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Service, Therapy, and Companion Animals on Campus


Service animals and therapy animals are a hot topic nationally. This page provides definitions and explanations of the policies regarding animals on the ISU campus. Please also see the 2010 Revised ADA Requirements.

Individuals with disabilities who use a service animal in public spaces on campus are not required to register with Disability Services (DS), but an individual who wishes to have a service animal in student housing must make a formal request for accommodation.

Service Animals

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as a dog or miniature horse who has reliably been “... individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are hearing impaired to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.” (ADA Title III, 28 CFR Sec 36.104).

Service animals are not considered pets. Businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow individuals with disabilities to bring their service animals with them anywhere they would allow the individual to go without the animal -- unless doing so would pose a danger to health or safety or cause undue burden.

ADA’s Two Questions

In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, ADA allows only two specific questions:

(1) is your dog a service animal required because of a disability?

(2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

It is not acceptable or respectful to require identification or certification or ask about the specific type and nature of disability.  You may not ask that the service animal demonstrate training. The verbal statement of the individual should generally be taken as sufficient proof.

If there is reason to question the legitimacy of a claim at ISU, you should advise Disability Services. DS may be able to request additional information to establish 1. whether the individual has a disability and 2. that the animal has been trained to provide reliable assistance via specific work or tasks that directly mitigate the individual’s disability.

Summary of Expectations, Rights, and Responsibilities Related to Service Animals

  • ADA definitions restrict eligible “service animal” species to dogs, and under special circumstances, miniature horses. Each dog or miniature horse must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks that help mitigate the disability of the individual they serve.
  • The animal must be healthy, hygienic and housebroken.
  • Specific registries, certifications, gear, tags and/or training methods are not required.
  • The animal must be under the handler’s control at all times. If the disability prohibits use of a leash, the handler must have another means of reliably controlling the animal.
  • There are some areas that are restricted to all animals, regardless of their role. If the animal is not under control or is posing a risk to health or safety then the individual may be asked to remove the animal.
  • Unless public interactions are a specific part of their work, service animals should not be touched, fed, or otherwise distracted. They are working animals who must remain attentive to their duties.
  • The individual with a disability (or designated handler) is responsible for the service animal’s health and well-being; as well as any necessary cleanup and/or damage that the service animal may cause.
  • Individuals with service animals cannot be charged extra fees; however individuals will be held responsible for any damage that is caused by their service animal.
  • It is imperative for all responsible parties to stay current in relevant regulations. For Federal regulations, please refer to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, Title III). All regulations are subject to change; additional documentation regarding health and vaccination may be required for animals as deemed appropriate.
  • ISU is committed to balancing the needs of individuals with the needs of the campus community and appreciates the cooperation of all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. If an individual is concerned about exposure to a service animal (e.g.,  the individual experiences severe allergies or phobia) that individual may be asked to provide documentation and the issue will be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Employees With Service Animals

  • There are no specific employer guidelines under Title I/EEOC.
  • Employers should allow the service animal as a form of reasonable accommodation.
  • If the use of the service animal puts an undue burden on the employer, another form of accommodation must be provided that will serve the same purpose.

Emotional Support Animals

Health care professionals have long recognized and documented the therapeutic effects of animal companionship and mental health. Sometimes, when an individual has a documented disability, a mental health care professional may recommend an “emotional support animal” (ESA) as an essential part of treatment.  

It is important to note that emotional support animals are not “service animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ESAs are not trained to provide specific service work or tasks directly linked to an individual’s disability. ESA accommodation is restricted to travel (Air Carrier Access Act, ACAA) and housing (Fair Housing Act, FHA).

ESA Summary

  • An ESA is a companion who provides therapeutic benefit to someone with a verified mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • An ESA is not a “service animal” trained to perform specific work or tasks directly linked to an individual's disability, but rather provides prescriptive comfort to an individual with a mental disability.
  • An ESA is considered a reasonable travel or housing accommodation (dog, cat, or other species), prescribed by the individual’s mental health professional (current medical documentation is required). Please contact your carrier for the latest airline policies on ESAs.
  • ESA’s may not attend ISU classes or campus activities with their handlers.
  • The animal must be healthy, hygienic, and housebroken (reliable means).
  • The animal must be well behaved and under the handler’s control at all times.
  • The animal and handler must not disrupt the normal flow of business.
  • The handler is responsible for the animal’s health and well-being; as well as any necessary cleanup and/or damage that their ESA may cause.

Contact DS for ESA Requests

Requests to have an emotional support animal in ISU campus housing are considered requests for accommodation and will be reviewed on an individualized basis by DS. ESA’s are not permitted to attend ISU classes or activities. Individuals making requests must:

  1. Establish that they experience a documented disability
  2. Establish that the animal is providing essential therapeutic benefit related to the documented disability and
  3. Must provide current documentation from a mental health provider.

After obtaining appropriate documentation, please call the DS office for an appointment: (208)  282-3599.

For more information please see the following;

Therapy Animals

Registered therapy animal handlers volunteer their time to visit with their animal partners in the community. Working closely with their handlers, therapy animals are focused on serving others. Both members of these well trained teams have a special aptitude for interacting safely with members of the public and enjoy doing so. Registered therapy animal teams are often invited to ISU to offer respite and joy to students, faculty, and staff during finals week or during special educational programs.

Therapy Animal Summary

  • Registered therapy animal teams can provide affection, comfort, occupational therapy, education and entertainment to members of the public; typically in facility settings such as hospitals, assisted living, and schools.
  • Therapy animal teams have no special rights of access, except in facilities where they are welcomed. For example, therapy animals may not enter businesses with “no pets” policies or accompany their handler in the cabin of an airplane regardless of their therapy animal status.
  • Therapy animal teams must be formally invited to visit at ISU as part of an official university sponsored program or educational event.
  • Both members of the volunteer team must be healthy and hygienic when visiting.
  • The animal must be housebroken (reliable means).
  • The animal must be well behaved and under the handler’s control at all times.
  • The animal and handler must not disrupt the normal flow of business.
  • The handler is responsible for the animal’s health and well-being; as well as any necessary cleanup and/or damage that their therapy animal may cause.

 Pets | Companion Animals

Pets and/or companion animals are not allowed on campus unless permission is first obtained from Public Safety. Although interactions with animals are known to provide measurable benefits to owners both with and without disabilities, general benefits do not qualify pets and companion animals to accompany their handler-owners on campus. In the State of Idaho, leaving your pet unattended in your vehicle during prolonged inclement weather (hot or cold) is unlawful. Please give your pet(s) the day off and leave them safely at home.