Assistance and Therapy Animals on Campus

Considerations for Policies and Procedures

Topics: Students with Disabilities, Special Populations, Student Experience, Student Affairs

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Research Questions

  • How do other institutions define service and assistance animals?
  • What policies exist in residential, academic, and business areas regarding service and assistance animals?
  • How do other institutions prevent and resolve conflicts (e.g., allergies, waste, noise) involving these animals?


A discrepancy between the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act regarding service versus so-called ‘assistance animals’ has led to several recent lawsuits and considerable consternation among disability services administrators at universities in the United States. This brief examines policies and procedures for both service and assistance animals at four small to mid-size universities, describes the rationale and impact of current policies, and outlines case-by-case procedures related to disability accommodation.