Assistance Animal Policy and Procedure


Policy

Assistance animals, also known as companion animals, are described as therapy, comfort or emotional support animals that alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effect of an individual’s condition. The assistance performed by the animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Assistance animals are not service animals, which are defined in and protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.[1]

In accordance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at the University of Connecticut engages in an interactive and collaborative process with students in order to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations, including the use of an assistance animal.

Under the FHA, a person may keep an assistance animal in her/his residence hall or campus apartment as a reasonable accommodation if:

  1. The individual has a disability;
  2. The animal is necessary to afford the individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing; and
  3. There is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

Assistance animals are allowed only in the residence hall or campus apartment to which the individual with a disability is assigned by Residential Life. In making a decision whether to permit an assistance animal, the University shall inquire:

  1. About the nature or extent of a student’s disability that substantially limits a major life activity;
  2.  If the assistance animal is necessary for the student to use or enjoy his or her residence;
  3.  About the relationship between the student’s disability and the relief that the animal provides; and
  4.  Require veterinary verification of routine care of the animal, including vaccines.

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of an assistance animal. An assistance animal is not required to have special training, certification or be licensed as an assistance animal; however the animal shall be under the control of its owner. An assistance animal shall have a harness, leash, other tether, or cage unless either the individual is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, other tether, or cage, or the use of a harness, leash, other tether or cage would interfere with the animal’s safe, effective performance of assistance, in which case the animal must be otherwise under the individual’s control (e.g., voice control, signals or other effective means). A student with a disability may be asked to remove an assistance animal from University housing if the animal is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it, poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, causes substantial physical damage to the property of others, or poses an undue financial and administrative burden to the University. If the assistance animal is properly excluded when requested, the student with a disability has the opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing without having the assistance animal on the premises.

The University shall not charge a surcharge for the assistance animal, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees. If the University normally charges individuals for damages caused by a pet, a student with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by the assistance animal. The University will give priority consideration to the specific methods requested by a student, but cannot guarantee that a particular accommodation will be granted if the University determines it is not reasonable or that other suitable methods are available.

Procedure

  • Students requesting to have an assistance animal in campus housing should register with the CSD at MyAccess.csd.uconn.edu, which can be accessed from the CSD website, www.csd.uconn.edu, or by completing a brief Student Information form at the CSD, located in the Wilbur Cross building, Room 204.
  • Students must provide documentation on official letterhead that is signed by a qualified and credentialed practitioner, usually a treating physician or mental health provider, who is not a family member of the student. Documentation must include the following: A statement from an appropriate treating medical professional regarding the student’s disability or condition, and the impact of the condition upon a major life activity; A statement from an appropriate treating medical professional regarding the necessity of the assistance animal for the student to use or enjoy campus housing; and A statement from an appropriate treating medical professional regarding the relationship between the student’s disability and the relief the assistance animal provides.
  • Once appropriate documentation is received, a professional staff member from the CSD will contact the student to discuss the request.
  • Students will also receive an e-mail notification from the CSD regarding the outcome of the request.
  • The CSD will notify the Department of Residential Life if the student is approved for this accommodation.
  • The Department of Residential Life will contact the student in order to complete an Assistance Animal Agreement, http://reslife.uconn.edu, and request veterinary verification of routine care of the animal, including vaccines.

Student Responsibilities

  • Students using or seeking to use an assistance animal in a University residence hall or apartment are encouraged to contact the CSD prior to housing selection through the Department of Residential Life to discuss housing needs.
  • It is the student’s personal responsibility to immediately clean up or to solicit the proper assistance for cleaning up if their assistance animal defecates, or becomes ill and either vomits and/or becomes incontinent.
  • Students should contact the appropriate Residential Life operations center in order to identify an appropriate location for elimination of waste. Northeast Operations Center – 486-5558 – Busby Suites, Charter Oak Apartments, East Campus, Hilltop Apartments, Mansfield Apartments, North Campus, Northwest Quad, Northwood Apartments and Towers. Southwest Operations Center – 486-5556 – Alumni Quad, CT Commons, Hilltop, Garrigus Suites, McMahon, Shippee, Buckley, South Campus and West Campus
  • Students must complete the Assistance Animal Agreement, http://reslife.uconn.edu with the Department of Residential Life.
  • Students are responsible for the procedures detailed in the Assistance Animal Agreement.
  • Students must submit requested information regarding their assistance animal (e.g., veterinary verification of routine care) to the Department of Residential Life.

CSD Responsibilities

  • Determine whether the student’s request to keep an assistance animal in University housing is an appropriate and reasonable accommodation.
  • Provide verification and information to Residential Life staff regarding students who are approved for this accommodation.
  • Assist in resolving any issues that arise regarding this accommodation.

 

For additional information regarding assistance animals, please refer to the following resources:

US Department of Housing and Urban Development

ACCOMMODATING SERVICE AND ASSISTANCE ANIMALS ON CAMPUS

 

Any questions regarding this policy and procedure should be directed to Jennifer Lucia, Associate Director, at (860) 486-2020 or jennifer.lucia@uconn.edu.

 

[1] Service animals, as defined by the ADA, are limited to dogs and miniature horses. For more information on service animals, please see the University’s Service Animal Policy at http://csd.uconn.edu/service-animals/.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Service Animals and Assistance (aka Companion) Animals on Campus

A service animal means any 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals. Animals, including dogs, that do not perform a task for the individual but rather serve as emotional support, assistance, comfort or companion animals are not service animals.   The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) engages in an interactive and collaborative process with students in order to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations, including the use of a service animal.
Examples of tasks performed by a service animal may include:

  • 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;
  • Pulling a wheelchair;
  • Assisting an individual during a seizure;
  • Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens;
  • Assisting individuals with psychological or neurological conditions by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
Yes. If a student with a disability is approved to use a service animal, he or she will present an accommodation letter from the CSD to each of their faculty verifying the accommodation. The CSD will also notify the Department of Residential Life of the service animal.
Maybe. Individuals with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by their service animals on all University of Connecticut campuses where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go, unless the University determines that permitting the service animal poses a health or safety concern, the service animal is not housebroken or cannot be effectively controlled by the owner. The accompaniment of an individual with a disability by a service animal in locations with health and safety restrictions, such as food preparation areas and laboratories, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate department representative(s) in collaboration with the CSD.
Faculty and staff are not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal. The service animal must be under the control of it’s owner at all times. The student may be asked to remove a service animal if:

  • the animal is out of control;
  • the animal’s owner does not take effective action to control it;
  • or the animal is not housebroken

If a service animal is properly excluded, the individual with a disability has the opportunity to participate without having the service animal on the premises.

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to students using service animals. When a student who is allergic to dogs and a student who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, to the greatest extent possible, to different locations within the room.
The CSD engages in an interactive and collaborative process with students in determining the appropriateness of service animals in training at the University. Service animals in training follow the same rights and responsibilities as service animals that are fully trained.
Yes. Individuals with disabilities are permitted to be accompanied by their service animals on all University of Connecticut campuses where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go, unless the University determines that permitting the service animal poses a health or safety concern, the service animal is not housebroken or cannot be effectively controlled by the owner. The accompaniment of an individual with a disability by a service animal in locations with health and safety restrictions, such as food preparation areas and laboratories, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate department representative(s) in collaboration with the CSD.
No. Under federal law, when it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Faculty and staff may ask two questions:

  1. Is the dog a service animal that is required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Faculty and staff cannot ask about a student’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the student’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the student must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Here are some general tips when working with a student who uses a service animal:

  1. First, remember that the animal is working, so it’s important not to interrupt the animal while it is performing its tasks.
  2. Speak to the person, not the animal.
  3. Do not touch the service animal without asking for, and receiving permission.
  4. Do not make noises at the service animal – this may distract the animal from doing its job.
  5. Do not feed the service animal.
  6. Do not ask questions about the student’s disability, or otherwise intrude on his or her privacy.
  7. Do not be offended if the student does not wish to chat about the service animal.
Assistance animals are described as therapy, comfort, emotional support or companion animals that alleviate one or more identified symptom or effect of an individual’s condition. The assistance performed by the animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Assistance animals, unlike service animals, are not limited to dogs and miniature horses.
Under the Fair Housing Act, assistance animals are only allowed in the student’s assigned room and common use areas in and outside the residence hall in which the assigned room is located, including hallways, lounges, lobbies, laundry rooms, mail rooms, and recreational areas. Assistance animals are not allowed in classrooms.
Yes. If a student with a disability is approved to have an assistance animal, the CSD will also notify the Department of Residential Life.

Still have questions? Please feel free to contact Jennifer Lucia, Associate Director, at (860) 486-2020 or via e-mail at Jennifer.lucia@uconn.edu.

Sources:

Northwest ADA Center. (2012, October). Service Animals: Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed on May 2, 2013 from www.nwadacenter.org

U.S. Department of Justice. (2011, July). ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Service Animals. Accessed on May 2, 2013 from www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm