Policy on Service Animals
I. Policy Statement.
It is the policy of the Office of the Maine Attorney General (“Office”) to support employees with a physical or mental disability by permitting the use of Service Animals as part of a reasonable accommodation plan which has been developed in conjunction with the Office’s Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator (“Office EEO Coordinator”) or the State’s Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator (“State EEO Coordinator”) within the parameters set forth in this Policy. It is the policy of the Office of the Attorney General to allow Service Animals to accompany members of the public while in the office on state business and to allow access to the premises to the same extent as allowed to other members of the public. It is also the policy of the Office to permit members of the public who are especially trained service dog trainers, while engaged in the actual training process and activities of service dogs, the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as other members of the public, as provided by 17 M.R.S.A. § 1312.
“Service Animal” means an animal that:
- has been determined necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability by a physician, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner or licensed social worker; or
- has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical or mental disability , including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds, providing reasonable protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.
5 M.R.S. § 4553(9-D) (or its successor)
“Responsible Employee” means an employee with a physical or mental disability for whom use of a Service Animal is a reasonable accommodation.
III. Service Animals as a Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace.
Persons with a physical or mental disability may direct a request to use a Service Animal in the workplace, including a reasonable period of time to train a Service Animal for personal use, to the supervisor/manager, the Office EEO Coordinator or the State EEO Coordinator , or in the case of job-related injury, the Workers’ Compensation representative in accordance with the State of Maine Policy and Procedure for Processing Requests from Employees and Applicants for Reasonable Accommodation. No request for use of a Service Animal as a reasonable accommodation shall be approved or denied prior to review by the Office EEO Coordinator or the State EEO Coordinator. Any reasonable accommodation plan permitting the use of a Service Animal at work may include a reasonable period of time for training. The requirements set forth in sections IV, V, VI and VIII of this Policy shall apply during the training period.
IV. Prerequisites for Service Animals.
No Service Animal will be permitted in the workplace until the animal:
- is licensed by an appropriate municipal clerk, or veterinary licensing agent;
- is current on all recommended vaccinations; and
- has completed training from an established service animal training organization or has been evaluated by a certified animal trainer and found to have a sound temperament suitable for a workplace setting. If the animal is evaluated by a certified animal trainer, the animal’s behavior must be tested indoors around unknown people, including children, and unexpected distractions and noises.
V. Standards Applicable to Service Animals within the Workplace Setting.
All Service Animals are expected to meet the following standards:
- the health and care of the animal is the sole responsibility of the Responsible Employee;
- the animal must be within the Responsible Employee’s control at all times, either by means of a leash, containment (e.g. crate) or voice command;
- the animal must behave in a non-aggressive manner at all times (e.g. no jumping, growling, snarling, biting or snapping);
- the animal must not be disruptive in the workplace (e.g. barking, whining or destructive of state or personal property)
- the animal should, if practicable, wear a vest or backpack to be readily identifiable as a Service Animal.
Failure to meet any of the above standards may result in the temporary or permanent removal of the Service Animal from the workplace.
Considerations relative to co-workers:
- The Office will notify co-workers of the pending placement of a Service Animal and give the opportunity for co-workers to express concerns in advance.
- The Office will develop a plan to address the concerns of employees who are allergic to or fearful of a potential Service Animal, if appropriate.
- The Responsible Employee should post prominent notices at his or her workstation with information for co-workers about interactions with the animal, such as “please ask before petting or speaking to” the Service Animal.
VII. Members of the Public.
It is permissible to ask a member of the public accompanied by an animal whether an animal is a Service Animal and whether it is necessary for a disability. Generally, it is not permissible to ask about the nature of the person’s disability or for documentation supporting the Service Animal. If there are any questions about the use of a Service Animal by members of the public, the matter should be referred to the Office EEO Coordinator.
VIII. Removal of Service Animal.
A Service Animal may be removed from the premises if it is a direct threat to the health or safety of others, if it would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others, or if the animal substantially interferes with the work of the Office.
Attorney General Janet T. Mills