Animals as Accommodations

*Please note that we are currently revising our Animals on Campus Policy. 

Below are our current regulations regarding Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and pets. 

Service Dog

A Service Dog (or miniature horse) that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. In other words, a Service Dog must be trained to perform specific tasks – “the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.”

The United States Department of Justice, which is the agency with primary authority for enforcement and interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [see DOJ ADA guidance(link is external) on Service Dogs], prohibits the University from asking about the nature or extent of a person's disability or requiring proof that an animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a Service Dog. 

Verifying the Need for Service Dogs

Unless it is readily apparent that the animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person's wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability), the University may ask only two questions to determine whether an animal qualifies as a Service Dog. The University may ask [24 C.F.R. 136(link is external)]:

  1. Is this animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task is this animal trained to perform?  

The work or tasks performed by a Service Dog must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. [24 C.F.R. 104(link is external)

Service Dogs on Campus

While on University property a Service Dog shall be under the control of its handler. A Service Dog shall have a harness, leash, or other tether. Exception: if the handler is unable to use a harness, leash, or tether because of a disability, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the Service Dog's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, the Service Dog must at least be under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means). 

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of a Service Dog. The University may ask an individual with a disability to remove a Service Dog from the premises if the animal is out of control (and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it) or if the animal is not housebroken. When the University’s usual practice is to charge persons for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her Service Dog. [24 C.F.R. 136(link is external)

The request to have a dog treated as a Service Dog may be denied if the specific animal in question poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by a reasonable accommodation or if the specific animal would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by a reasonable accommodation.           

Emotional Support Animals in University Housing

An Emotional Support Animal may be kept in university house as a reasonable accomodation to its owner. The owner will be required to provide medical documentation that addresses two different questions: (1) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities? (2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for the Emotional Support Animal?

Requests for an Emotional Support Animal may be denied if granting the request would constitute an undue financial or administrative burden, or would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing provider's services. In addition, the request may also be denied if: (1) the specific Emotional Support Animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation, or (2) the specific Emotional Support Animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. 

When a disabled student is seeking permission to keep an Emotional Support Animal  in University housing, the University Residential and Student Services Program animal accommodation process is the correct way for disabled students to secure permission to keep an Emotional Support Animal in University residence. 

Emotional Support Animals for University Employees

An Emotional Support Animal may be brought into university buildings by their employee owner as a reasonable accomodation. The owner will be required to provide medical documentation that addresses two different questions: (1) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities? (2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for the Emotional Support Animal?

Requests for an Emotional Support Animal at work may be denied if granting the request would constitute an undue financial or administrative burden, or would fundamentally alter the university's services or programming. In addition, the request may also be denied if:

(1) the specific Emotional Support Animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation; (2) the specific Emotional Support Animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation; or (3) has offensive odors or display habits inappropriate to the work environment, for example, is not housebroken.

When a disabled employee is seeking permission to bring an Emotional Support Animal into the university building where they work, the Disability Management Services process is the correct way to secure permission.