Animals On Campus Policy

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Animals on Campus Policy

Fairfield University recognizes the importance of Service Animals as defined by the American with Disability Amendments Act (ADAA) and the broader category of Assistance Animals under the Fair Housing Act. The University is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of Service Animals on campus to facilitate the individual’s full participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities. The University is also committed to allowing Assistance Animals necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. Further, the University recognizes the value of trained and approved Therapy Animals in providing therapeutic support in times of stress. Animals other than those that fall within these authorized categories are prohibited on campus. Keeping an unapproved animal on campus is a violation of University policy and may result in discipline.

Assistance Animals are animals that work, provide assistance, and/or perform physical tasks for an individual with a disability and/or provide emotional support that eases one or more identified symptoms of a person’s disability, but which are not considered Service Animals under the ADAA or under the University’s Animals on Campus Policy. Such animals may be identified by various names (e.g., companion animal, comfort animal, emotional support animal). 

Owner refers to the individual who is assisted by a Service Animal or who has received approval to bring an Assistance Animal into University housing.  

Pets are defined as any type of animal owned by an individual, other than a Service Animal, Assistance Animal, or Therapy Animal. Service Animals are animals trained to assist individuals with disabilities in the activities of independent living.  As defined by the ADAA, a Service Animal is any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. No other species of animals may serve as a Service Animal. For the purposes of this Policy, Service Animals also may be referred to as “dogs”. 

Therapy Animals are animals that provide affection and comfort and are specifically trained to be gentle and stable in stressful situations. Service animals must be certified by a formal Animal-Assisted Therapy organization recognized in the State of Connecticut. 

The work that the Service Animal is trained to do must be directly related to the Owner’s disability. Examples of the work that the Service Animal is trained to do include but are not limited to:

  • Helping a blind or low-vision person with navigation or other tasks
  • Alerting 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 a person during a seizure
  • Alerting a person to the presence of allergens
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or a telephone
  • Providing balance and stability to a person with a mobility impairment 
  • Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors 

As provided by federal law, 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 purpose of this definition.

In accordance with federal law, Service Animals are allowed in buildings, classrooms, residence halls, dining areas, and/or recreational facilities, and at meetings, activities, and events, when the animal is accompanied by the individual with a disability.The University may prohibit the use of Service Animals in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions or where the animal might be in danger (e.g., food preparation areas, laboratories). Service Animals may not be allowed when the animal poses a substantial and direct threat to the health or safety of others, or if the presence of the animal fundamentally alters the nature of the program or service in which the person with a disability is participating. Determinations of this kind are made on a case-by-case basis. 

If it is not apparent that a dog is a Service Animal, the only questions that University staff are permitted to be asked are:

  1. a) Is the dog required because of a disability (if the disability is not visibly apparent); and b) What work or task has the dog been trained to do?

If (1) the Owner responds in the negative to either question or does not provide information regarding what work or task the dog has been trained to do, and (2) the dog has not been approved by the University as a permitted Assistance Animal and is not on campus as an approved Therapy Animal, the Owner may be asked to remove the dog from the area.

A. Notification Regarding Presence of Service Animal

While there is no requirement for a student to document their disability and the need for a Service Animal as an accommodation under federal law, a student who uses a Service Animal may notify the Office of Accessibility (“Accessibility”) of plans to bring a Service Animal to campus.  

Employees with Service Animals must notify the Office of Human Resources (“Human Resources”) before bringing the Service Animal to work.

B. Guidelines for Service Animals

Students who have a disability that requires the assistance of Service Animals are permitted to bring such animals to campus. Service Animals generally are permitted in all areas of campus where students are permitted to go, except where restrictions are necessary for health and safety.

Employees may be permitted to bring Service Animals to work on campus as a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability after consultation with Human Resources. Employees may be asked to provide reasonable documentation that the animal is needed as an accommodation, including why the animal is needed and what service it will provide for the employee, that the animal is trained to perform that function, and that the animal will not unduly disrupt the workplace.

Service Animals must be under the control of the Owner at all times. If the Service Animal cannot be effectively controlled by its Owner or if the animal is not housebroken, the Owner may be asked to remove the Service Animal from the University. If the University determines that a Service Animal must be excluded, the individual with a disability will be provided the opportunity to participate in the service, program or activity without having the Service Animal on the premises. The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of a Service Animal. A Service Animal shall be at all times controlled by a harness, leash, or other tether, unless (i) the individual is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or (ii) 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 Owner’s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).

Fairfield University recognizes the importance of Assistance Animals that provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities per the Fair Housing Act.  The University is committed to allowing Assistance Animals necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing.  The guidelines set forth below solely apply to Assistance Animals which may be necessary in University housing, and do not apply to Service Animals as defined by the ADAA.

Although individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in University housing, the University will consider a request by an individual with a disability for a reasonable accommodation to allow an Assistance Animal.  Whether an Assistance Animal will be allowed in University housing depends on whether the Assistance Animal is necessary, because of an individual’s disability, to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing, and whether the Assistance Animal’s presence in University housing is a reasonable accommodation.  Note that even if an Assistance Animal is allowed in University housing, it is not permitted in other areas of the University. 

An Assistance Animal is allowed in University housing only as long as it is necessary because of the Owner’s disability. Generally, no more than one Assistance Animal will be approved per Owner. No Assistance Animal may be kept in University housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to this policy. Keeping an unapproved animal on campus is a violation of University policy and may result in discipline. Assistance Animals must be housebroken and generally well-behaved, to be suitable to communal living on campus. Generally, dogs must be at least 12 months old and cats must be at least 6 months old, dogs and cats must be spayed or neutered, and dogs and cats must have received their first rabies vaccination before they can live in University housing. 

If University staff have determined that an animal is not a Service Animal, staff can ask the following question to determine if an animal is an Assistance Animal:

Has Accessibility determined that this animal is an Assistance Animal that may be present as a reasonable accommodation? (for students) or

Has Human Resources determined that this animal is an Assistance Animal that may be present as a reasonable accommodation?  (for employees)

If the Owner answers yes, University staff should not ask any subsequent questions, but may contact Accessibility or Human Resources to verify the information. If the Owner responds in the negative, the Owner will be asked to remove the animal from the area, unless the animal is an approved Therapy Animal whose presence on campus at that time is authorized.

A. Procedures for Requesting Assistance Animals in University Housing

Students requesting Assistance Animals as a housing accommodation should follow the procedure outlined in the University’s Housing - Reasonable Accommodation Policy. Employees requesting Assistance Animals should contact Human Resources regarding their request. Regarding any request for an Assistance Animal in University housing, Residence Life will be consulted 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 in housing may be denied as unreasonable for reasons including but not limited to whether the presence of the animal:

  1. Imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden
  2. Fundamentally alters University housing policies
  3. 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

The University may consider factors including but not limited to the following in determining whether to grant a request to permit an Assistance Animal in University housing: 

  1. The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space
  2. The animal's presence would force another individual from University housing (e.g., serious allergies or conflicting health concerns)
  3. The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment
  4. The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner
  5. The animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date
  6. The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the Owner or others, such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the Owner or others
  7. The animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear.

The University will not limit room assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals to any particular building or buildings based on disability.  

Assistance Animal requests must be renewed every academic year. If an Assistance Animal is returned to campus without proper renewal, the animal may be removed from campus until approval is complete.

B. Assistance Animals – Contained to Housing

An Assistance Animal must be contained within the Owner’s assigned individual living accommodations (e.g., room, suite, apartment), except to the extent the Owner is taking the animal out for natural relief or occasional outdoor exercise or for the purpose of transporting the animal to or from his/her permanent residence or for medical or grooming care. When an Assistance Animal is outside the Owner’s living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a harness, leash, or tether at all times. Assistance Animals are not allowed in any University facilities other than University residence halls to which the individual is assigned.

C. Dominion and Control

The Assistance Animal must be properly housed and restrained or otherwise under the dominion and control of the Owner at all times. The Assistance Animal may not travel throughout campus property with its Owner, and must be contained within the Owner’s designated residence area at all times. When being transported outside the residence area, the Assistance Animal must be placed in an animal carrier or controlled by harness, leash, or other tether. No Owner shall permit an Assistance Animal to go loose or run at large. If an Assistance Animal is found loose or running at large, the animal is subject to capture, confinement, and immediate removal from University housing, and the accommodation will be subject to review and rescission.

Owners are solely responsible for the custody and care of Service and Assistance Animals, and must meet all of the following requirements:

1. The Owner must know and abide by current city, county, and state ordinances, laws, and/or regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements for animals. The University may require documentation of compliance, including proof of current licensing and vaccinations. Service and Assistance Animals must display tags with owner identification and contact information at all times.

2. The Owner is required to clean up after and properly dispose of the animal’s waste promptly in a safe and sanitary manner, using sealed bags for solid waste, and must use animal relief areas designated by the University, when provided.

3. The Owner is required to ensure the animal is well-cared for at all times, at the Owner’s expense. The animal must be kept clean and regularly groomed, and its crate, cage, bedding, and feeding/watering bowls must be kept clean and in good repair. The animal may not be bathed or its cage, crate, or bedding be cleaned within University housing facilities. Any evidence of mistreatment or abuse may result in immediate removal of the Assistance Animal and/or discipline for the Owner. 

4. The University will not ask for or require an individual with a disability to pay a fee or surcharge for a Service or Assistance Animal. The Owner may be charged for any damage caused by a Service or Assistance Animal beyond reasonable wear and tear. The Owner's living accommodations may 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, the residence will be treated 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 the residence halls. The University shall have the right to bill the individual‘s account for unmet obligations under this provision.  

5. The Owner must fully cooperate with University personnel with regard to meeting the terms of this Policy and developing procedures for care of the animal (e.g., cleaning the animal, feeding/watering the animal, designating an outdoor relief area, disposing of feces, etc.).

6. The Owner is responsible for ensuring that a Service or Assistance Animal is contained, as appropriate, when the Owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities. 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 hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany the Owner. The Owner must identify two people who do not reside in University housing and who can take responsibility for the animal within 24 hours in the event the Owner is unable to provide care to the animal, and must provide Residence Life with the contact information for these individuals.

7. The Owner agrees to abide by all equally applicable residential policies that are unrelated to their disability, such as ensuring that the Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.

8.  An Assistance Animal is allowed in University housing only as long as it is necessary because of the Owner’s disability. Owners who are students must notify Accessibility in writing if the Assistance Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. Owners who are employees must notify Human Resources in writing if the Assistance Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. 

9.  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 Policy and the University’s Housing - Reasonable Accommodation Policy when requesting a different animal.

10.  Fairfield University personnel shall not be required to, and will not, provide care for any Service or Assistance Animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm.  Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the animal, and neither Fairfield University nor emergency personnel may be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the animal.

 11. The Owner must provide written consent for Residence Life, Accessibility, and/or Human Resources to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of a Service or Assistance Animal to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal including, but not limited to, Facilities, Public Safety, and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s).  Such information shall be limited to information related to the animal, and shall not include information related to the Owner’s disability. 

12.  The Owner will be liable for any harm caused by a Service or Assistance Animal, including bodily injury or property damage. Any such costs will be due at the time of repair and/or moveout, and the University shall have the right to bill the student account for any unmet obligations. An Owner, whether student or employee, who fails to fulfill any of these responsibilities or to follow this Policy may be subject to discipline.   

13.  The Owner must complete the Fairfield University Service and Assistance Animal Agreement and return it to Accessibility (for students) or Human Resources (for employees).

The University reserves the right to remove or exclude a Service or Assistance Animal from University housing if it determines that:

      • the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or 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 his/her responsibilities under this Policy; 
      • the animal is in poor health or the University has a reasonable suspicion of mistreatment;
      • the animal is not housebroken or kept in a cage where waste can be managed effectively;
      • the animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the University community.

 The University will base any such determination upon the consideration of the behavior of the particular Service or Assistance Animal at issue, and not on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an animal may cause. Determination to remove a student’s animal will be done in consultation with the Office of Accessibility and/or Residence Life, as appropriate, and may be appealed to the Fairfield University’s ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer in accordance with the University’s grievance procedure.  The Owner will be afforded all rights of due process and appeal as outlined in that process. Determination to remove an employee’s Assistance Animal from University housing will be done in consultation with Human Resources and/or Residence Life, as appropriate.

If an Owner is asked to remove a Service or Assistance Animal from housing, the animal must be removed within 24 hours. If the Owner fails to remove the Service or Assistance Animal within 24 hours, the University reserves the right to remove the animal and turn it over to an individual designated by the Owner or to the local animal shelter.  

Should a Service or 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.

The University will notify any roommates of an Owner and will make a reasonable effort to notify the residents of neighboring units to where a Service Animal or Assistance Animal will be located. 

Students with a medical condition that may be affected by animals (e.g., asthma, severe allergies) should contact Residence Life with any health or safety concerns about exposure to a Service or Assistance Animal. Residence Life may request medical documentation to assist in determining whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation. Residence Life, in consultation with Accessibility and/or Human Resources as appropriate, will make every effort to resolve any conflict in a timely manner, taking into consideration the conflicting needs and/or accommodations of each person involved. 

The University will accommodate individuals with medical conditions that require accommodation in order to live, work, or attend class in proximity to Service or Assistance Animals.

Members of the campus community are required to abide by the following practices with regard to Service and Assistance Animals:

  • Allow a Service Animal to accompany its owner at all times and in all places on campus that are open to the general population
  • Do not touch or pet a Service or Assistance Animal unless invited to do so.
  • Do not feed a Service or Assistance Animal.
  • Do not deliberately startle a Service or Assistance Animal.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate an owner from his/her Service or Assistance animal.
  • Do not inquire for details about a person’s disabilities.  The nature of a person’s disability is a private matter.

Fairfield University will not retaliate against any person because that individual has requested or received a reasonable accommodation, including the use of a Service or Assistance Animal.

Fairfield University recognizes that, in times of stress, students and employees may benefit from interaction with an animal that has been specifically trained as a Therapy Animal.  A Therapy Animal is not considered a Service Animal or an Assistance Animal under this Policy.   

A.  Requirement of Certification for Therapy Animals to be Permitted on Campus 

Before a Therapy Animal will be allowed to be on the University campus, the animal must be certified by a formal Animal-Assisted Therapy organization recognized in the State of Connecticut, unless an exception is granted by the University. The employee or external group bringing a Therapy Animal to campus also must be certified by a formal Animal-Assisted Therapy organization recognized in the State of Connecticut, unless an exception is granted by the University.  In limited circumstances, University administrators may approve the presence on campus of Therapy Animals in training.

B. Approval Process for Campus Visits by Therapy Animals

Recurring visits: With approval of appropriate University administrators, a University employee who has received training may schedule specific hours for his/her Therapy Animal to be on campus and available to students or employees who wish to interact with the animal. In order for such recurring visits to be approved, the University employee must submit a written request for approval to Human Resources at least two weeks prior to the commencement of recurring visits.   

The written request for approval must meet, at a minimum, the following criteria: 

1. The hours during which the Therapy Animal will be on campus must be described in detail. 

2. The manner in which the animal will be supervised while on campus must be described in detail. Unless the Therapy Animal is confined to a crate when not interacting with a student or employee, the employee/handler must devote substantially all of his or her time during the visit to supervision of the animal, and the University employee must describe how he or she will accomplish assigned University responsibilities while supervising the animal. When not in a crate, the therapy animal should be on a leash at all times.

3. The location of the recurring visits must be specified. The Therapy Animal should be made available for visits in an area that is easy for those who do not wish to interact with the animal to avoid such contact. The area may be public (such as an area of campus lawn) or private (such as a private office), but such an area should not be office space shared with others (such as a shared office or an office suite). Therapy Animals shall not be in food preparation or service areas.   

The University has the discretion to approve or disapprove a request for a Therapy Animal, whether or not the criteria listed above are met. The decision of the University is final. 

Limited or special occasion visits:  A University employee, or an external group recommended by a University employee, may seek approval for a Therapy Animal to visit campus on a limited basis for special occasions (e.g., mid-term examinations, final examinations). A University employee or external sponsor must provide a written proposal for the Therapy Animal’s visit to Human Resources. The written proposal must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the proposed presence of the animal on campus. In order for limited visits by Therapy Animals to be approved, the proposal must meet, at a minimum, the following criteria: 

1. The proposal must specify the reason (e.g., the special occasion) for the Therapy Animal to be on campus.

2. The proposal must specify the hours during which the Therapy Animal will be on campus and the identity of the certified handler who will be with the animal at all times while the animal is on campus. 

3. The proposal must describe how the University community will be notified of the upcoming presence of the Therapy Animal on campus. 

4. The manner in which the Therapy Animal will be supervised while on campus must be described in detail. Unless the Therapy Animal is confined to a crate when not interacting with a student or employee, the employee or other specified handler must devote substantially all of his or her time during the visit to supervision of the animal. When not in a crate, the Therapy Animal should be on a leash at all times. 

5. The proposal must specify on-campus the location of the Therapy Animal’s visit. The Therapy Animal should be made available for visits in an area that is easy for those who do not wish to interact with the animal to avoid such contact. The area may be public (such as an area of campus lawn) or private (such as a private office), but such an area

should not be office space shared with others (such as a shared office or an office suite). Therapy Animals shall not be in food preparation or service areas. 

The University has the discretion to approve or disapprove a proposal, whether or not the criteria listed above are met. The decision of the University is final. 

C. Additional Requirements for Therapy Animals and Handlers 

It is required that the Therapy Animal wear a harness, cape, identification tag or other gear that readily identifies its status.    

The handler must be in full control of the Therapy Animal at all times. The care and supervision of a Therapy Animal is solely the responsibility of its handler. Except when crated, the Therapy Animal must be on a leash at all times. Exceptions will not be made.

All Therapy Animals must meet local, county, and state license or permit regulations. It is required that therapy animals display an owner identification tag with updated contact information. All therapy animals must comply with local, county, and state vaccination and health requirements. A copy of immunization records must be submitted with a proposal for the animal to be on campus. Animals must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian, including current vaccinations and immunizations against diseases common to that type of animal. Therapy animals must be pest- and parasite-free (i.e., not infested with fleas or ticks). 

The handler must (a) always carry equipment sufficient to clean up the animal’s feces; (b) immediately remove solid waste; and (c) be responsible for the proper disposal of the Therapy Animal’s feces and for any damage caused by the waste or its removal. Crates and cages must be clean and odor-free.

The handler of a Therapy Animal that is unruly or disruptive may be asked to remove the animal from University property. 

Food and water must be supplied by the handler. Food and water must be kept clean, and food must be stored properly. 

Any person who is approved to bring Therapy Animals onto University property, whether on a recurring basis or on special occasions, must provide a commercial general liability certificate of insurance for the handler and Therapy Animal, in an amount deemed acceptable to the University and with the University named as an additional insured.

D. Inquiry as to Status

If University staff have determined an animal is not a Service Animal or Assistance Animal, staff can ask the following question to determine if an animal is a Therapy Animal:

Has the presence of this animal and its participation in a therapy program on campus been approved by Human Resources?

If an individual responds in the affirmative, University staff may contact Human Resources for verification. If an individual responds in the negative, then this animal is likely a pet. Review the “Pets” section for additional information.

Pets are not permitted on University property, including in University housing, with the exception of fish in tanks (10 gallon or smaller).  No other pets are permitted in student residences at any time, even for brief visits.   

The University maintains this pet policy to address the health and safety considerations of its students and staff.  Keeping an unapproved animal on campus is a violation of University policy and may result in discipline.

All laboratory animals or animals used as a part of an academic program are the responsibility of the Academic Division.

Students with questions about the Animals on Campus Policy should contact Accessibility or Residence Life.   

Employees with questions about the Animals on Campus Policy should contact Human Resources.   

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