Assistance Animal Requests

Assistance Animal Policy

Assistance animals may also be known as companion, therapy, comfort or emotional support animals. Assistance Animals are not pets. When approved as a disability-related accommodation, an Assistance Animal may live with a student in University Housing, and must be kept within the residential setting in which the student lives. Assistance Animals may not accompany the student outside of the residential setting, and are not allowed in any other buildings on University property, nor are they allowed in other controlled spaces on campus. Assistance Animals are distinct from Service Animals, which are limited to dogs or miniature horses that are trained to perform specific tasks. (Please see the related Service Animal Policy for additional information.)

Policy Overview

A student with a disability who lives in University Housing and wishes to request an Assistance Animal as a disability-related accommodation must submit a request with supporting documentation to Disability Services and Programs (DSP) in advance of bringing the animal to campus. Assistance Animal requests are reviewed and approved by DSP on an individual, case-by-case basis through an interactive process between DSP, Residential Education, Housing and the student. Eligibility for this accommodation is based on appropriate documentation of a disability, and an evident link between the functional limitations of that disability and the need for an Assistance Animal as an accommodation in order to allow the student equal access to the Residential Education experience.

Assistance animals are not limited by type or breed. They are not required to have special training, certification or be licensed as an assistance animal. The assistance performed by the animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability and supported by appropriate documentation that meets the University’s documentation guidelines. An assistance animal must 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).

In general, Assistance Animals are only allowed in the residence hall, campus apartment or common spaces within the residential community to which the individual with a disability is assigned. However, the Assistance Animal may not be allowed in common spaces if the animal’s presence poses a health or safety threat to the environment, to other residents, or to the animal itself, or if the animal is not under the control of its owner. Assistance animals may not accompany the student outside of the residential setting, and are not allowed in any other buildings on University property, nor are they allowed in other controlled spaces on campus.


Accommodation Request Process:

To initiate the accommodation request/review process, a student should submit a request for a Housing Accommodation to DSP, and include the specific request for an Assistance Animal accommodation. The request and review process must be completed prior to the animal arriving on campus. Students should allow for a minimum of 2 weeks for the review process to be completed. DSP strongly encourages students to initiate this process well in advance of the housing request and placement process to allow for the complete file review process in advance of housing arrangements being finalized.

The University will give priority consideration to the specific accommodation(s) 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. Approval of this accommodation may not guarantee immediate implementation of the accommodation in University housing.

The student will be expected to provide documentation of the disability that:

  • Is a thoroughly completed Disability Verification form appropriate for the nature of the disability (ex: Psychiatric Verification Form for psychiatric-related disorders), completed and signed by a qualified and credentialed practitioner, who is not a family member of the student.
    • Please note: Because a majority of the requests for an Assistance Animal Accommodation are related to psychiatric disorders, we generally regard a qualified practitioner to be a licensed mental health provider, a psychiatrist, or a physician who is licensed by their state to assess and treat psychiatric conditions.
  • Is 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;
  • Indicates the start, duration and frequency of treatment by this provider;
  • Includes an explanation from the treating professional regarding the student’s disability or condition, and the impact of the condition upon a major life activity;
  • Includes an explanation from the treating professional addressing the necessity of the Assistance Animal for the student to use or enjoy campus housing; and
  • Includes an explanation from the treating professional regarding the relationship between the student’s disability and the relief the assistance animal provides.

The University/DSP may inquire, as part of the accommodation review process, about the following:

  • The nature and extent of a student’s disability that substantially limits a major life activity;
  • If the Assistance Animal is necessary to allow the student to use or enjoy her or his residence;
  • The relationship between the student’s disability and the relief the animal provides; and
  • Documentation showing the animal is in compliance with all required state and local requirements associated with licensing, vaccinating and other health care for animals.

A new request for housing accommodations must be completed for each new academic year. This request should include updated veterinary and licensing information for the animal.

If approved for an Assistance Animal accommodation, the student will need to meet in-person with a DSP staff member to review and sign the Assistance Animal Agreement form, acknowledging the policies, rights and responsibilities that accompany this accommodation.

Additionally, if approved for this accommodation, the student will meet with Residential Education staff to develop a roommate contract related to the Assistance Animal prior to the animal arriving on campus.

DSP will provide students approved for this accommodation an Accommodation Letter, verifying the status of the Assistance Animal as an approved accommodation. DSP will also communicate the approval directly to the Housing division of the University.


Rights & Responsibilities of the Student (owner) approved for an Assistance Animal

  1. The student must be approved to have the assistance animal as an accommodation before bringing the animal to campus. A student may not misrepresent the role of the animal or the student’s status as a student registered with a disability and approved for the accommodation of an assistance animal. Misrepresentation could result in the animal being immediately removed from campus at the student’s expense and other disciplinary action.
  2. An Assistance Animal must 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).
  3. The owner is responsible for assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for others. The owner must always be in control of the animal.
  4. The owner is financially responsible for the actions of the animal, including bodily injury or property damage. The owner’s responsibility covers but is not limited to replacement of furniture, carpet, window, wall covering, and the like. The owner is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair.
  5. The owner is responsible for any expenses incurred in cleaning (above and beyond a standard cleaning) or for repairs to University premises that are assessed after the student and animal vacate the residence. The University shall have the right to bill the student owner’s student account for unmet obligations.
  6. The owner is responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the animal’s waste, and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in areas designated by the University consistent with the reasonable capacity of the owner. 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.
  7. The owner is responsible for providing appropriate care for the animal to ensure the overall health and well-being of the animal, appropriate for the type and breed, including compliance with all California state and local laws concerning animals (e.g., registration, vaccinations, and tags) as well as annual documentation of the health of the animal from a licensed veterinarian.
  8. The owner agrees to abide by all other residential policies. An Assistance Animal accommodation is granted as an exception to the University’s No Pets policy, and does not constitute an exception to any other policy.
  9. Owners of animals that are impounded are responsible for the payment of any impound and/or any fees required to secure the release of their animals.
  10. Should the animal be removed from the premises by the University for any reason, the owner is responsible for any costs associated with the removal, transportation and/or boarding of the animal. Additionally, the owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

Violation of the above rules or incidence of other violations may result in removal of the animal from the University and, if appropriate, other disciplinary action. If the Assistance Animal is banned from campus, DSP will continue to work with the student to determine if there are other appropriate accommodations that would allow the student to access the residential experience and programs.

Rights & Responsibilities of DSP regarding the Assistance Animal accommodation

  • To determine whether the student’s request to keep an Assistance Animal in University housing is an appropriate and reasonable accommodation by following the established documentation guidelines and interactive file review process.
  • To communicate the outcome of the review to the student. For students approved for this accommodation, DSP will meet with the student to review the Assistance Animal Agreement form for the student’s signature.
  • To provide verification and information to Residential Education staff regarding students who are approved for this accommodation.
  • To assist in resolving any issues that arise regarding this accommodation.

Rights & Responsibilities of the University regarding approved Assistance Animals

  1. The University may ask a student to remove any animal that has not been previously approved by DSP as an accommodation of an Assistance Animal. The University may ask the student to provide the Letter of Accommodation verifying the approval, and may seek verification from DSP about the approval.
  2. The University may ask a student 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, the animal is not housebroken, it poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others, causes substantial physical damage to the property of others, disrupts the living environment for other residents, or poses an undue financial and administrative burden to the University.
  3. The University may remove any Assistance Animal if the student owner fails to comply with her/his responsibilities under this policy.
  4. The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of an assistance animal.
  5. The Office of Residential Education retains the right to relocate the owner and approved animal as necessary.
  6. The University shall not charge a surcharge for the Assistance Animal; however, the University does have the right to bill the student owner’s student account for unmet obligations or fees associated with damage caused by the Assistance Animal that exceeds what is considered “normal wear and tear” on a residence hall room.