Service and Emotional Support Animal Policy

The University of Louisville (U of L) recognizes the importance of Service and Emotional Support Animals to individuals with disabilities and has established the following policy. This policy ensures that individuals with disabilities, who require the use of Service or Emotional Support Animals as a reasonable accommodation, receive the benefit of the work or tasks performed by such animals or the therapeutic support they provide. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, U of L is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate full participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities. In some circumstances, Emotional Support Animals may be allowed in residence facilities (See Section III: Procedures on Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals in Campus Housing).  Specific requirements and guidelines are provided below concerning the appropriate use of and protocols associated with Service and Emotional Support Animals. U of L reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances require.


Section I. Definitions

Service Animal

A Service Animal is a dog (or in some circumstances, a miniature horse) 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 and meets the definition of “service animal” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 28 CFR 35.104. The work or tasks performed must be directly related to the individual’s disability.

Examples include, but are not limited to: assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Under particular circumstances set forth in the ADA regulations at 28 CFR 35.136(i), a miniature horse may qualify as an alternative to a dog, subject to certain limitations.  The University will make modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse 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 disability.  In determining whether reasonable modifications can be made to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility, U of L shall consider:

  • The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate those features.
  • Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse.
  • Whether the miniature horse is housebroken.
  • Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation.

Contact the Disability Resource Center at 502-852-6938 or the office of the ADA Coordinator at 502-852-5787 for more information specific to miniature horses as Service Animals.

Emotional Support Animal

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that provides emotional support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Some, but not all, animals that provide emotional support are professionally trained. Other Emotional Support Animals are trained by the owners.  In some cases, no special training is required. Unlike a Service Animal, an Emotional Support Animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. Emotional Support Animals may be considered for access to University housing if they meet appropriate qualifications for use under applicable law. Emotional Support Animals are generally not permitted in other University facilities such as libraries, classrooms, athletic facilities, labs, student center, etc., or at University-sponsored events. As with Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals must not be inherently dangerous to others, and must be non-aggressive, under the owner’s control at all times [or well-behaved and/or properly contained when the owner is not present to control the animal, as in the university housing setting], and housebroken. 

Questions relevant to possible use of an Emotional Support Animal in the employment context pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA should be directed to the Employee Relations & Compliance team in the Office of Human Resources at 502-852-6536.  Questions regarding the University’s obligations as to Emotional Support Animals in other contexts should be directed to the ADA Coordinator at 502-852-5787.

Pet

A pet is an animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. A pet is not considered a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal and is not covered by this policy. Residents of University Housing are not permitted to keep pets (with the exception of fish in a 10 gallon tank or smaller) on University property or in University Housing.

Campus Housing

For the purposes of this document, Campus Housing is defined as university or U of L Foundation owned housing facilities.

Section II:  U of L Policy on Service Animals on Campus

In compliance with applicable law, U of L generally allows Service Animals[1] in its buildings, classrooms, residence hall rooms, common area spaces, meeting areas, dining areas, recreational facilities, activities, and events when the animal is accompanied by an individual with a disability who indicates the Service Animal is trained to provide, and does provide, a specific service to them that is directly related to their disability. For information regarding animals in the residence halls, see also Section III: Procedures on Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals in Campus Housing.

Inquiries Regarding Service Animals

In general, U of L will not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability, but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. U of L may ask:

  • is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?  
  • what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? 

The University of Louisville cannot require an individual who uses a service animal to produce documentation of the animal’s credentials, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a Service Animal, nor may a Service Animal be required to display a vest or other visible designation, attire or marking that identifies the animal as a Service Animal. Generally, U of L may not make any inquiries about a Service Animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., 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). Moreover, U of L may not require the animal to demonstrate the tasks the animal is trained to perform.

Specific questions related to the use of Service Animals on the U of L campus by visitors can be directed to the Office of the ADA Coordinator at 502-852-5787.

Responsibilities of Handlers

  • Service animals are not exempt from local animal control and public health requirements.  Handlers are responsible for ensuring that their animals are vaccinated in accordance with the requirements of the applicable Kentucky county.
  • Service animals are subject to local licensing and registration requirements.  Handlers are responsible for registering and licensing their animals in accordance with requirements of the applicable Kentucky county.
  • Handlers are responsible for any damage or injuries caused by their animals and must take appropriate precautions to prevent property damage or injury. The cost of care, arrangements and responsibilities for the well-being of a Service Animal are the sole responsibility of the handler at all times.  In the event of an emergency in which the handler is unable to care for the animal, it is recommended that an emergency contact be provided.  If an emergency contact is unavailable or cannot be reached, Louisville Metro Animal Services may be called to care for the animal.

Students who wish to bring a Service Animal to campus are strongly encouraged but are not required to partner with the Disability Resource Center, especially if other academic accommodations or housing accommodations are required. 

Service Animal Control Requirements

  • The animal should generally be on a leash except when the animal’s providing a needed service to the handler, or the handler’s preparing the animal to perform such a service, requires that the animal be momentarily unleashed.  The animal’s behavior must be under control at all times, whether leashed at a given moment or not.
  • The animal must be housebroken.
  • The animal must be responsive to voice or hand commands as appropriate, and be under the control of its handler.
  • The animal should be non-disruptive to other individuals and the learning, living, and working environment.
  • To the extent possible, the owner should ensure that the animal does not:
    • Sniff or jump on people, restaurant tables, or the personal belongings of others.
    • Block an aisle or passageway for fire egress.

Service Animal Etiquette

Administrators, faculty, staff, students, visitors, and members of the general public should avoid the following:

  • Petting, touching or otherwise distracting a Service Animal when it is working.
  • Feeding a Service Animal. The work of a Service Animal depends on a regular and consistent feeding regimen that the handler is responsible to maintain.
  • Harassing or deliberately startling a Service Animal.
  • Separating or attempting to separate a handler from his/her Service Animal.
  • Making unwelcome or uninvited inquiries regarding the individual’s disability.

Waste Cleanup

Cleaning up after the animal is the sole responsibility of the handler. In the event that the handler is not physically able to clean up after the animal, it is then the responsibility of the handler to hire someone capable of cleaning up after the animal. The person cleaning up after the animal should abide by the following guidelines:

  • Always carry equipment sufficient to clean up the animal’s feces whenever the animal is on campus.
  • Properly dispose of waste and/or litter in appropriate containers.
  • Contact staff if arrangements are needed to assist with cleanup. Any cost incurred for doing so is the sole responsibility of the handler.  

Removal of Service Animals

Service Animals may be ordered removed by the University of Louisville Police Department, in collaboration with Campus Housing, the Dean of Students’ Office, and others as appropriate, for the following reasons:

  • Out of Control Animal: A handler may be directed to remove an animal that is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it. If the improper animal behavior happens repeatedly, the handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal into any university facility until the handler can demonstrate that s/he has taken effective steps to mitigate the behavior.
  • Non-housebroken Animal: A handler may be directed to remove an animal that is not housebroken.
  • Direct Threat: A handler may be directed to remove an animal that U of L determines to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of individuals. This may occur as a result of a very ill animal, a substantial lack of cleanliness of the animal, or the presence of an animal in a sensitive area like a medical facility, certain laboratories or mechanical or industrial areas.

Where a Service Animal is properly removed pursuant to this policy, U of L will work with the handler to determine reasonable alternative opportunities to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the Service Animal on the premises.

Conflicting Disabilities

Some people may have allergic reactions to or phobias of animals that are substantial enough to qualify as disabilities. U of L will consider the needs of both persons in meeting its obligations to reasonably accommodate all disabilities and to resolve the problem as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. Students requesting allergy or phobia accommodations in the residence halls should contact Campus Housing. Students requesting allergy or phobia accommodations in classrooms or other areas of campus should contact the Disability Resource Center. Staff, faculty or visitors requesting allergy or phobia accommodations should contact the Office of the ADA Coordinator.

Emergency Response

The first priority of emergency responders will be to the health and welfare of students, staff, and visitors to the campus community.  While the University expects that emergency responders should be trained to recognize Service Animals and be aware that the animal may be trying to communicate the need for help, responders’ first efforts should be toward the handler. While every effort will be made to rescue the animal as well, there may be certain emergency evacuation situations that necessitate leaving the animal behind.

Service Dogs in Training

In accordance with KRS 258.500, service dogs in training are permitted on campus and in all public facilities on the same basis as working Service Animals, provided that all of the following conditions are met:

  • The dog is being led or accompanied by a trainer for the purpose of training the dog.
  • The trainer must have in their personal possession identification verifying that they are trainers of service dogs.
  • Handlers of service dogs in training must also adhere to the requirements for service animals as outlined in this policy.  Service animals in training are also subject to the same Responsibilities of Handlers, Animal Control Requirements, Waste Cleanup, Removal, and Emergency Response procedures outlined in this policy.

Section III: Procedures on Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals in Campus Housing 

(See Also Section II: U of L Policy on Service Animals)

Students using Service Animals on campus will be permitted to house the dog in the residence halls but must adhere to all provisions outlined in Section II: U of L Policy on Service Animals. Generally, animals/pets are not permitted in residence facilities. Exceptions will be made as an accommodation for a student with a disability who uses a Service Animal in accordance with the applicable disability laws.  Moreover, the Disability Resource Center will engage in an interactive process with the student and Campus Housing to review requests for Emotional Support Animals on a case-by-case basis to determine if the applicant has a disability, if the animal is a reasonable accommodation to afford equal opportunity to use and enjoyment of the dwelling in light of the individual’s disability, and to determine an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides. An accommodation may be determined unreasonable if it presents an undue financial or administrative burden on the University, poses a substantial and direct threat to personal or public safety, or constitutes a fundamental alteration of the nature of the service or program.

Requesting an Emotional Support Animal

Requests for Emotional Support Animals in the residence halls should be made by following these procedures:

  • The student must contact the Disability Resource Center with their request to bring an Emotional Support Animal into Campus Housing.
  • The Disability Resource Center will provide the student with a Request for Information Form which should be provided to the student’s health care provider.  The provider must complete this form to document the need for an Emotional Support Animal in Campus Housing.  Once completed, the student will submit this form to the Disability Resource Center.
  • Preferably, the request and appropriate documentation should be submitted at the time of application to Campus Housing. Extenuating circumstances may require further advance notification to the Campus Housing office (e.g., transferring into Campus Housing during the academic year).  The request and documentation should generally be submitted at least 30 days prior to the anticipated arrival of the animal in Campus Housing, to ensure an appropriate housing assignment.  Under no circumstances should an Emotional Support Animal be brought into Campus Housing without prior written approval from the Disability Resource Center.

Students who bring Emotional Support Animals into Campus Housing are subject to the same Responsibilities of Handlers, Animal Control Requirements, Waste Cleanup, Removal, and Emergency Response procedures outlined in Section II:  U of L Policy on Service Animals on Campus.

Identification

It is recommended that the handler of a Service or Emotional Support Animal living in a residence hall work with Campus Housing to have signage placed on the residence hall door making anyone who might enter (such as Physical Plant for maintenance, the Fire Department or ULPD in case of emergency, etc.) aware that there may be an animal present in the room.  In addition, handlers may opt to have information regarding the presence of a service animal in their housing units supplied to ULPD and or the Fire Department to best ensure safety of the individual and the animal in the event of an evacuation.

Roommates

Residents with Service Animals or Emotional Support Animals who choose not to lease a single occupancy unit should be offered the following options:

  • Campus Housing will place him/her with roommates but it would be inappropriate not to give potential roommates notice that there will be an animal in the housing unit.
  • If a roommate has issues living with the animal, the roommate will be given priority for a room change within the roommate’s current residence hall over others awaiting a room reassignment within the same residence hall.

In order to make arrangements regarding roommates, it is recommended that students intending to bring a Service Animal into a residence hall notify Campus Housing prior to bringing the animal into the residence hall, so that Campus Housing, the student, and/or the Disability Resource Center can engage in an interactive process to determine whether and how the animal can best be accommodated.  Ideally, students should notify Campus Housing of their intent to bring a Service Animal at the time that they apply for housing.

Section IV: Campus Resources

Disability Resource Center, Stevenson Hall, 852-6938

Campus Housing, Stevenson Hall, 852-6636

Human Resources, Human Resources Building, 852-6258 

University of Louisville Police Department, Floyd Street Garage, 852-6111

Office of the ADA Coordinator—Brian Bigelow   SAC W301, 852-5787, brian.bigelow@louisville.edu



[1] This section does not apply to ESAs that do not qualify as service animals; ESAs may be restricted from many university settings where service animals may not, as discussed in Section III of this policy.