Service Animals Policy

Purpose

The St. Lucie County Library System (the “Library”) recognizes that patrons with disabilities may be accompanied by service animals that are trained to assist or accommodate a person with a sensory, mental, or physical disability of perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with disabilities. The Library recognizes legal rights of its patrons under federal and state laws regarding the use of service animals. The Library considers the health and safety of all patrons, the public, and library staff to be of utmost priority.

Background

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), state, and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of a facility where the public is normally allowed.

Service Animal Determination

  1. “Service Animal” is defined as an animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
  2. Assistance animals (e.g. emotional support animals) and pets do not fall under the statutory definition of a “service animal.” While these animals may provide comfort to their handlers, the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship does not constitute work or tasks under the ADA. As these animals do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, the Library is not required to allow them in the libraries.
  3. If it is not obvious that an animal brought into a library is a service animal, Library staff may ask:
    a). whether the animal is a service animal required because of a disability; and,
    b). what specific tasks the animal is trained to perform.
  4. A staff member attempting to ascertain whether a dog is a service animal shall not ask about the nature of a person’s disability.
  5. If the animal is not a service animal as defined by ADA, staff shall require the handler of the animal to remove the animal from the library. This shall not apply to animals which are participating in a program or event sponsored by the Library.

Service Animal Determination

  1. The handler of a service animal must maintain the animal on a leash and/or must be in full control of the animal at all times.
  2. A service animal may be excluded/removed from the library if its behavior poses a threat to the health or safety of others, or when its behavior creates a disruption to activities going on around it [e.g. barking or growling at others.] Service animals which are not housebroken, bark excessively, are uncontrolled, or are otherwise disruptive will be required to leave the premises.
  3. Service animals may never be left unattended on library grounds.
  4. Service animals are not allowed on library furniture or fixtures, and must remain on the floor or be carried (as appropriate) by their handlers at all times.
  5. The handler of a service animal will be asked to remove the animal from the library if this policy and/or the patron behavior policy is violated.
  6.  The owner/partner/handler of a service animal who will not comply with this policy and/or the Behavior Policy may be asked to leave and/or be trespassed from the library.
  7. Misrepresenting an animal as a service animal is a violation of the Library’s Behavior Policy and may result in suspension of library privileges.

While the Library occasionally presents educational programs that feature animals, members of the public may only enter a library with an animal if it is a service animal that requires accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Appeal

Patrons who have been asked to leave or to remove their animal have the right to submit a written appeal to the Library Director. The request should explain why the patron feels he/she or their dog should not have been removed from the library premises and thus why the ban should be lifted. Patrons may submit their appeal via email jacobs@stlucieco.org or via USPS, Library Director, St. Lucie County Library System, 101 Melody Lane, Fort Pierce, FL 34950. The Library Director will review the appeal, and contact the patron within thirty (30) days to discuss the matter. Following the discussion, the Library Director will issue a written decision within fifteen (15) days.

Patrons may appeal a decision of the Library Director to the County Administrator or designee. Patrons may submit their appeal via email to phelank@stlucieco.org, or via USPS to County Administrator, 2300 Virginia Avenue, Fort Pierce, FL 34982, within ten (10) days of the date of the Library Director’s decision. The County Administrator or designee will review the appeal and
issue a written decision within thirty (30) days of the date of receipt of the appeal.

Approved by the Library Advisory Board: April, 15, 2019
Approved by the BOCC: July 16, 2019