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Animals in the Library


The Harris-Elmore Public Library (HEPL) and the Genoa Branch Library (GBL) recognizes that some patrons may have service animals, which are trained to assist or accommodate a person with a sensory, mental, or physical disability or to perform a task(s) for the benefit of a person with a disability. HEPL and GBL recognizes legal rights under federal and state laws regarding the use of service animals. HEPL and GBL also considers the safety and health of all of its patrons and staff to be of utmost priority.




The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual:

  1. A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;

  2. A record of such an impairment; or

  3. Being regarded as having such an impairment.


If an individual meets any one of these three definitions, he or she is considered to be an individual with a disability for purposes of coverage under the ADA.


Any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability and meets the definition of “service animal” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations 28 CFR 35.104. The work or tasks performed must be directly related to the person’s disability. “Service dog” shall include “assistance dogs” as defined under Ohio law R.C. 955.011. Examples of such work or tasks include: guiding people who are blind; alerting people who are deaf; pulling a wheelchair; alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure; reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications; calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack; or performing other duties. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks. As of March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under Titles II and III of the ADA.


Service dogs that are being trained by non-profit special agencies for the purpose of assisting a person(s) who may be blind, deaf, hearing or mobility impaired are entitled to full and equal access to library facilities under Ohio Revised Code Section 955.43; provided that any such service dog in training must be covered by an insurance policy covering personal injury and property damage.


Federal regulations allow miniature horses to be recognized as a lawful service animal. Therefore, a person with a disability may be allowed to utilize a miniature horse as a service animal, subject to all of the restrictions stated in this policy, but also subject to additional considerations. When determining whether to allow a miniature horse to function as a service animal, HEPL and GBL may consider the following before permission is granted to utilize a miniature horse as a service animal.

  1. The horse in question may be no more than 34 inches tall measured at its shoulder and it may weigh no more than 100 pounds.

  2. As with dogs, the horse must have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.

  3. As with dogs, the handler of the horse must be able to be in sufficient control of the horse and the horse must be housebroken.

  4. The presence of the horse may not compromise legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for the safe operation of library service.


Ohio law recognizes a broader category of service animals as compared to the ADA. Under Ohio Administrative Code Section 4112-5-06, a person with a disability is entitled to the attendance of an animal assistant, which can include any animal that aids a person who is disabled – such as the dogs and miniature horses contemplated under the ADA, but also extending to the other species of animals that aids a person who is disabled (e.g., a monkey that retrieves items for a mobility impaired individual). [See Ohio Administrative Code Section 4112-5-02] Thus, if a person with a disability requires the aid of a service animal other than a dog or miniature house, he or she would be protected by this provision of Ohio law.




No pets or animals other than service dogs, miniature horses, other animal assistants, or service dogs/miniature horses in training, are allowed in the library. Owners of pets will be asked to remove them from the library.

A person(s) with disabilities may bring their service animals, including assistance dogs, into all areas of the library where members of the public are normally allowed to go. All service animals must be under the full custody and control of their handler at all times. 

An owner and their service animal may be asked to leave the library and/or pay for damages if the service animal is displaying incompatible behavior. Incompatible behavior includes:

  • Making excessive noise, e.g barking

  • Urinating/pooping on the floor 

    • In the event of this happening, an owner(s) will be held responsible for cleaning up after their animal 

  • Leaving the side of the owner, e.g. running away

  • Biting or other threatening actions such as growling, teeth bared, lunging, nipping, or jumping on others besides animal owner

  • Damaging Library property or patron’s property 

Staff may ask two questions:

(1) Is the animal required because of a disability?

(2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

Owners of service animals or service animals in training will indicate that they are working animals and not pets. Terms used may include assistance, service, guide, hearing, or helping animal. Staff may not ask about the owner’s disability.

NOTE: Fear of animals, allergies, presumed outcomes, or annoyance on the part of other patrons are not permissible reasons for denying access or for refusing library service to people with a service animal(s).



Pending approval by the Director or Branch Manager, the Library may have animals in the building as part of educational or recreational programming.



The Harris-Elmore Public and the Genoa Branch Library does not condone leaving non-service animals outside the library in a way that may endanger the animal or Library patrons. HEPL and GBL reserves the right to contact the police regarding any unattended animals on Library property. HEPL and GBL also reserves the right to ban patrons who endanger animals in such a way.




a)  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Title II, Section 35.136 (Revised September 15, 2010); Beginning on March 5, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.

b)  Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 955.43: Dogs with Blind, Deaf or Mobility Impaired Person.

c)  Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 4112-5-06: Discrimination against the Disabled in    Places of Public Accommodation

d)  Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 4112-5-02: Definitions

Approved by the Board of Trustees

March 19, 2020

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