Assistance and Service Animal Policy
Assistance Animal Policy
Huntingdon College is committed to providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. The College complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Huntingdon College permits Assistance Animals (often referred to as Emotional Support Animals) in campus residential housing as a reasonable accommodation once the student has met the guidelines under which approval of an assistance animal is determined, and the procedure for requesting housing accommodations has been completed and approved. Please note that if you are found responsible for having an assistance animal without approval, you will be subject to disciplinary actions.
Assistance Animal and other definitions
“Assistance Animals” are animals that provide assistance or emotional support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. For animals to be designated as Assistance Animals, students are required to demonstrate that their animal is a reasonable accommodation for an emotional or mental health disability (defined as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities). Demonstrating this need requires documentation from a treating medical or mental health provider (not related to the student) certifying that the Emotional Support Animal is part of a prescribed treatment plan for the disabling condition and alleviates symptoms or effects of a disability. Assistance Animals may be considered for living in the student’s assigned living space; however, they are not permitted in other areas of the College (e.g., Library, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, Hawks Nest, Dining Hall, kitchen areas, public bathrooms, etc.).
“Service Animals” are dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Service animals are permitted nearly everywhere on campus. Where it is not readily apparent that an animal is a service animal or an emotional support animal, the College may ask whether the animal is a pet. A pet as defined in this policy is a domestic animal kept for companionship or pleasure, and not the mitigation of a documented disability.
A pet is not considered an Assistance Animal or a Service Animal and is not covered by this policy. On-campus residents are not permitted to keep pets on college property or in college housing.
An “Approved Animal” is a Service or Assistance Animal that has been granted as a reasonable accommodation under this policy through the office of Disability Services.
An “Owner” is the student who has requested an accommodation under this policy and has received approval to bring the “approved animal” on campus.
Procedure for Requesting an Assistance Animal
Assistance Animals may not be brought into campus housing without express approval of college officials. The procedures for requesting Assistance Animals in college housing are as follows:
- A student requesting permission to keep an Assistance Animal in college housing must make a formal request to the College’s 504 Coordinator. To do so, the student should submit the College’s Disability Services Intake Form and documentation of their disability to be reviewed by the Committee. Documentation may be submitted via email to Dr. Lisa Olenik-Dorman (firstname.lastname@example.org, or hand-delivered to Staton Center for Academic Enrichment in Houghton Memorial Library, second floor; or call (334) 833-4465). The Disability Services Committee meets at least once per semester to review requests for all accommodations. Requests for Assistance Animals as an accommodation are not guaranteed. The following important dates for requesting housing accommodations are as follows:
Huntingdon incoming first-year students: July 15th for the fall semester
Huntingdon Returning Students: March 1st for the fall semester; November 1st for the spring semester
While applications submitted after these dates will be accepted and considered, Huntingdon cannot guarantee that it will be able to immediately meet applicants’ accommodation needs, including any needs that develop during the semester. Huntingdon College will make a good faith effort to accommodate student needs throughout the semester.
- Where it is not readily apparent that an animal is an Assistance Animal under the FHA, the College may require documentation of the need for an Assistance Animal. Documentation should generally include the following information:
- Be in the form of a letter or report from a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist who is qualified to make the diagnosis and is currently treating you for the disability for which you are requesting an Emotional Support Animal.
- The documentation must be on official letterhead and should be signed and dated within the last year.
- Include a specific diagnosis, a statement of your current condition, the date and a summary of your most recent evaluation, and the expected duration of your condition.
- State the current impact of (or functional limitations) imposed by the condition on your living situation.
- Provide evidence the provider is currently treating you for the condition for which the accommodation is requested.
- Explain how the condition relates to your request for an Emotional Support Animal. There must be a direct link established between the condition and your requested ESA.
- Clearly state a recommendation for an ESA as part of your treatment plan.
- Include possible alternatives if the requested accommodation is not available.
- The Disability Services Committee will review documentation and, if the Committee approves the request, will contact the student after an approval decision has been determined. A formal meeting may be arranged to review this policy with the student. Students in violation of the protocol or policy are no longer eligible for an assistance animal.
The college may consider the following factors, among others, as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable or in the making of housing assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals:
- The animal’s presence otherwise violates individuals’ right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
- The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
- The animal’s vaccinations are not up-to-date;
- The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others; or
- The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.
Huntingdon College will not limit room assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals to any particular building or buildings because the individual needs an Assistance Animal because of a disability.
- Upon approval of an Assistance Animal, Residential Life will be notified as appropriate.
- Upon approval of an Assistance Animal, the student’s roommate(s) or suitemate(s) will be notified to solicit their acknowledgment of the approval, and notify them that the approved animal will be residing in shared assigned living space.
Students using Service animals are not required to register with the Office of Disability Services; however, you may be eligible for academic accommodations if you use a service animal. Students using Service Animals are strongly encouraged to connect with the Office of Disability Services by the established important dates to discuss various housing adjustments that may need to be made.
Conflicting Health Conditions
Students with a medical condition affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact the Office of Disability Services if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to an Approved Animal. Students presenting such concerns will be asked to provide medical documentation identifying the condition so the College can determine whether the medical condition requires accommodation when living in proximity to Service or Assistance Animals.
Owner’s Responsibilities in College Housing
- The Owner is responsible for assuring that the Approved Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for students who reside there.
- The Owner is financially and civilly liable for the actions of the approved animal including bodily injury or property damage. The owner’s responsibility covers but is not limited to replacement of furniture, carpet, windows, wall covering, and the like. The owner is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair and/or move-out. Penalty or recovery for damages to a person or his/her belongings may be sought immediately.
- The Owner is responsible for any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or for repairs to college premises that are assessed after the student and animal vacate the residence. The College shall have the right to bill the Student account of the owner for unmet obligations.
- The Owner must notify both Disability Services and Residential Life in writing if the Approved Animal is no longer needed as an Approved Animal or is no longer in residence.
- If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through routine housing inspections, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a college-approved pest control service. If it is determined that the pests are attributed to the owner’s animal, the owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls.
- (For students in the Residence Halls, College Apartments, or College Housing) All roommates or suitemates of the owner must sign an agreement allowing the Approved Animal to be in residence with them. In the event that one or more roommates or suitemates do not approve, either the owner and animal or the non-approving roommates or suitemates may be moved to a different location.
- Service Animals may travel freely with their owner throughout college housing (and nearly all other areas of the College). Assistance Animals must be contained within the privately assigned residential area (room, suite, apartment) at all times, except for the purpose of waste management and general hygiene of the animal in designated areas.
- Approved Animals may not be left overnight in campus housing to be cared for by another student or residential hall staff. Animals must be taken with the student if the student leaves campus for a prolonged period or boarded locally if the student is off campus. This is to include institution-sanctioned events.
- Housing has the ability to relocate the owner and Approved Animal as necessary.
- Any violation of the above rules may result in immediate removal of the animal from the College.
- Should the Approved Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.
- The Owner undertakes to comply with animal health and wellness requirements outlined below.
Guidelines for Maintaining an Approved Animal at Huntingdon College
The following guidelines apply to all Approved Animals and their owners unless the nature of the documented disability of the owner presents a variance from the guidelines and has been modified and adjusted to meet those needs.
Care and Supervision:
- Care and supervision of the animal are the responsibility of the Owner. The Owner is required to maintain control of the animal at all times. The Owner is also responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the animal’s waste. 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.
- Only the designated areas for Approved Animals may be used for general cleaning of animals.
- Vaccination: In accordance with local ordinances and regulations the animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. All Assistance Animals must
have the normal shots required for a healthy animal. A record of the vaccinations and the date of their expirations must be included in the Disability Services File.
- Animals, other than cats and dogs, to be housed in campus housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the animal or a veterinarian’s statement regarding the animal’s health, re-evaluated at a minimum of an annual basis. The college has the authority to direct that the animal receives veterinary attention.
- Leash: If appropriate, the animal must be on a leash. The Owner must have control of the animal at all times.
- Other Conditions: The College may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the animals depending on the nature and characteristics of the animal.
Requirements for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the Huntingdon community:
Members of the Huntingdon College community are NOT to:
- Touch a Service or Assistance Animal unless invited to do so.
- Feed a Service or Assistance Animal.
- Deliberately startle a Service or Assistance Animal.
- Separate or attempt to separate an owner from his or her Service or Assistance Animal.
- Inquire for details about the owner’s disabilities. The nature of a student’s disability is a private matter protected by law.
Removal of Approved Animal:
The College may exclude/remove an Assistance Animal when 1) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, 2) the animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the College’s program, 3) the owner does not comply with Owner’s Responsibilities in campus housing, or 4) the animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance, interferes with the Huntingdon community, results in substantial physical damage to the property of others, or interferes with the reasonable enjoyment of the housing by others.
The College may exclude/remove a Service Animal if 1) the animal is out of the control and the animal’s owner does not take effective action to control it, 2) the animal is not housebroken, 3) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services, or the owner does not comply with Owner’s Responsibilities in campus housing.
Damage: Owners of Approved Animals are solely responsible for any damage to persons or college property caused by their animals.
Areas Off Limits to Service Animals: A Service Animal is permitted to accompany the student anywhere the student goes on campus, but the College may prohibit the use of Service Animals in certain locations because of health or safety restrictions (e.g. where the animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research).
Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, the following: custodial closets, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, areas where protective clothing and hairnets are necessary, and rooms with heavy machinery. When students with Service Animals must access a restricted area for a course requirement, reasonable accommodations will be provided to assure the student equal access to the academic program or activity.
Areas Off Limits to Assistance Animals: An Assistance Animal is not permitted to accompany the student around campus. The animal is to be confined to the room in which the student lives, except for the purpose of waste management and general hygiene of the animal in designated areas.