CSU Policy: Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Policy Title: Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals Category: Student Affairs
Owner: Vice President for Student Affairs Policy ID#: 8-8002-001
Contact:
Resources for Disabled Students
Web: http://www.rds.colostate.edu/
Phone: (970) 491-6385

Also Contact:
Office of Equal Opportunity
Web: http://oeo.colostate.edu/
Email: oeo@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-5836
Original Effective Date: 10/3/2016
Last Major Revision: 9/5/2017
Print Version: Click Here to Print
Attachments to this Policy:

PURPOSE OF THIS POLICY

In accordance with federal laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ("Section 504"), and state of Colorado disability laws, C.R.S. §24-34-801-804, Colorado State University adopts this policy to provide guidance to campus regarding the use of a service dog on university property.

In addition, the federal Fair Housing Act provides that, in some limited cases and with appropriate documentation and approval, emotional support animals that do not qualify as service dogs may be permitted in CSU residential facilities if shown to be necessary to afford a resident student or employee with a documented disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their housing. This policy provides definitions, requirements and guidance for the use of emotional support animals on university property.

APPLICATION OF THIS POLICY

This policy applies to all employees, students, and visitors of the University. 

DEFINITIONS USED IN THIS POLICY

Individual with a Disability: An individual with a disability as defined by Section 504, the ADA and the ADAAA is a person who:

  1. Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
  2. Has a record of such impairment; or
  3. Is regarded as having such an impairment.

Three factors are considered to determine whether a person’s impairment substantially limits a major life activity:

  1. The nature and the frequency of the impairment;
  2. The expected duration of the impairment; and,
  3. The permanency or long-term impact of the impairment.

For further information about major life activities and disability determinations, visit the Office of Equal Opportunity website at: http://oeo.colostate.edu.

Service Dog: Any dog 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 under the applicable laws noted above. (On a limited, case-by-case basis, a miniature horse that has been similarly individually trained may also qualify as a service animal. These are rare). The work or tasks performed by a service dog must be directly related to the individual's disability. Tasks may include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to sounds, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, turning off/on switches, assisting during a seizure, or providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability.

Service dogs in some cases are psychiatric service dogs. Psychiatric service dogs are like other service dogs; they are individually trained in obedience, performing tasks, and working in distracting public environments to mitigate the disabled person’s psychiatric disability. Their function is not to provide emotional support, but to perform tasks which enable the disabled person to function in ordinary ways non-disabled people take for granted.

The term service dog does not include any untrained dog, or any other species of animal (except miniature horses), whether trained or untrained. Animals (including but not limited to dogs) that provide comfort or emotional support to a person with a disability, but that are not individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities, do not meet the definition of a service dog.

Service dogs typically are not puppies. Dogs that are too young to be fully vaccinated, housebroken, trained in obedience, and trained to perform particular tasks to assist their handlers are not suitable service dogs.

Service dogs are not pets. Pets are not permitted in University buildings, except for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and other veterinary facilities in accordance with their rules and policies, or when otherwise specially allowed with advance approval from Environmental Health Services for bona fide academic or university business purposes. See the CSU Policy on Animal Control and Removal.

Handler: The individual with a disability using a service dog on University property, or a person responsible for handling the animal in order to assist the individual with the disability.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA): An animal (other than a service dog) that has been verified by the university to be necessary to accommodate an individual with a disability by providing emotional support, comfort, or therapy in a University housing facility, in order to alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effects associated with its owner’s disability. ESAs are sometimes referred to as therapy, comfort, or companion animals. Pets are not ESAs and are not permitted in University residence halls.

POLICY STATEMENT

The University will not discriminate against individuals with disabilities who use service dogs, nor, subject to the terms of this Policy, deny those persons access to programs, services and facilities of the University. In addition, only under certain limited conditions as stated in this policy, the University may permit an individual with a documented disability to have an Emotional Support Animal in a university residential facility. Pets are not permitted in any university building, including residence halls, except for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and other veterinary facilities in accordance with their rules and policies, or when otherwise specially allowed with advance approval from Environmental Health Services for bona fide academic or university business purposes.

POLICY PROVISIONS

In accordance with the University’s policy on reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities (see http://oeo.colostate.edu/disability) and applicable laws and regulations, the University will accommodate an individual’s need for the use of a service dog or ESA.

Service Dogs

Subject to some limitations, a service dog may accompany an individual with a disability throughout campus, such as in classrooms, recreational facilities and campus residences. It is strongly encouraged, but not required, that a service dog be identifiable to others through a visible signifier (e.g., vest or harness). Individuals with a disability who require a service dog in the classroom are encouraged to contact Resources for Disabled Students (RDS) for assistance with accommodations.

In some instances, miniature horses may also be considered for use by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. However, anyone seeking to use a miniature horse as a service or assistance animal must contact the appropriate office (Resources for Disabled Students for students or the Office of Equal Opportunity for others). In the rare case that a miniature horse is used as an accommodation, all provisions of this policy that pertain to service dogs will also apply.

Service dogs may be restricted from certain areas where considerations of public health and safety, safety of the individual with a disability or of the service dog, or research integrity must take precedence. These include research laboratories where contamination caused by the presence of an animal, or risk of contamination of an animal, may be present; mechanical rooms and custodial closets; medical treatment areas; areas posing dangerous hazards to service dogs; and food preparation areas where public safety regulations prohibit the presence of a service dog. Restricted areas will be identified by the department responsible for controlling access to the area after consultation with the Office of Equal Opportunity. Where restrictions are necessary, access to these areas will be accommodated through other reasonable means to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

There may be a few circumstances when a service dog cannot be accommodated because doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the University’s business. The Office of Equal Opportunity should be consulted in these circumstances.

Causes for Restriction or Removal

Service dogs may be restricted from university property, including university residence halls and apartments, and may be removed by the University, when:

  1. The dog is out of control and its handler does not take effective action to control it; 
  2. The dog is not housebroken;
  3. The dog’s handler is mistreating or neglecting the animal; or
  4. The dog poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service dog that displays vicious or unsafe behavior towards others may be excluded. Each situation must be considered individually.

In order to be under the handler’s control, a service dog must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means). Effective control also includes addressing disruptive behavior such as barking, whining, or pawing at other people.

If a service dog is excluded from an area for one of these reasons, the responsible administrator for the area shall give the individual with a disability the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations without having the service animal on the premises. Assistance with other reasonable means of accommodation may be obtained from the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), in the case of an employee, visitor, or other non-student, or RDS, in the case of a student.

University employees who are responsible for a building or area may exclude pets.  Also, if there is a question whether an animal is a pet or a service dog, employees who are responsible for a building or area may inquire, before allowing a service dog to enter or remain, as to the following:

  1. If the animal is required because of a disability, and
  2. What work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

If the above inquiries are made and as a result it becomes clear that the dog is not a service dog, the dog may be excluded from the building or area by the building proctor, emergency responder, or other responsible administrator. (For example, if the handler responds “no” to the first question or “none” to the second question). If it remains unclear whether or not the dog is a service dog, the dog should be permitted into the area so long as there is no cause for removal as outlined above. If possible, the owner’s name and affiliation with the University should be noted and this information should be relayed to RDS or OEO, as appropriate.

The above inquiries should not be made when it is readily apparent that a service dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, for example, when 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 fact that a dog is wearing a vest or harness, in and of itself, does not make it readily apparent that the dog is specially trained). CSU and its employees may not inquire about the nature or extent of the individual's disability before allowing use of the service dog on campus or require documentation, such as proof that the dog has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. When it is not obvious that a dog is a service dog, it is recommended that the owner make an appointment with RDS to assist in easing the transition to campus and to be provided a letter of verified disability or other form of university certification.

Service Dogs in Training

A dog being trained to perform as a service dog will be treated as a service dog when accompanied by a trainer and identified as such.  Dogs in training are not, however, permitted to reside in university residential facilities. A service dog in training must meet the same requirements as a service dog and must be vaccinated, licensed, housebroken, and under the control of the handler.

Responsibilities of Handlers

The handler of a service dog or ESA will be fully responsible for the control of the animal at all times, whether by harness, leash, voice control, signals, or other effective means. The handler is solely responsible for appropriate care of the animal and for complying with state and local requirements regarding rabies and any other vaccinations (the service dog must wear a valid vaccination tag at all times), as well as state and local requirements regarding licensure and leash control. The handler is responsible for prompt and thorough cleanup and disposal of waste in a closed container and appropriate trash bin. A handler needs to be sure that the animal is vaccinated, in good health, and regularly bathed, groomed and treated for fleas and ticks. The handler will be solely responsible for any damage caused by the service dog or ESA, including damages for an injury such as a bite caused by an uncontrolled animal. CSU is not responsible for the care or supervision of any service dog or ESA.

Guidelines for Members of the CSU Community about Service Dogs

To ensure equal access and nondiscrimination of individuals with disabilities who are using a service dog, members of the CSU community should abide by the following practices:

  1. Allow service dogs to accompany people with disabilities on campus;
  2. Do not ask for details about a person's disabilities;
  3. Do not pet, interact, or feed a service animal, as it distracts the animal from its work;
  4. Do not deliberately startle, tease, or taunt a service animal;
  5. Do not separate or attempt to separate a person from his/her service animal; and
  6. Provide individuals with service animals with the right of way with respect to pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders.

Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) is one that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.  ESAs are not permitted in university buildings, but may be permitted in university housing after approval by the University upon the submission of appropriate documentation, as set forth in this policy. For questions regarding ESAs in the employment context, contact OEO. 

ESAs are permitted when the student or employee residing in a university housing facility has first been determined to be an individual with a disability who has requested an ESA as an accommodation, and that individual with a disability demonstrates that the animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. There must be an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the support that the animal provides. These determinations are made by RDS (for students) or OEO (for employees and others) based on a written request and an individualized determination. The University requires reasonable verification that the ESA is necessary to accommodate the owner’s disability. Reasonable verification is required from a medical doctor, psychologist, audiologist, ophthalmologist, educational diagnostician or other qualified professional with enough knowledge and expertise to reliably establish the necessity of the accommodation. The appropriate office (RDS or OEO) will determine what constitutes reasonable verification on a case-by-case basis, and the University may deny a request for use of an ESA at the University’s reasonable discretion.

Students are not permitted to bring their ESAs into non-residential buildings such as classrooms, laboratories, business offices, recreational facilities, dining halls, Morgan Library, or the Lory Student Center; they are limited to the disabled individual’s residence in a university residence hall, apartment, or other housing unit, and only with prior approval.

Residents are responsible for the behavior of service dogs and ESAs residing with them in the University residential facility. This includes, but is not limited to, maintaining proper control of the animal, cleanup of university buildings and grounds, and liability for any damages caused by the animal. Owners are also responsible for the proper care and treatment of their animal, providing for veterinary care when needed, obtaining all required vaccinations and licenses, and making sure that the animal has adequate food, water, space and supplies. Proof of the animal’s vaccinations and license is required, and the University may require a reasonable inspection of the animal for public health concerns such as fleas and ticks.

An ESA may be excluded from university housing when its behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any animal that displays vicious or unsafe behavior towards others may be excluded.  In addition, an ESA may be excluded from university housing when its owner fails to take proper care of the animal or fails to be responsible for the animal’s behavior. Individuals with a service dog or ESA residing in university housing may be required to complete a supplemental agreement with Housing & Dining Services, in consultation with RDS.

Conflicting Disabilities

When the presence of a service dog or ESA in university housing may substantially impair another individual’s physical or mental wellbeing, including but not limited to an allergic reaction, Housing & Dining Services (HDS) will carefully consider the situation and take steps to address it. This may include relocating either the resident with the ESA or the resident with the mental or physical condition to another room in a location adequate to limit the health concern.  Residents indicating a mental or physical condition will be asked to contact RDS or OEO to provide verification of their mental and/or physical needs.

Colorado Law concerning Misrepresentation of a Service Animal or ESA

Effective January 1, 2017, it is a crime in Colorado to intentionally misrepresent any animal as a service animal or emotional support animal when it is not actually required for an individual with a disability. Pursuant to C.R.S. §18-13-107.7, a person commits intentional misrepresentation of a service animal if:

  1. The person intentionally misrepresents an animal in his or her possession as his or her service animal or service-animal-in-training for the purpose of obtaining any of the rights or privileges set forth in section 24-34-803, C.R.S.;
  2. The person was previously given a written or verbal warning regarding the fact that it is illegal to intentionally misrepresent a service animal;
  3. The person knows that the animal in question is not a service animal or service-animal-in-training.

The same holds true for misrepresentation of an “assistance animal,” or ESA, under C.R.S. §18-13-107.3, when the person intentionally misrepresents entitlement to an animal in his or her possession for purposes of obtaining any right or privilege under state or federal law. Fines for these crimes range from $25 to $500.

COMPLIANCE WITH THIS POLICY

The owner of a service dog or ESA is responsible for complying with this policy and is liable for any damages caused by the animal. In the residence halls and apartments, liability pertains to damages above and beyond the normal wear and tear a tenant might reasonably cause.  Damages may also include an injury such as a bite caused by an uncontrolled animal.

Any person witnessing or experiencing discrimination against an individual with a disability, including the improper exclusion of a service dog, should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity at 970-491-5836 or http://oeo.colostate.edu/contact-us to make a report and receive assistance.

The University’s goal is to help those with needs for service dogs. Anyone requiring assistance or guidance, or with questions about this policy, should contact the appropriate office: Resources for Disabled Students, for help involving students, or the Office of Equal Opportunity, for help involving employees and others.

FORMS AND TOOLS

Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals--FAQs

Resources for Disabled Students--Guidelines on Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

REFERENCES

Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213, 28 C.F.R. 35, 29 C.F.R. 1630

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, section 504, 29 U.S.C. 701, 34 C.F.R. 104, 45 C.F.R. 84.4

Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3604, 24 C.F.R. 100.202-100.204

Persons with Disabilities—Civil Rights, C.R.S. 24-34-801 – 804

Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement to an Assistance Animal, Colo. HB16-1426

APPROVALS

Approved by Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations, effective Oct. 3, 2016

Version 2.0 Approved by Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations,  effective September 5, 2017

 

 

 

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