Service Animal Policy

Policy - Animals on Lamar University Property

Effective: July 11, 2016

Responsible Department: Director of Disability Resource Center

POLICY STATEMENT

Lamar University (“University”) values access and equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities bringing animals on University property so that individuals with disabilities will be able to receive the benefit of the services the animals provide and the ability to fully participate in programs, services, or activities.

PURPOSE AND SCOPE

The University supports the use of service and emotional support animals on campus in compliance with applicable law.  This policy serves to promote the health and safety of University employees, affiliates, students and visitors bringing animals on University property and for the protection of University property by establishing guidelines for the presence of animals in University buildings and property.

This policy applies to employees, students, affiliates, and visitors to all University property.

DEFINITIONS

University property:

For the purposes of this policy, University property is all property that is owned, leased, operated and/or maintained by the University. 

Handler:

A person with a disability who is the owner and user of a service animal or emotional support animal or the owner or person bringing an animal onto University property.

Pet:

Any animal that is not trained or employed as a service animal or emotional support animal by the handler. 

Service Animal:

A dog specifically trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The work or task that the dog performs must be directly related to the individual’s disability. This does not include a dog that is in training to become a service animal.  Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to, guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are Deaf and pulling a wheelchair.

Emotional Support Animal:

Any animal that is specifically designated by a healthcare or mental health professional as necessary to affording an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, provided there is an identifiable nexus between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides.  Emotional support animals may include species other than dogs.

POLICY

4.1 General Statement

As stated above, the University will operate within the letter and spirit of the law with regard to the use of service and emotional support animals on campus.  Subject to the provisions contained herein, students, faculty, staff, affiliates or visitors may be allowed to have a service animal (dog) on or in University property where animals would not typically be permitted.  Also, students or staff residing in University residence halls may request as an accommodation that an emotional support animal be allowed to reside in their residence.

4.2  Service Animals

Lamar University welcomes the presence of service animals assisting individuals with disabilities on its campus consistent with the provisions of this policy and applicable law. A service animal is generally permitted to be on University property in any place where the animal’s handler is permitted to be.  Where there is a danger or threat to the safety and well-being of the service animal or where the animal constitutes a fundamental alteration to the nature of a university program or services, the presence of the animal may not be permitted.  In such an event, exceptions will be considered to restricted areas on a case-by-case basis utilizing an individualized assessment, in     consultation with the Director of the Disability Resource Center, Director of Risk Management or the department/ program chair responsible for the restricted area, as most appropriate.

4.3 Emotional Support Animals

In accordance with federal law, Lamar University allows an individual with a disability to keep an emotional support animal within his or her University residence, except to the extent the animal is being taken out for natural relief.  In the latter situation, the animal must be under control, may not be left unattended and must be contained to designated outdoor relief areas. Assistance animals are not allowed in or on any other University property. 

PROCEDURES

5.1 Requesting Permission for Service Animals

5.1.1 Employees - Employees, affiliates and all others performing work for the University who bring service animals onto University property need not request the University’s permission to allow the presence of the service animal on University property, but are encouraged to notify the University of the need for a service animal’s presence in advance of reporting for work with the animal so the University may provide the person with support and information. If the individual needs any other accommodations in the workplace, documentation of the disability and a request for accommodations must be made under the procedures in Human Resources Policy 2.3.4, Requesting Accommodations.

5.1.2 Students - Students who wish to bring service animals onto University property need not request the University’s permission to allow the presence of a service animal on University property, but are encouraged to notify the University of the need for a service animal’s presence in advance of reporting to campus with the animal so the University may provide the person with support and information.  If the student needs any other accommodations while attending the university, documentation of the disability and a request for accommodations must be made to the Disability Resource Center.

5.2 Requesting Permission for Emotional Support Animals

5.2.1 Employees – Employees who reside on University property and who wish to bring emotional support animals onto University property as an accommodation for a disability must request the University’s permission to keep the emotional support animal in University housing. Permission will be granted only as an accommodation for a documented disability and must be arranged in advance through the Housing Office, prior to bringing the animal onto University property. The Department of Human Resources will assist the housing director in determining whether the request represents a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability and should be granted. Requests for emotional support animals determined after an objective assessment of the animal’s conduct to pose a direct threat of harm to others or substantial damage to the property of others, including University property, will not be approved. The employee is not allowed to take an emotional support animal into other buildings on campus, including but not limited to the employee’s work area.

5.2.2 Students – Students who reside on University property and who wish to bring emotional support animals onto University property as an accommodation for a disability must request the university’s permission to keep the emotional support animal in university housing. Permission will be granted only as an accommodation for a documented disability and must be arranged in advance through the Disability Resource Center, prior to bringing the animal onto University property. The Disability Resource Center will assist Residence Life in determining whether the request represents a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability and should be granted. Requests for emotional support animals determined after an objective assessment of the animal’s conduct to pose a direct threat of harm to others or substantial damage to the property of others, including University property, will not be approved. Students are not allowed to take the emotional support animal into other buildings on campus, including classrooms, libraries, administrative buildings, dining facilities or any controlled spaces.

5.3 Visitors

Visitors, including alumni, event attendees, seminar participants, potential students and families on campus tours, vendors and other business visitors to the University property, and all other University property guests, are not required to receive permission from the university prior to bringing a service animal onto University property. We encourage visitors to direct questions to the Disability Resource Center. A visitor to the university who is accompanied by a service animal may not be denied entrance to a specific event or location unless the animal is out of control, non-housebroken, disruptive or is a direct threat to the health and safety of individuals.  Visitors are not authorized to bring emotional support animals on or in University property.

RESPONSIBILITIES

All handlers are responsible for compliance with state and local laws and ordinances concerning animals (including registration, vaccinations, and tags); for controlling their animals; for cleaning up any waste created by the animal; and for any damage caused by the animal to persons or property while on University property.

A service animal handler must retain full control of the animal at all times while on University property.

Animals may not be left unattended or with someone other than the handler at any time on University property, except for service or assistance animals left in the confines of the individual’s University residence by the handler. In the latter case, the animal may not be left unattended overnight.  Animals left unattended may be removed by the University. 

Animals may not be tied or tethered to any University property, including but not limited to buildings, railings, bike racks, fire hydrants, fences, sign posts, benches and trees, unless tied up or tethered in the University residence.

Animals must not be allowed to disrupt or interfere with university activities, including but not limited to teaching, research, service or administrative activities. If the animal is not housebroken, poses a threat to the safety of the handler or others, is disruptive or is out of control, the handler must regain control immediately or the handler may be asked to remove the animal from University property. If the animal remains a threat to the safety of others or remains out of control, the handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal onto University property with such a decision to be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Director of the Disability Resource Center, Risk Management and the department/program chair responsible for the area, as most appropriate. In such an event, the assessment must be an individualized assessment of the specific animal’s actual conduct (and not based on fears, stereotypes or generalizations about the animal).   The University will engage as needed in a good faith process with the individual to determine other accommodations which will effectively allow the individual to fully participate in the program, service, or activity.

The handler is responsible for cleaning up any waste created by the animal and doing so in a safe and sanitary manner.  The handler may be charged any damage caused by the animal beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that other individuals are charged for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear.  The University shall have the right to bill the handler’s account for unmet obligations to the same extent that other individuals’ accounts are billed for unmet obligations.

Handlers are responsible for promptly notifying the University in writing if the emotional support animal is no longer needed or no longer in residence.

Handlers are responsible for ensuring that the animal is well cared for at all times.  Any evidence of mistreatment, abuse or neglect may result in removal of the animal.  Costs of care of the animal are the sole responsibility of the handler, including keeping the animal free from fleas, ticks or other pests that may cause infestation (beyond standard pest management in residence halls).

Members of the University community, affiliates and visitors are prohibited from interfering in any way with a service animal, or the duties it performs.

Offices and departments sponsoring events on University property and hosting visitors on University property are responsible for referring requests for information concerning the presence of service animals at such events or in such offices or departments to the Disability Resources Office.

Generally, individuals who are accompanied by a service animal must not be asked to identify the nature or extent of their disability, the qualifications of a dog as a service animal or about documentation of a service animal’s certification, training or license.

In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, an individual may only ask the following two questions:

1) whether the animal is needed because of a disability, and;

2) what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

For further clarification, the Disability Resource Center or Human Resources can be consulted.

APPEALS

Any individual who feels that he or she has been unfairly denied the ability to bring a service animal onto University property, or who feels that he or she has been unfairly denied the ability to have an emotional support animal in a University residence, may follow the University’s grievance procedure.

EXCLUSIONS (Animals not governed by this Policy

This policy does not apply to:

Animals used in approved university research.

Animals used in classes on campus, based on requests by faculty for such use. (Non-research animals used in classes require prior permission from the appropriate Dean and the Director of Risk Management).

Police dogs and animals used in police search and rescue operations on University property.

Animals trained for and used in a clinical therapeutic setting on campus, such as the counseling center.

Animals used for performance on University property or involved in a University sponsored activity (such as appearances of the official mascot of the University), with advance approval of the Director of Risk management.

References and Cross-references.
Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008
US Department of Justice Service Animal Regulations
Fair Housing Act
Texas Human Resource Code Ch. 121.002
LU Policies