Service and Assistance Animals FAQ

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