Service & Assistance Animal Procedures

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Disability Support Services: Service and Assistance Animals
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

University Housing and Disability Support Services collaborate to provide resources to support individuals with disabilities. University Housing advocates equal opportunities for students with disabilities based on the principles of independent living, accessibility, and diversity.

Any student with a disability who is planning use of a service or an assistance animal in on-campus housing should contact Disability Support Services 618.453.5738.

Service Animals

Service animal means any dog that is 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks 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.

Individuals with disabilities shall be permitted to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of the University’s facilities where members of the public, participants in services, programs or activities, or invitees, as relevant, are allowed to go.

University staff may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:

  1. The animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it; or
  2. The animal is not housebroken.

A service animal shall be under the control of its handler. A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).University staff are not responsible for any aspects of caring for a service animal.

University staff 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.

  1. Staff may ask if the animal is required because of a disability.
  2. Staff may ask what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

The University will not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Generally, staff will not make these 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).

Any student with a disability who is planning extended use of a service animal in campus housing should contact Disability Support Services 618.453.5738.

The University will make reasonable 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 a disability.

Assistance Animals

An assistance animal is one that is necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University Housing, pursuant to the Fair Housing Act. An assistance animal may provide physical assistance, emotional support, calming, stability and other kinds of assistance. Assistance animals do not perform work or tasks that would qualify them as “service animals” under the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore are not permitted in any other areas than the student's dwelling unit within University Housing.

University Housing will allow an assistance animal if certain conditions are met. The animal must be necessary for the resident with a disability to have equal access to housing and the accommodation must also be reasonable. An accommodation is unreasonable if it presents an undue financial or administrative burden on University Housing, poses a substantial and direct threat to personal or public safety or constitutes a fundamental alteration of the nature of the service or program.

Disability Support Services will determine reasonable accommodations for students who request to have assistance animals in University Housing. 

Students with disabilities who require an Assistance or Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in Housing will need to provide documentation prescribing the animal, complete a University Housing Animal Checklist, and have an open file at Disability Support Services (DSS).

1. Guidelines for documentation prescribing the animal must:

  • Be from a qualified treating professional (physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed mental health worker, etc.)
  • Indicate a DSM 5 mental health diagnosis
  • State what symptoms are reduced/alleviated by having an ESA (preferred)
  • Prescribe an ESA as part of treatment or as having beneficial effects for the student while living on campus
  • Should list the type of animal prescribed

2. Complete and submit a University Housing Animal Checklist to DSS.

3. After these documents are received students will be contacted by DSS to discuss their request for accommodation. If approved, a plan for disability accommodations will be completed.

For questions, call DSS at 618-453-5738.