Service Animal Procedure

I. Introduction

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) has established the following procedure regarding the use of service animals by persons with disabilities who are visiting CCPRC parks and/or participating in CCPRC programs, as well as for CCPRC employees. This procedure intends to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and to ensure that CCPRC does not discriminate on the basis of disability as identified in Titles I and II of the ADA.  


II. Primary CCPRC Contacts

  1. Participants and authorized users may have a service animal accompany them in CCPRC parks, facilities and programs where they are authorized users as a reasonable modification. Persons with disabilities are invited to contact the CCPRC’s ADA Coordinator if you have any questions about this procedure.
  2. Employees may have a service animal as a workplace accommodation. Please contact the Human Resources Division for information regarding this process.

III. Definitions 

  1. Service Animal: A dog or a miniature horse that has been individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.  Exceptions may be made by CCPRC on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the law.  Tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to sounds, pulling a wheelchair, or retrieving dropped items. Dogs or miniature horses that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs or miniature horses that are used purely for emotional support, are not considered service animals and are subject to all existing park and program rules pertaining to animals.  For information on animals that do not qualify as service animals, see our Pets & Parks page.
  2. Partner/Handler: A person with a disability who uses a service animal as a reasonable modification, or a trainer.
  3. Team: A partner/handler and a service animal.  The two work as a cohesive team in accomplishing the tasks of daily living.
  4. Trainee: A dog or a miniature horse being trained to become a service animal has the same rights as a fully trained service animal when accompanied by a partner/handler and identified as such.

IV. General Rule Regarding Service Animals 

As a general rule, CCPRC will modify policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.

V. Restrictions/Areas of Safety 

CCPRC may impose some restrictions on service animals for safety reasons.  Restrictions are considered individually to determine if the animal poses a danger to others at CCPRC sites, or could be in danger itself, and to determine if other reasonable modifications can be provided to assure that the individual enjoys access to the park, facility, or program. Questions about restrictions on service animals should be directed to the contacts listed in Section II.

VI. Responsibilities of Individuals Using Service Animals

An individual with a service animal is responsible for the following:

  1. Responding truthfully to the limited and appropriate inquiries that may be made by employees regarding the service animal.
  2. Ensuring that the animal meets any local licensing requirements, including maintenance of required immunizations for that type of animal, and upon request by CCPRC officials, shall produce proof of such within 72 hours.
  3. Partners/handlers must ensure that the animal is in a harness or on a leash or tether at all times.  Exceptions may be considered individually and require the demonstration of control of the service animal by the handler.
  4. Partners/handlers must ensure that the animal is under control and behaves properly at all times.  The supervision of the animal is solely the responsibility of its partner/handler.  If the animal’s behavior results in a hygiene problem, or the animal acts in a threatening manner, CCPRC may require the partner/handler to remove the service animal from the site.
  5. Partners/handlers must ensure that all local ordinances or other laws regarding cleaning up after the animal defecates are strictly adhered to.  Individuals with disabilities who cannot clean up after their own service animals are not required to pick up and dispose of feces and are asked to contact a staff member to request assistance.
  6. Partners/handlers must keep the service animal in good health.  If the service animal becomes ill, the partner/handler must remove it from the area.  If such action does not occur, CCPRC staff may require it to leave.
  7. CCPRC may exclude a service animal from any or all parts of its property if a partner/handler fails to comply with these restrictions, and in failing to do so, fundamentally alters the nature of programs, services, or activity offered by CCPRC.
  8. CCPRC may exclude a service animal from any or all parts of its property if a partner/handler fails to control the behavior of a service animal and it poses a threat to the health or safety of others.

VII. Requirements for CCPRC Staff, Registrants & Visitors

Members of CCPRC staff, participants and authorized users, and visitors of CCPRC sites are responsible for the following:

  1. Allow service animals to accompany the partner/handler at all times and anywhere at a site except where animals are specifically prohibited, such as at specific areas of a zoo.
  2. Refrain from distracting a service animal in any way.  Do not pet, feed, or interact with the animal without the partner/handler’s invitation to do so.
  3. Shall not separate a partner/handler from a service animal.
  4. CCPRC may take disciplinary action against any individual who fails to abide by these guidelines.

VIII. Temporary Exclusion of Service Animals

A participant or authorized user, employee, or visitor may report a concern regarding a service animal to CCPRC staff.

  1. Temporary Exclusion of a Service Animal Used by a Participant or Visitor:
    1. In response to an immediate concern, CCPRC staff may determine that a service animal must be temporarily removed from parks, sites, or facilities.  The employee authorized to make such decisions at that site, park, or facility shall notify the participant or visitor of this decision and that the incident will be reported immediately to the CCPRC ADA Coordinator.  The employee shall then report the incident to the ADA Coordinator.
    2. The ADA Coordinator (or designee) will investigate all reported concerns and incidents where service animals have been temporarily removed from sites, parks, and facilities.  The ADA Coordinator (or designee) will consult with appropriate CCPRC personnel and determine whether or not the animal should be excluded from sites, parks, and facilities for an extended period of time or permanently.  The ADA Coordinator (or designee) will notify the participant, authorized user, or visitor of his or her decision.
    3. If it is appropriate for the service animal to be excluded from sites, parks, or facilities permanently, the ADA Coordinator (or designee) will work with other CCPRC staff to ensure the participant, authorized user, or visitor receives appropriate reasonable modifications in place of the use of a service animal.
  2. A participant, authorized user, or visitor who does not agree with the decision regarding removal from the premises may file an accessibility complaint through CCPRC’s ADA Grievance Process

IX. Conflicting Disabilities 

Individuals with medical issues (such as respiratory diseases) who are affected by animals should contact CCPRC’s ADA Coordinator if they have a concern about exposure to a service animal.  The individual will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies a disability and the need for a modification.  The appropriate CCPRC staff will facilitate a process to resolve the conflict that considers the needs and conditions of all persons involved.

X. Clarifying an Animal’s Status 

A service animal is not required to wear a cape, vest, or other symbols.  It may not be easy to discern whether or not an animal is a service animal by observing the animal’s conduct or the partner or handler.  However, in other cases, an animal may only have a leash, and in still other situations, the partner/handler’s disability is not apparent.  Therefore, it may be appropriate for designated CCPRC staff such as facility managers, site directors, area staff, or administrative staff to ask (1) whether the animal is required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

XI. Emergency Situations

Emergency Responders (ERs) are trained to recognize service animals and to be aware that animals may try to communicate the need for help.  Also, an animal may become disoriented from the smell of smoke in a fire or facility emergency, or from sirens, wind noise, or shaking and moving ground.

A partner/handler, service animal, and team may be confused in any stressful situation.  ERs will remember that animals may be trying to be protective and, in its confusion, should not be considered harmful.  ERs should make every effort to keep a service animal with its partner/handler; however, the ER’s first effort should be toward the partner/handler, which may result in the animal being left behind in some emergency evacuation situations.