Assistance Animals on Campus
Effective: July 24, 2015
Reviewed/Updated: March 1, 2019
Contact: Student Accessibility Services
Iowa State University is committed to assuring that its programs are free from discrimination and harassment based upon protected classes, including physical or mental disability. Discrimination and harassment impede the realization of the university’s mission of distinction in education, scholarship, and service, and diminish the whole community. For more information see the Discrimination and Harassment policy (see Resources below).
This policy explains Iowa State University’s (ISU) general guidelines and permitted uses of assistance animals, as defined and described below, in providing disability accommodations to students, faculty, staff, and visitors in university buildings and on university property.
This policy does not pertain to pets, animals being used for teaching or research, or animals receiving treatment at the Veterinary Medical Center or College of Veterinary Medicine. For information about such animals on campus, see the Animals on Campus policy (see Resources below). top
Pursuant to applicable state and federal law, the following definitions have been adopted and apply to this policy:
Assistance Animal: A general term referring to any animal providing accommodations to individuals with disabilities. As used within this policy, an assistance animal may be either a service animal or an emotional support animal. For purposes of this policy, assistance animals are not considered pets.
Service Animal: A service animal is individually trained, or in the process of being trained to do specific work or perform specific tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, including but not limited to physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disabilities. The specific work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the person's disability. Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, well-being, or comfort do not qualify as service animals. Under applicable law, dogs and in limited cases miniature horses, are permitted service animals. Other animals do not qualify as service animals.
Emotional Support Animal: Animals providing emotional support, well-being, or comfort that mitigates one or more functional impacts or effects of a person's disability. Emotional support animals may also be referred to as a comfort or therapy animals. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not individually trained to perform specific work or tasks.
Individual with a Disability: An individual with a documented physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; an individual who has a history or record of such an impairment; or an individual who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.
Resident: ISU students residing in university housing and/or paying guests registered for university guest or conference housing operated by the Department of Residence (DOR).
Pet: Any animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. For purposes of this policy, service animals and emotional support animals (collectively termed “assistance animals”) are not considered pets. top
Assistance animals are generally permitted on campus subject to the conditions and restrictions outlined within this policy.
Assistance animal accommodation requests made by students and overnight visitors will be reviewed and assessed by Student Accessibility Services (SAS) consistent with applicable laws and policies. All assistance animal accommodation requests made by employees will be reviewed by University Human Resources Employee Relations/Labor Relations (UHR ER/LR). ISU reserves the ability to make special modifications, within the confines of applicable law, to its policies to reasonably accommodate the person requesting the accommodation.
Emotional Support Animals on Campus
Only residents who have complied with this policy are permitted to have emotional support animals in their assigned university housing units. Residents wanting emotional support animals to reside in university housing must seek and receive approval pursuant to the Procedures and Guidance - Assistance Animals on Campus (see Resources below) prior to the emotional support animal entering university housing. Only one emotional support animal will be permitted per resident and generally only one emotional support animal will be assigned per university housing unit. Emotional support animals are restricted to residential areas and are not otherwise permitted inside other university buildings, including, but not limited to classrooms, dining facilities, recreational buildings, employment areas, libraries, sporting events, and research laboratories. Because emotional support animals are not trained to provide specific work or tasks, visitors and students not residing in university housing, faculty, and staff are generally not permitted to have emotional support animals on campus as a part of any disability accommodation. top
Service Animals on Campus
Service animals are permitted to accompany people with disabilities on all university properties where students, faculty, staff, and visitors are generally allowed to go. A service animal’s access to certain areas on campus may need to be limited where the service animal's presence may cause a fundamental alteration or undue hardship. See the section on Exceptions and Exclusions below. Any such circumstances will be reviewed by SDR (for students and visitors) or UHR ER/LR (for employees) on a case-by-case basis.
All service animals must be housebroken (i.e., trained so that it controls its waste elimination, absent illness or accident) and must be kept under control by a harness, leash, or other tether unless the person is unable to hold those, or such use would interfere with the service animal's performance of work or tasks. In such instances, the service animal must be kept under control by voice, signals, or other effective means.
Students needing a service animal are encouraged to work with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) prior to bringing the service animal to campus to ensure reasonable accommodations are appropriately provided to the student. Students wishing to have their service animal reside with them in university housing will need to comply with this policy and the ‘Procedures and Guidance’ reference (see Resources below).
Faculty and staff (or applicants for employment positions) needing a service animal are encouraged to contact UHR ER/LR prior to bringing the service animal to campus to ensure the disability accommodation request process is followed and reasonable accommodations are appropriately provided to the employee or applicant.
Visitors with inquiries pertaining to service animals may contact either SDR or UHR ER/LR. Visitors may consult the SDR and/or UHR ER/LR websites for additional details relating to process steps. top
ISU may impose some restrictions on, and may even exclude or ban, an assistance animal in certain instances. Restrictions or exclusions will be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with applicable laws. Student Accessibility Services and/or University Human Resources will investigate and address violations of this policy in cooperation with relevant departments and personnel across campus that may include University Counsel, ISU Police, faculty and instructors, Facilities Planning and Management, academic advisors, the Office of Equal Opportunity, etc. Access to university property may be restricted or revoked under the following circumstances.
Assistance Animal Creates a Direct Threat
The assistance animal may be denied access to or banned from campus if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by reasonable modifications. An example of this would be an assistance animal that exhibits aggression or has injured a person or another animal. In considering whether an assistance animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, ISU will make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgment, current medical knowledge, or the best available objective evidence to determine 1) the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; 2) the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and 3) whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.
Assistance Animal is Uncontrolled
An assistance animal may have its access to university property restricted or revoked if the assistance animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to gain and maintain control. An example of this may be an assistance animal that repeatedly gets loose and runs at large, even if it does not physically injure a person or another assistance animal.
Property Damage or Injury Caused by Assistance Animal
The owner of an assistance animal is responsible for any damage to Iowa State University’s or personal property and any injuries to individuals caused by their animal. top
Improper/Inadequate Care for Assistance Animal
Failure to properly care for an assistance animal may result in the animal’s access to university property being restricted or revoked. Additionally, if it appears that anyone has abused or neglected an assistance animal, the university may report the animal abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities, in addition to any other campus remedies (i.e., Student Code of Conduct if the perpetrator is a student; discipline if the perpetrator is an employee).
Assistance Animal is Not Housebroken or Maintained in a Healthy, Clean Manner
Any individual utilizing an assistance animal on campus must ensure the animal is properly housebroken and/or trained. They must also ensure that the animal, and its environment, are maintained in a healthy, clean manner.
Service Animal Fundamentally Alters the Nature of an Educational Program
Students may be denied the accommodation of a service animal in an academic setting if the animal’s presence fundamentally alters the nature of the educational program. An example of this may be a lab course that requires a sterile/clean working environment and the service animal’s presence would compromise the sanitation/operational standards for the lab. Another example may be a lab course involving the use of lab animals and the service animal’s presence will be disruptive to the lab animals. Clarifying note: This exception applies only to service animals, since emotional support animals are generally not permitted to accompany students to class (or to on-campus jobs).
Service Animal Creates Undue Hardship
Students and employees may be denied the accommodation of having a service animal if the service animal creates an undue hardship on the department or in the area where the student or employee works. An example of an undue hardship may be a student or employee working in a lab or area that requires a sterile/clean working environment and the service animal’s presence compromises the sanitation/operational standards for the lab. Another example of an undue hardship may be if the service animal’s behavior disrupts the learning or working environment. Clarifying note: This exception applies only to service animals, since emotional support animals are generally not deemed a reasonable disability accommodation in a classroom, lab, or workspace. top
- Americans with Disabilities Act, Title I, Employment
- Americans with Disabilities Act, Title II, State and Local Governments
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504
- Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title VIII, Fair Housing Act
- Iowa Code Section 216.8A
- Iowa Administrative Code, 681 IAC 13.18, Animals on Campus
- Ames Municipal Code, Sections 3.107 (Rabies Vaccination) and 3.110 (Rabies Tags)
- Procedures and Guidance - Assistance Animals on Campus
- Assistance Animals website
- Animals at Events
- Animals on Campus policy
- Discrimination and Harassment policy
- Student Accessibility Services (SAS)
- Office of Equal Opportunity
- Employee Management, University Human Resources
- Environmental Health and Safety
- Department of Residence