Assistance Animal Protocol

Assistance Animal Protocol


A pet is any domesticated animal that is kept solely for companionship. Assistance animals (service and support animals), as defined below, are not considered pets. Pets are not permitted in university housing, except for fish in 10 gallon tanks or less.

Assistance Animals

This protocol applies to assistance animals that may be used by individuals with disabilities at Eastern Connecticut State University. The term “assistance animal” is the overarching term that refers to both service animals as well as support animals, defined below.

Definition of an Assistance Animal:

  • An animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.
  • An animal that provides emotional or other type of support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.

Service Animals

According to the ADA, “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

Examples of a Service Animal:

  • Guide Dog, or Seeing Eye Dog, is a carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool for persons with severe visual impairments or who are blind.
  • Hearing or Signal Dog is a dog that has been trained to alert a person with significant hearing loss or who is deaf when a sound, e.g., knock on the door, occurs.
  • Psychiatric Service Dog can be trained to perform a variety of tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and lessen their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine; providing safety checks, or room searches, or turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders; and keeping disoriented individuals from danger.
  • SSigDOG (sensory signal dogs or social signal dog) is a dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the handler to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping).
  • Seizure Response Dog is a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. How the dog serves the person depends on the person’s needs. The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure or the dog may go for help. A few dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance to sit down or move to a safe place.

Use of a Service Animal on Campus

Service animals will be permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of Eastern’s facilities, including university housing, where students, members of the public, and other participants in services, programs or activities are allowed to go. Eastern does not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Individuals accompanied by a service animal on campus but who do not need any disability-related accommodations are not required to register with the OAS, nor is such individual required to submit a request for a reasonable accommodation to receive access of his or her service animal.

Additionally, Eastern cannot ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability to determine whether a person’s animal qualifies as a service animal. However, when it is not readily apparent that a dog is a service animal, OAS staff may make two inquiries to determine whether the dog qualifies as a service animal, which are:

  1. Is the dog required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

The OAS will assess requests for the use of miniature horses by people with disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Requests should be submitted to the OAS and, consistent with applicable laws, the OAS may make modifications in its policies to permit their use if they meet certain criteria and have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of people with disabilities.

Support Animals

A support animal is defined as any animal or pet with a primary purpose of providing a person with a disability emotional comfort, and is not considered a service animal. These animals are not required to undergo specialized training and do not provide assistance to individuals in the activities of daily living. Per the ADA, animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals. However, under the FHA, a request to have a support animal in campus housing is considered a request for an accommodation and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Use of a Support Animal on Campus

Support animals are generally not allowed to accompany persons with disabilities in all public areas of Eastern as a service animal is allowed to do, but a support animal may reside in university housing, including accompanying such individual in all public or common use areas of university housing, when it may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy university housing. Before a support animal can move into university housing with a person with a disability, the student must submit a Housing Accommodations Application to the Office of Housing and Residential Life as soon as the student registers with the OAS. Housing accommodations depend on availability of space and are not guaranteed.

If the disability is not obvious, the OAS may require documentation from a licensed physician or mental health provider, including a qualified psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional, to provide sufficient information for the OAS to determine:

  • That the individual qualifies as a person with a disability (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities); and
  • That the support animal may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy university housing (i.e. that the animal would provide emotional support or other assistance that would ameliorate one or more symptoms or effects of the disability).

While support animals are generally not allowed indoors on Eastern’s campus other than in university housing, people with disabilities may request approval from the OAS to have the support animal accompany them to other campus areas. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis consistent with applicable laws.

Animal’s Rights and Responsibilities


Any assistance animal may be removed from campus temporarily or permanently if the animal is uncontrollable and disruptive (e.g. barking, off leash or out of control, aggressiveness toward others (people or animals), disruption of classes, in poor health, or consistently unclean or unhealthy to the extent that the animal’s behavior or condition poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others).

Etiquette for ECSU Campus

  • Do not pet an assistance animal; it distracts the animal from its responsibilities.
  • Do not feed an assistance animal; the animal may have specific dietary requirements.
  • Do not deliberately startle or distract an assistance animal.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate an owner from his/her assistance animal.

Owner’s Rights and Responsibilities

Agreement Form

The student must complete an Assistance Animal Agreement Form.

Health and Vaccinations

The care and supervision of an assistance animal is the full responsibility of the owner. Animals on campus must have an annual clean bill of health (including vaccinations and immunity shots against rabies and/or other diseases common to the type of animal) that is signed by a licensed veterinarian. The owner must ensure that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated.  All vaccinations must be current and dogs must wear a rabies tag at all times. Owners need to make sure that the animal is kept clean as possible. Regular bathing/grooming and pest control measures also need to be performed by the owner.

Owner ID Tag

The animal must wear an owner identification tag (owner name and contact information) any time the animal is on campus.


The animal must be harnessed or leashed when the animal is in a public area (classroom, library, common area of a residence hall, outdoors on campus, etc.), unless these devices interfere with the assistance animal’s ability to perform a task that it could not accomplish while on a leash. In this case, the owner must maintain control over the animal through voice, signal, or other control. The owner does not need to keep the assistance animal on a leash in private areas assigned to the owner (e.g., the owner’s residence hall room).

Clean Up

The owner is responsible for cleaning up animal waste. This will result in placing the waste in a closed container and then removing the container to an outdoor trash bin. Persons who are not physically able to pick up and dispose of feces are responsible for making all necessary arrangements for assistance. The University is not responsible for these services.

Animal Behavior

The animal will be the full responsibility of the individual with a disability. The owner must be in full control of the animal at all times. The care and supervision of an assistance animal is the sole responsibility of its owner. The animal must be maintained and used at all times in ways that do not create safety hazards for other people. If the animal is not under control or poses a risk to the health or safety of others, then the individual may be asked to remove the animal.  The owner is responsible for the cost to repair any damage done by the assistance animal to University property.