: Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals
Effective Date: 10/23/19
Revised Date: 11/03/2022
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River Parishes Community College is committed to complying with federal, state, and local laws in regard to equal access and opportunities for persons with disabilities. This includes allowing service animals on the College’s campuses and property, in accordance with these regulations and laws.

Service Animals

Many people with disabilities use a service animal in order to fully participate in everyday life. Animals can be trained to perform many important tasks to assist people with disabilities, such as providing stability for a person who has difficulty walking, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, preventing a child with autism from wandering away, or alerting a person who has hearing loss when someone is approaching from behind.

Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals. However, they are not considered service animals under the ADA. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. Since the use of these animals is not limited to working with people with disabilities, their usage on campus is prohibited and not protected by federal laws. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires state and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities.

Disability: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A disability may be physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental.

Handler: the individual who utilizes a service animal to perform work or tasks pertaining to that individual’s disability.

Service animal: any animal 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. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to sounds, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, turning off/on switches, assisting during a seizure, or providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability.

As such, River Parishes Community College is committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities for persons with disabilities and will permit service animals on College campuses and facilities for persons with disabilities, in accordance with relevant state and federal law. Service animals are allowed to accompany their handlers at all times and permitted everywhere on the College campuses, except in areas where specifically prohibited due to health, environmental or safety hazards (e.g. mechanical rooms, machine shops, custodial closets, etc.). Service animals also may be prohibited when their presence fundamentally alters the nature of a program or activity (e.g. research lab, areas requiring protective clothing, food preparation areas, etc.).

General Guidelines

  • Do not pet or feed service animals. They are working and must not be distracted.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate the service dog from his/her handler.
  • Allow animals in all permissible places at RPCC pursuant to rules noted below.

Service animals do not have to be registered with the RPCC Office of Disability Services to be considered legitimate. You are only allowed to ask two questions of an animal handler:

  1. Is this a service animal required because of a disability?

  2. What work or tasks is the animal trained to perform?

Handler’s Responsibilities

  • Handlers are encouraged, but not required, to register their service animal with the Office of Disabilities Services.
  • Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the handler must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
  • All service animals must be in good health. Current vaccinations and identity tags must comply with state-specific requirements.
  • Handlers accompanied by service animals must follow local ordinances regarding animal feces. If a handler with disabilities cannot pick up the dog’s feces, he/she must make arrangements for cleaning up after the dog.
  • Handlers are responsible for their animal’s behavior. If the accompanying animal exhibits unacceptable behavior, including aggression when not being provoked, the handler is expected to employ proper training techniques to correct such behavior.

Reasons for removing a service animal from College Property

  • Sick animals are not allowed in public spaces and therefore the animal’s handler will be asked to remove any sick animal from RPCC’s campus.
  • If a service animal presents disruptive behavior such as barking, running around, showing unprovoked aggression or bringing attention to itself, handlers may be asked to remove the animal from the classroom or premises.
  • Handlers with animals that are not clean may be asked to leave the RPCC campus.

Take the next step

Accomplish your educational and professional goals. Take the next step and apply to join the River Parishes Community College family.

Campus Locations

Gonzales Campus
925 W. Edenborne Parkway
Gonzales, LA. 70737

Reserve Campus
181 Regala Park Road
Reserve, LA. 70084

St. Charles Campus
13145 HWY 90
Boutte, LA. 70039

Westside Campus
25250 Tenant Road
Plaquemine, LA. 70764


River Parishes Community College is committed to collaboration, accountability, respect & inclusion,
excellence, and sustainability.

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