OSU Emotional Support Animal / Assistance Animal Agreement
Oklahoma State University (“OSU” or “University”) recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the broader category of “Assistance Animals” under the Fair Housing Act that provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. OSU is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities. OSU is also committed to allowing Assistance Animals necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. This Agreement explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an Assistance Animal in University housing.
Although it is the policy of OSU that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in University housing, OSU will consider a request by an individual with a disability for reasonable accommodation from this prohibition to allow an Assistance Animal. Assistance Animal(s) may not be kept in University housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to this Agreement.
A. Assistance Animal
“Assistance Animals” are a category of animals that may work, provide assistance, or perform physical tasks, for an individual with a disability and/or provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s disability, but which are not considered Service Animals under the ADAAA. Some Assistance Animals are professionally trained, but in other cases Assistance Animals provide the necessary support to individuals with disabilities without any formal training or certification. Dogs are commonly used as Assistance Animals, but any animal may serve a person with a disability as an Assistance Animal.1
The question in determining if an Assistance Animal will be allowed in University housing is whether or not the Assistance Animal is necessary because of the individual’s disability to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing and its presence in University housing is reasonable. However, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an Assistance Animal and it is allowed in University housing, an Assistance Animal is not permitted in other areas of the University (e.g. dining facilities, libraries, academic buildings, athletic building and facilities, classrooms, labs, individual centers, etc.).
The “Owner” is the resident who has requested the accommodation and has received approval to bring an Assistance Animal into University housing.
C. Disability Services Office
The Office of Student Disability Services (“Disability Services Office”) collaborates with individuals, faculty, and staff to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to all OSU programs and activities.
Procedures for Requesting Assistance Animals in University Housing
The procedures for requesting Assistance Animals for University housing are outlined below:
A. University housing is unique in several aspects including the mandatory assignment of roommates for many individuals and the mandate that individuals must share a room or suite in certain residence halls. To ensure that the presence of Assistance Animals is not an undue administrative burden or fundamental alteration of University housing, OSU reserves the right to assign or reassign an individual with an Assistance Animal to a single room without a roommate.
B. A student requesting permission to keep an Assistance Animal in University housing must make a formal request to the Disability Services Office. To do so, the student must submit the appropriate “Disability Housing Accommodation Request Form” and, in some cases, documentation of his/her disability for review. Forms must be completed and submitted as soon as a student knows that he/she will be requesting a Service or Assistance Animal, which should be at least 20 days before the student intends to move into University housing. While applications submitted after this timeframe may be accepted and considered, OSU cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet a late applicant’s accommodation needs, including any needs that develop during the semester.
C. If the individual’s disability and the necessity for the Assistance Animal are obvious (e.g. a blind student is seeking to live with her guide dog), the individual need only provide a statement of disability and describe the need on the Disability Housing Accommodation Form. No documentation/verification will be required under these circumstances.
D. If the disability and/or necessity for the Assistance Animal are not obvious, documentation/ verification of the need for an Assistance Animal should follow the Disability Services Office’s guidelines for documentation of a disability, and should generally include the following current (within the last six months) information:
- verification from a physician, psychologist or other licensed professional who is in a position to know about the individual's disability;
- the student’s disability; and
- a statement of how the Assistance Animal is necessary because of the student’s disability to ensure an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing.
E. For all requests for Assistance Animals, the Disability Services Office will consult with Residential Life in making a determination on a case-by-case basis of whether the presence of an Assistance Animal is reasonable. A request for an Assistance Animal may be denied as unreasonable if the presence of the Assistance Animal:
- imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden;
- fundamentally alters University housing policies; and/or
- poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including University property.
F. OSU may consider the following factors, among others, as evidence in determining whether the presence of the Assistance Animal is reasonable or in the making of University housing assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals:
- the size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space;
- the animal's presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies);
- the animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
- the animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
- the animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date;
- the animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others; or
- the animal causes or has caused excessive damage to University housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.
Conflicting Health Conditions
Residential Life staff will make a reasonable effort to notify students in the residence building where the Assistance Animal will be located. Students with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact the Disability Services Office if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a Service or Assistance Animal. The Disability Services Office Coordinator will consider the conflicting needs and/ or accommodations of all persons involved and arrive at a reasonable resolution of any such conflict on a case-by-case basis.
Access to University Facilities by Assistance Animals
An Assistance Animal must be contained within the privately assigned individual living accommodations (e.g., room, suite, apartment) except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief. When an Assistance Animal is outside the private individual living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. Assistance Animals are not allowed in any University facilities other than University housing (e.g. dormitories, suites, apartments, etc.) to which the individual is assigned.
Notwithstanding the restrictions set forth herein, the Assistance Animal must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the dominion and control of the Owner at all times. No Owner shall permit the animal to go loose or run at large. If an animal is found running at large, the Assistance Animal is subject to capture and confinement and immediate removal from University housing.
OSU will not ask for or require an individual with a disability to pay a fee or surcharge for an approved Assistance Animal. OSU personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any Assistance Animal including, but not limited to, removing the Assistance Animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the Assistance Animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the Assistance Animal.
Owner's Responsibilities for Assistance Animal
If the University grants an individual’s request to live with an Assistance Animal, the individual is solely responsible for the custody and care of the Assistance Animal and must meet the following requirements:
- The Owner must abide by current city, county, and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. It is the individual’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations. The University has the right to require documentation of compliance with such ordinances, laws, and/or regulations, which may include a vaccination certificate. The University reserves the right to request documentation showing that the Assistance Animal has been licensed.
- The Owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the Assistance Animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner and, when provided, must use animal relief areas designated by OSU.
- The Owner is required to ensure the Assistance Animal is well cared for at all times. Any evidence of mistreatment or abuse may result in immediate removal of the Assistance Animal and/or discipline for the individual.
- The Owner may be charged for any damage caused by his or her Assistance Animal beyond reasonable wear and tear to the same extent that it charges other individuals for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. The Owner's living accommodations may also be inspected for fleas, ticks or other pests if necessary as part of the University’s standard or routine inspections. If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a University-approved pest control service. The Owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in University housing. The University shall have the right to bill the individual‘s account for unmet obligations under this provision.
- The Owner must fully cooperate with Residential Life staff with regard to meeting the terms of this Agreement and developing procedures for care of the Assistance Animal (e.g., cleaning the animal, feeding/watering the animal, designating an outdoor relief area, disposing of feces, etc.).
- Assistance Animals may not be left overnight in University housing to be cared for by any individual other than the Owner. If the Owner is to be absent from his/her residence overnight or longer, the Assistance Animal must accompany the Owner. The Owner is responsible for ensuring that the Assistance Animal is contained, as appropriate, when the Owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.
- The Owner agrees to abide by all equally applicable University housing policies that are unrelated to the individual’s disability such as assuring that the Assistance Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.
- The Assistance Animal is allowed in University housing only as long as it is necessary because of the Owner’s disability. The Owner must notify Residence Life in writing if the Assistance Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. To replace an Assistance Animal, the new animal must be necessary because of the Owner’s disability and the Owner must follow the procedures in this Agreement when requesting a different animal.
- The individual must provide written consent for Disability Services to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the Assistance Animal to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the Assistance Animal including, but not limited to, Residential Life staff and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the Assistance Animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability.
Removal of Assistance Animal
The University may require the individual to remove the Assistance Animal from University housing if:
- the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others;
- the animal causes substantial property damage to the property of others;
- the animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a University program;
- the Owner does not comply with the Owner’s Responsibilities set forth above; or
- the animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the University community.
The University will base such determinations upon the consideration of the behavior of the particular Assistance Animal at issue, and not on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. Any removal of the animal will be done in consultation with the Disability Services Coordinator and may be appealed to the Vice P
Should the Assistance Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.
OSU will not retaliate against any person because that individual has requested or received a reasonable accommodation in University housing, including a request for an Assistance Animal.
By my signature below, I verify that I have read, understand and will abide by the requirements outlined herein and I agree to provide the additional information required to complete my request for a reasonable accommodation under the University’s Assistance Animal Agreement for University Housing.
Acknowledgement and Release of Information Consent Form
By my signature below, I verify that I have read and understand the above and I agree to abide by the requirements applicable to Assistance Animals. I understand that if I fail to meet the requirements set forth in the Agreement, OSU has the right to remove the Assistance Animal and I will be nonetheless required to fulfill my housing, academic, and all other obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.
I furthermore give permission to the Disability Services Office to disclose to others impacted by the presence of my Assistance Animal, including Residential Life staff, potential and/or actual roommate(s) and neighbor(s), that I will be living with an Assistance Animal as an accommodation. I understand that this information will be shared with the intent of preparing for the presence of the Assistance Animal and/or resolving any potential issues associated with the presence of the Assistance Animal. I will hold Oklahoma State University harmless from any liability for disclosing such information.
I further recognize that the presence of the Assistance Animal may be noticed by others visiting or residing in University housing and agree that Residential Life staff may acknowledge the presence of the Assistance Animal, and explain that under certain circumstances Assistance Animals are permitted for persons with disabilities.
Please complete the following form: