Service Animal Policy for Unity of Citrus County
Unity of Citrus County (Unity), as a religious institution, is not require to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is therefore, under no legal obligation to admit service animals. However, in accordance with Unity principles, we choose to make our spiritual community accessible to all. Therefore, Unity has chosen to adapt the ADA as a guideline for our service animal policy.
Our goal in this policy is to provide a safe and accessible environment for all parishioners that is conducive to prayer, community and spirituality.
The ADA defines a service animal as any dog that is trained to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities, including any physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. A service dog is a working dog and not a pet.
The ADA prohibits an organization from barring an assistance animal because members have allergies or fear the animal. It also states that organizations should take care not to unduly isolate an assistance animal owner, or restrict their movement with public spaces.
The ADA permits only two question which can be asked of individuals who have animals which they claim to be service animals:
Is the service animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
The ADA has no requirement for a service dog to wear a special vest nor does it have any service dog registry. Although these products and services are available on the internet for a fee, they have no legitimacy in respect to the ADA.
The ADA does not include provisions for emotional support animals or therapy animals and thus, they are not permitted on the premises at Unity. If a person falsely claims that their dog is a service animal, there is actually no way currently to prove it without violating the two-question provision. However, if the animal damages church property, becomes disruptive, soils the premises or becomes aggressive, an usher or other church representative is well within their rights to ask the person to correct the problem or remove the animal from the building. Misrepresenting an animal as a service animal is a violation of federal law.
Policy for animals on Unity's property outside the building:
Dogs are permitted on Unity grounds outside the building(s) provided that they are leashed, well behaved, do not pose a threat to anyone and the owner picks up after the dog.