Approved by: The President
Issued              -- August 19, 2015
Revised            --
Last Reviewed -- August 1, 2019
Related Policies: Support Animals Policy; Information Security and Assurance Policy; Non-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Title IX Compliance Policy; Disability Accommodations for Students Policy; Pet Policy; Reasonable Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities Policy; Residential Services Policies and Procedures
Additional References:
Responsible Official: Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer tel. (202) 319-5590


I. Introduction


The Catholic University of America is committed to promoting full participation and equal access to University programs and activities for individuals with disabilities, and to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Pursuant to these commitments, Service Animals (defined below) are permitted on campus for persons with disabilities in accordance with the requirements of this policy.

II. Definitions


A. Disability means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A disability may be physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental.

B. Handler means the individual who utilizes a Service Animal to perform work or tasks pertaining to that individual's disability.

C. Service Animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or other dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Service Animals perform some of the functions and tasks of normal daily living that an individual with a disability cannot perform. A service animal is a working animal, not a pet. To be considered a Service Animal, the work or task the animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks performed by a Service Animal include:

  • Guiding people with impaired vision
  • Alerting individuals with impaired hearing to the presence of other people or sounds
  • Assisting with opening doors or pushing buttons
  • Aiding persons with impaired mobility by steadying the person when walking
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Retrieving dropped items
  • Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
  • Reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications
  • Recognizing that a person is about to have a psychiatric or neurological episode and responding in a manner that prevents or interrupts the episode, or otherwise protects the person until the episode subsides
  • Providing minimal rescue or non-violent protection work

III. Presence of Service Animals on Campus


Service Animals are permitted inside University buildings and facilities, including residence halls, pursuant to the requirements below. Requests for exceptions to this policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable laws regarding reasonable accommodations.

A. Non-housing Buildings and Facilities


Service Animals are allowed to accompany their handlers at all times and everywhere on campus, except in areas where specifically prohibited due to health, environmental or safety hazards (e.g. mechanical rooms, machine shops, custodial closets, laboratories as defined in the Laboratory Safety and Security Policy, and areas where there is a danger to the animal.) Service Animals also may be prohibited when their presence fundamentally alters the nature of a program or activity.

B. Housing Facilities


Students proposing to have their Service Animals reside in University-provided housing are asked to provide advance notice (at least 30 days) to the Office of Housing Services (tel. 202-319-5615). Advance notice will enable Housing Services to provide appropriate accommodations for the student while also addressing the needs of other students in the housing unit. In the event a student does not provide advance notice the University will make a good faith effort to accommodate the student with the Service Animal to the extent possible.

IV. Permissible Inquiries


Members of the University community who have questions or concerns regarding the behavior of a Service Animal or the presence of a Service Animal in a University facility should not direct their concerns to the individual or handler. Rather, direct all questions or concerns to the Disability Support Services Office (tel. 202-319-5211), the Equal Opportunity Officer (tel. 202-319-4177), or the Department of Public Safety (tel. 202-319-5111).

V. Requirements of Handlers

A. Care, Control and Behavior


The care and supervision of a Service Animal is solely the responsibility of its Handler.

Service animals whose behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or are disruptive to the University community may be excluded from campus, regardless of training or certification. Disruptive or dangerous behavior should be reported to Department of Public Safety (tel. 202-319-5111.)

The Handler must be in full control of the Service Animal at all times. Service Animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered at all times unless these devices interfere with the Service Animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devices. In such circumstances the Handler must maintain control of the animal through other effective controls such as voice commands or other signals.

The Handler of a service animal that is not housebroken or that is unruly or disruptive (e.g. barking, running around lose, nipping, bringing attention to itself, or otherwise not under control) may be asked to remove the animal from campus or from University facilities. If the improper behavior happens repeatedly, the Handler may be required to take significant steps to mitigate the behavior before bringing the animal back to campus or into any University facility. Mitigation may include muzzling a barking animal, obtaining refresher training for both the animal and the handler, or other appropriate measures.

The Handler of the Service Animal is solely responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by the animal. The Handler is responsible for designating an alternative caregiver for the Service Animal in case of an emergency.

B. Identification, License and Tags


If there is no visible harness, identification tag or other gear readily identifying an animal as a Service Animal, University officials may make limited inquiries as allowed by the Revised ADA Requirements and in accordance with section IV, above. Note that DC Code §8-1804 requires that dogs in the District of Columbia be licensed.

C. Health and Sanitation


The Service Animal must be in good health. Service Animals to be housed in campus housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. A Service Animal must be clean and well groomed, and measures should be taken at all times for flea and odor control. The Service Animal must have current vaccinations and immunizations against diseases common to that type of animal. All Service Animals must wear a current rabies vaccination tag.

Handlers are responsible for ensuring the immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste, and for any damage caused by the waste or its removal.

VI. Interacting with Service Animals


Members of the University community should respect Service Animals and individuals with disabilities, and follow these recommended guidelines:

  • Allow a Handler to be accompanied by a Service Animal at all times and places on campus except where specifically prohibited as set forth in this policy.
  • Ask a Handler before petting a Service Animal. Service Animals can be very protective, and petting also may distract them from the task at hand.
  • Only feed a Service Animal with permission from the Handler.
  • Do not separate or attempt to separate a Handler from their Service Animal.
  • The nature of an individual's disability is a private matter. Discussions about an individual's disability should be undertaken only if the disabled individual initiations that discussion.

VII. Conflicting Disabilities


Persons with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (e.g. respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) should contact the Disability Support Services Office or the Equal Opportunity Officer (tel. 2012-319-4177) if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a Service Animal. The individual with the medical condition will be asked to provide sufficient information to identify the condition or disability and the need for an accommodation. The University will consider the needs of both individuals in seeking an efficient resolution.