Service Animals for Students with Disabilities
Emotional Support Animals
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An assistance animal is defined as an animal needed for emotional support, an emotional support animal. Federal law allows individuals with disabilities the presence of a broader range of animals (“assistance animals”) in University housing as compared with the campus as a whole. Either dogs or cats can be approved as emotional support animals. To be approved, the ESA must be 6 months old or older.
How can my ESA live with me on campus?
An individual may keep an assistance animal as an accommodation in University housing if:
(1) The individual has a documented disability;
(2) The animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling; and
(3) There is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides. Assistance animals are NOT allowed in any other university buildings;
(4) The request is submitted and approved through Student Disability Services.
Responsibilities of Individuals with ESAs
The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of an assistance animal.
Individuals with disabilities are solely responsible for the care, supervision, and control of their assistance animal at all times, and for ensuring the immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste.
Individuals must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including vaccination, licensure, animal health and leash laws, as well as the University’s rules in lease provisions regarding vaccination, licensure, leash control, cleanup rules, animal health, and community relationships.
What if I have a “bad dog”?
The University may exclude an assistance animal from University housing if the animal is not housebroken; would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others or University facilities; would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others, would fundamentally alter the nature of a program or activity; or is not being cared for by the individual.
Students will be liable for damage caused by assistance animals in the same manner they are responsible for personal damages to University property.
What is a Service Animal?
Service animals are defined as dogs (or miniature horses in rare instances) that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a service animal has been trained to do must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Where are Service Animals Allowed to go?
Service animals are allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of a facility where the public is normally allowed to go.
Some restrictions may be appropriate, however, if the presence of the animal would compromise the integrity of the setting.
How Should Service Animals be Controlled?
Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In these cases, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective controls at all times.
Questions About Service
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions:
- Is the service animal required because of a disability?
- What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation or training documentation for the animal, or ask for a demonstration of the ability to perform the work or task.
Pet Allergies and Fears
Allergies and fear are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.
When a person who is allergic to dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his or her animal from the premises unless one of these conditions exists:
- The animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it.
- The animal is not housebroken.
When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.