Service and Support Animal Policy
The University seeks to meet the needs of its students with disabilities in accord with pertinent federal and state laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and anti-discrimination laws of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This policy is designed to provide guidance regarding the use of Service and Support Animals by enrolled students with disabilities on the University campus and other teaching sites.
If the teaching site is not controlled by the University (i.e. hospital or other clinical education sites, student teaching assignments at other educational institutions, internship placements at external companies, etc.), the site may have other policies or procedures that apply. Students are solely responsible for obtaining approval of external sites and communicating any issues with the Director of Student Disability and Testing Services.
The University defines a Service Animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Other animals, whether domestic or wild, do not qualify as Service Animals. Examples of such work or tasks may include guiding a person with impaired vision, alerting a person with a hearing impairment, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with a mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, and/or performing other duties. Service Animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a Service Animal has been trained to provide 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.
Support Animals (sometimes called "Therapy Animals") are NOT Service Animals even if prescribed by a physician or therapist. While they may be considered for access to University housing, Support Animals are NOT permitted in other areas of the university, such as the Library, academic and administrative buildings, classrooms, labs, athletic facilities, Food Service/Dining areas, and student service facilities such as Bawcom Student Union, Mabee Student Services Center and Mayborn Campus Center.
A pet is an animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. A pet is not considered a Service Animal or a Support Animal. It is not covered under this policy. Individuals are not permitted to keep pets on campus including in University housing, other than fish in an aquarium.
An Approved Animal is a Service or Support Animal that has been granted as an accommodation by this policy.
The Owner is the student who has requested the accommodation and has received approval to bring the approved Service or Support Animal onto campus.
The University provides appropriate adjustments to enrolled students with a documented disability (including commuter student and students living in campus housing).
Residence Life allows Service or Support Animals to live with students in their on-campus residence upon approval by Student Disability and Testing Services and in accordance with this policy.
If a commuter student is initially approved to have a Service or Support Animal and later applies for campus housing, the student is required to contact Student Disability and Testing Services to initiate the portion of the approval process and related forms regarding Service or Support Animals in campus housing.
The University may exclude a Service Animal or Support Animal from its campus or other teaching site if it:
- Poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others;
- Causes substantial physical damage to the property of others;
- Poses an undue financial and administrative burden, or
- Results in a fundamental alteration of the University's program(s).
*Advance approval and documentation verifying a disability are not required for a Service Animal that is clearly doing work or performing tasks for the benefit of an individual with an obvious disability (such as blindness or mobility-impairment). All other rules and procedures described below will apply.
Advance approval must be obtained from the university by the Owner of a Service or Support animal, except as indicated above.*
To receive approval for having any other Service or Support Animal on campus, students should begin by requesting through the Student Disability and Testing Services office. Students must secure and complete a request form and provide appropriate documentation.
The student will be asked to provide documentation verifying:
- That she or he has a disability;
- That the animal is necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal access to the University's educational program; and
- That there is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.
Additional documentation may be requested for Support Animals.
Upon receipt of this documentation, Student Disability and Testing Services staff will initiate a conversation with the student about the University's policy and procedures for use of Service or Support Animals on campus.
If a disability is confirmed and the need for a Service Animal or Support Animal is approved by the University, the student will be provided with a letter of approval from Disability Services. Except in the case of a Service Animal assisting a student with an obvious disability, the student may find it helpful to have the letter available to demonstrate that a Service Animal is approved to enter non-residential facilities on campus (i.e. Library, Mayborn Campus Center).
If appropriate, the student's teachers will be notified by Disability Services that the student has been approved to have the animal present in the student's classes. If the student resides on campus, appropriate notice will also be provided to the Director of Residence Life.
Every student who brings a Service or Support Animal onto campus must sign the Service and Support Animal Agreement. The student must also provide evidence to Student Disability and Testing Services that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated against diseases common to that breed of animal as recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinary records attesting to that fact must be submitted to Disability Services prior to the animal being on campus or other teaching sites.
For Students Who Reside in Campus Housing
If the Service or Support Animal is approved by Student Disability and Testing Services to live with the student in campus housing, the student must next schedule a meeting with the Director for Residence Life or her/his designee to review pertinent Residence Life rules related to the animal. This meeting must occur prior to the animal taking occupancy in order to review the agreement and expectations.
The student's roommate(s), suitemate(s), or those otherwise sharing the living space will be notified of the approval of the Service or Support animal by the Director for Residence Life or her/his designee. All roommates, suitemates, or others sharing living space are requested to sign a notification form acknowledging that the Service or Support animal will be in the residence with them. In the event that one or more of these persons does not consent, Residence Life will reach a resolution of the matter through an interactive process with the appropriate participants.
Service or Support animals which are approved to live with the student in campus housing must be neutered or spayed, if applicable to the species.
Renewal of Approval
Disability Services will determine if any accommodation approved by this policy requires periodic renewal.
Guidelines for Animal Care
- The student who benefits from the Approved Animal's use (the Owner) is responsible for its care and supervision.
- The Owner is also responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the animal's waste and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in areas designated by the University or other teaching site consistent with the reasonable capacity of the Owner. Outdoor animal waste such as dog feces must be immediately retrieved by the Owner, placed in a plastic bag, and securely tied before being disposed of in an outside trash dumpster. For students who reside in campus housing, indoor animal waste, such as cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied up before being disposed of in outside trash dumpsters. Litter boxes should be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto carpeted surfaces.
- The Owner is financially responsible for any damages caused by the animal, including bodily injury and property damage to any private or university property.
- The Owner must effectively control the animal at all times. The animal cannot pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. If the owner cannot effectively control the animal, or if it poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, the permission to keep that particular animal at the campus or other teaching sites will be rescinded until such time as the problem is rectified.
- If any animal neglect is suspected, the university will contact the student and Campus Safety. The entire responsibility of the animal should be taken on by the student. The animal should not be left alone on the campus or other teaching sites for extended periods of time.
- The Approved Animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Cats should have the shots normally required for a healthy animal. Animals other than cats and dogs to be housed in University residences must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation may be a vaccination certificate or a veterinarian's statement regarding the animal's health. The University has the authority to direct that the animal receive veterinary attention.
- The animal should have a tag identifying the owner and providing contact information in case of emergency.
- The University reserves the right to request documentation showing that the animal has been licensed, if required by local law.
- The Owner is responsible at all times for the actions of his or her animal. The student is responsible for any odors, noise, damage, or other conduct of his or her animal that disturbs others or damages property.
- Service Animals may travel freely with their Owner throughout areas of the University, with the exception of areas which may pose a threat to health or safety or create an undue burden (see "Areas off Limits to Service Animals" below). They must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the Service Animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devises. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. The animal cannot be left unattended on campus.
- Areas off Limits to Service Animals: The University may prohibit the use of Service Animals in certain locations because of health and safety restrictions, for example, where the animals may be in danger or their use may compromise the integrity of research. Restricted areas may include but are not limited to the following: custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, areas where protective clothing is necessary, laboratories where chemicals or other elements may be harmful to the animal or where natural organisms carried by the animal may interfere with laboratory activities, rooms with heavy machinery, and areas outlined in state law as being inaccessible to animals, such as food preparation areas. Students must request exceptions to “off limits” areas directly to the Director Disability and Testing Services, who will consult with the appropriate Vice President or Dean.
- The Owner must notify Disability Services in writing if the Approved Animal is no longer needed as an Approved Animal or is no longer in residence. To replace an Approved Animal, the Owner must file a new Service and Support Animal Agreement.
- Any violation of the above rules may result in immediate removal of the Approved Animal from the University and may be reviewed through the Student Conduct system. The Owner will be afforded all of the rights and procedures of that process.
- Support Animals may only be in privately assigned living spaces in housing with prior authorization from Disability Services. Support Animals must be contained within the privately assigned residential area (room, suite, house, apartment) at all times, except when being transported off campus with the Owner or being taken directly to or from appropriate toileting locations (in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness). When outside the residential area, the Owner of a Support Animal shall carry an Approved Accommodation letter as documentation that the animal is approved.
- The Owner is responsible for assuring that the animal does not interfere with the routine of the residence or cause difficulties for students who reside in the unit. Sensitivity to residents with allergies and to those who fear animals is important to ensure a positive residential community.
- Students with medical conditions that are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact Residence Life if they have a health or safety-related concern about exposure to a Service or Support Animal. The University is prepared to also reasonably accommodate individuals with such medical conditions that require accommodation when living in proximity to Approved Animals. Conflicts will be resolved in a timely manner. The potentially conflicting needs of all persons involved will be considered.
- Approved Animals may not be left overnight in University residences to be cared for by another student. Approved Animals must be taken with the Owner if the Owner leaves campus for a prolonged period.
- When an Approved Animal is left alone in a room or residence without a human, it must be kept in a crate, cage, carrier, or other container to ensure that it will not interfere with University staff who may need to enter the unit.
- The student will cover all costs for cleaning, repair, and replacement to return the unit to the same condition as at move-in.
- Residence Life will inspect the residence unit on a regular basis, minimally once per semester. If fleas, ticks, or other pests are discovered, the unit will be treated using fumigation appropriate methods by University-approved pest control services, and the Owner's account will be billed for any pest treatment expenses beyond standard pest management in campus residences.
- If the Owner moves to a different location within University housing, the Director of Residence Life will assign a Residence Life staff member to oversee the move, arranging for staff notification, training, and assistance with reintroduction of the animal to a new community.
- Should the Approved Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations.
Location: Mabee Student Success Center • Third Floor
Address: 900 College Street, Box 8437 • Belton, TX 76513
firstname.lastname@example.org • Phone: (254) 295-4731
Page last updated December 08, 2023