UUFD Service Animal Policy

The UUFD Policy on Service Animals is informed by the requirements of the ADA.  Religious institutions are exempt from these requirements, but we wish to follow them in the spirit of welcome and in accordance with our Principles.

 The ADA specifically addresses Service Animals, which are dogs (and sometimes miniature horses) trained to do specific task(s) to assist a person with a disability.  This does not include Emotional Support, Therapy, Comfort, or Companion Animals.

 By law, you may ask the dog’s handler:

  1. Is this a Service Animal? 
  2. What task is the dog trained to perform?

 That is all.  No inquiries may be made about the handler’s disability, and no documentation or external marker (vest, etc.) is required.

 The service dog must be allowed into any area of the facility where the public generally may go. 

 At UUFD, this includes the sanctuary and the fellowship hall, even when food is present.

 The service dog must be under the handler’s control at all times.

 Service dogs must be leashed unless it interferes with the dog’s specific task(s) or unless the handler’s disability prevents it.  In such cases, the handler must maintain control of the animal through voice or other signal.

 Emotional Support Animals and Psychiatric Service Dogs are not considered Service Animals under the ADA, as they have not been trained to perform specific task(s) directly related to the individual’s disability.  However, there is ample evidence of their value for individuals with various mental health disorders, and they are viewed akin to assistive devices such as wheelchairs when defining “reasonable accommodations.”

 Therefore, UUFD Policy welcomes Emotional Support Animals on the same terms as Service Animals, with the amendment that the animal should be leashed/harnessed/tethered at all times.

 This Policy and a Service Dog Etiquette notice will be posted at both entrances to UUFD.

 If a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal comes to UUFD, a brief announcement should be made during the service reminding parents to prevent their children from approaching the animal.  An age-appropriate statement should be given to the children during RE reminding them of the same.  This adherence to etiquette will allow the animal to work undistracted, protect the dignity of the handler, and protect the children.