Campus Access for Service Animals and Process to Request Comfort Animals in Housing

Campus Access for Service Animals 

Service animals are allowed in university buildings, classrooms, residence halls, dining areas, recreational facilities, meetings, activities and events when accompanied by a person with a disability and the service animal is trained to provide, and does provide, a specific service to that person that is directly related to the person’s disability.

  1. Service animals may not be permitted if the animal poses a substantial and direct threat to the health or safety of others or when the animal’s presence will require a substantial  alteration to the nature of a university program or service.
  2. The accompaniment of a person with a disability by a service animal in a location with health and safety restrictions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate department representative(s) in collaboration with the Department of Human Resources or the Office of Disability Access.
  3. A person with a disability will be limited to one service animal unless an additional animal is necessary to provide reasonable accommodation.
  4. Service animals in training that are accompanied by an approved trainer are allowed the same access to the university as fully trained service dogs, except, animals in training are not permitted to reside in university residence halls.
  5. University Residence Halls. A student with a service animal who intends to reside on campus with the animal, must notify the Department of Housing and Residence Life of the need for a service animal’s presence in advance of beginning residency. Such notification allows the university to make appropriate arrangements and offer assistance prior to the student’s arrival on campus.

Inquiries Regarding Service Animals

Individuals who are accompanied by a service animal must not be asked to identify the nature or extent of their disability.  In regard to a service animal:              

  1. University officials will not inquire about the qualifications of a service animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or to perform a task for a person 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 a person with an observable mobility disability).
  2. If it is not readily apparent that an animal is performing work or a task on behalf of an individual with a disability, university officials may only inquire:
    1. Whether the animal is required because of a disability; and,
    2. What work or task the animal has been trained to perform.
  3. Individuals are not required to have a letter of accommodation to use a service animal at the university.
  4. University officials will not require documentation of a service animal’s certification, training or license as a service animal.

Accommodation Process for Requesting Comfort Animal in Campus Housing

According to UNT Policy 04.026, accommodation requests for a comfort animal must be filed with the Office of Disability Access. The accommodation request must document the link between the presence of the comfort animal and a documented disability. Generally, dogs and cats are commonly requested as comfort animals; although other animals may serve in this capacity. For the health and safety of residents, the university is not required to grant non-domesticated or unique animals such as snakes, reptiles, barnyards animals, moneys, spiders, or other insects as reasonable accommodations.

An approved comfort animal must be contained within the campus housing unit of the owner, except when transported outside the residential area in an animal carrier or controlled on a leash or harness. Comfort animals are not permitted in any other university facilities.

Comfort Animal Requirements

  1. Vaccinations.  Comfort animals must have required vaccinations or license pursuant to local law. Dogs must wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  2. Licensing.  The owner must abide by current city, county and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to the licensing, vaccination, and other requirements of animal ownership applicable to the owner’s species of comfort animal. It is the owner’s responsibility to know and understand all applicable ordinances, laws, and regulations in addition to university policies applicable to their comfort animal. The university has the right to request documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws and/or regulations, which may include presentation of vaccination certificate(s), registration or licensing documentation.
  3. Types of Animals:  Generally, dogs and cats are commonly requested as comfort animals; although other animals may serve in this capacity. For the health and safety of residents, the university is not required to grant non-domesticated or unique animals such as snakes, reptiles, barnyards animals, moneys, spiders, or other insects as reasonable accommodations.
  4. Age. Comfort animals must be at least six months of age.
  5. Documentation.  The university reserves the right to require updated veterinary records or other evidence of the health of the animal at any time.
  6. Annual Verification.  Completion and submission of forms with accompanying records to verify current subscription for comfort animal and vaccination and good health of the comfort animal must be provided prior to each fall term of residence to the Department of Housing and Residence Life. No comfort animal will be permitted in university housing without annual submission of the above described documents.

If the animal is returned to campus without submission of the appropriate documentation to the Department of Housing and Residence Life, the university may request the owner remove the animal from campus within 48 hours of notification. If the animal is not removed as requested, university authorities may consider the animal a trespasser and contact the appropriate City of Denton authorities to remove the animal from campus.Any costs associated with removal of the animal from UNT property are the responsibility of the animal’s owner.

The specific steps for requesting a Comfort Animal are as follows:

  1. A student must submit all completed applicable forms and accompanying vaccination documents to the Office of Disability Access which includes:
    1. ODA Registration Form by logging into AIM Student Portal (if new to ODA). If you are currently registered with ODA, login to AIM Student Portal and submit an “Additional Accommodation Request.”
    2. Submit the forms included in the Comfort Animal in Campus Housing Request Packet (pdf).
      • Comfort Animal in Campus Housing Accommodation Request Form
      • Documentation of disability that supports each accommodation request
      • Annual Verification of Vaccination/Animal Health Form (pdf) and accompanying documents - this information will be shared with the Department of Housing and Residence Life. 
  2. A student should provide recent documentation of the disability and disability-related need for a comfort animal from a qualified provider (treating psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional). Documentation must meet ODA’s documentation guidelines (see documentation criteria below).
  3. Requests for comfort animals will reviewed on an individualized basis.
  4. Students will be notified of the committee’s decision by their assigned ODA Student Services Coordinator by email.  If the request is approved, the Department of Housing and Residence Life will notify the student of any applicable housing policies and owner responsibilities. 
  5. The ODA will also submit the following information to the Department of Housing and Residence Life for compliance purposes. Student will be responsible for updating this information annually with the Department of Housing and Residence Life.
    1. Annual Verification of Vaccination/Animal Health Form – to be completed only by licensed Veterinarian
    2. Picture of the Certificate of Registration with city of Denton (if applicable)
    3. Picture of rabies tag (if applicable)
    4. Comfort animals must have required vaccinations or license pursuant to local law. Dogs must wear a rabies vaccination tag
    5. Current color picture of animal
  6. Incomplete applications and documentation will not be reviewed, and students will be notified by his/her Student Services Coordinator.  Questions about the forms or information required should be addressed to ODA.
  7. A denied request for this accommodation may be appealed by filing a complaint with the ADA Coordinator in the Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity located in Hurley Administration Building Room 175. The ADA Coordinator may also be reached at (940) 565-2759 or via email at oeo@unt.edu.

Documentation Criteria

Documentation of a significant mental health disability and the associated need for a comfort animal should come from a mental health provider with whom an established provider-patient relationship exists and can explain how the presence of the animal may help to alleviate one or more symptoms or effects of the disability.

ESA/Comfort Animal certificates, ID badges, vests, online registries, etc., are not necessary nor considered in the approval process of an ESA.   Please consider this information before spending money on the purchase of such letters, as they will rarely provide the information necessary to support a Comfort Animal/ESA request, and are not viewed by the institution as a reliable source of information.

Completed forms can be submitted to ODA via email at Apply.ODA@unt.edu (preferred) OR mail, fax, or deliver in person to: UNT ODA, Sage Hall 167, 1155 Union Circle #310770, Denton, TX 76203, Fax: 940.369.7969, Phone: 940.565.4323

Responsibilities of Comfort Animal Owner

It is an expectation of the ODA and the Department of Housing and Residence Life that you will review and abide by UNT Policy 04.026, Office of Disability Access guidelines, and Department of Housing and Residence Life policies, procedures, and community standards.

The comfort animal owner’s responsibilities and examples of what may result in removal of a comfort animal can be found in UNT Policy 04.026 (refer to the policy at https://policy.unt.edu/sites/default/files/04.026%20(15.013)_AnimalsOnCampus.pub2_.2020linl.pdf for specifics). Please be sure to review any additional policies, procedures, and community standards of the Department of Housing and Residence Life.

Back to Top