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Service Animal Policy

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Service Animal Policy

University Division/Department: Office of Disability Services/Human Resources Department
EFFECTIVE DATE: June 29, 2018

I.            PURPOSE

This policy governs the presence of Service Animals on Villanova University’s campus and property.

II.            SCOPE

This policy applies to all individuals utilizing the assistance of a Service Animal on Villanova University’s campus and property, as well as others who may interact or come into contact with a Service Animal.


 III.            DEFINITIONS

Disability: A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.


Service Animal:  A Service Animal is a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  In certain circumstances, miniature horses may also qualify as Service Animals.  Other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as Service Animals.  Animals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, or companionship do not qualify as Service Animals.


Emotional Support Animal:  An Emotional Support Animal (or “ESA”) is not a pet.  It is an animal that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.  There must be a disability-related need for the ESA.  Unlike a Service Animal, an ESA may not accompany a person with a disability at all times, and is typically only permitted in University housing (dwelling unit and common areas).  For additional information, please consult the University’s Emotional Support Animal Policy.


Owner:  An Owner is the individual utilizing the assistance of a Service Animal on Villanova University’s campus.



Villanova University is committed to compliance with federal and state disability rights laws and recognizes the importance of Service Animals to some individuals with disabilities.  This policy sets forth general guidelines applicable to the presence of Service Animals to ensure these rights are upheld without interruption of University functions.


V.            PROCEDURE

When it is not readily apparent that the animal is a Service Animal, by law only two questions may be asked:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

For Owners who are also students, it is best practice to contact the Office of Disability Services and/or Learning Support Services, as these offices may assist in contacting faculty and staff who should be made aware of the presence of the Service Animal, as necessary and appropriate.

If the Owner intends to reside in University housing with the Service Animal, the Owner should also contact the Office for Residence Life, which will also assist in this process.  Notifying the Office for Residence Life will help to ensure that residential building staff are aware of the Service Animal’s presence in the event of an emergency or work needing to be done to the room.  Early disclosure of the Service Animal by the Owner will allow the Office for Residence Life to address any issues in the event one or more roommates is unable to reside with the Service Animal.  In any such case, either the Owner or roommate may be moved to a different location.

Conflicting Health Conditions:

Students with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact the Office of Disability Services if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a Service Animal.  Employees with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals are asked to contact the Human Resources Department if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a Service Animal.  The University will provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities who will be impacted when in proximity to the Service Animal.

Owner’s Responsibilities:

  • Care and supervision of the Service Animal are the responsibility of the Owner, who is required to maintain control of the Service Animal at all times.
  • The Owner is responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the Service Animal’s waste and must toilet the Service Animal in outdoor areas designated by the University consistent with the reasonable capacity of the Owner.  All animal waste must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied up before being disposed of in the appropriately labeled outside containers.  All bathing/washing care of Service Animals must take place off campus.  If the Owner is unable to ensure cleanup of the Service Animal, please contact the Office of Disability Services and a plan will be established.
  • 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 Owner’s responsibility to know and understand these ordinances, laws, and regulations.
  • The Owner is responsible for ensuring that the Service Animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the University or cause difficulties for students who reside in housing with the Service Animal.
  • The Owner is financially responsible for the actions of the Service Animal including bodily injury or property damage (e.g., replacement of furniture, carpet, window and wall coverings etc.). The Owner will be required to reimburse the University for these costs, as well as any expenses incurred by the University for cleaning required as a result of the Service Animal.  As applicable, the University may post these costs to the Owner’s student account.
  • Service Animals may travel freely with their Owner throughout University Housing and most other areas of the University where the Owner would be permitted.  However, the University may prohibit the presence of Service Animals in certain locations due to health and safety concerns. 
  • Service Animals may not be left overnight in University Housing to be cared for by another student. An Owner leaving campus for a prolonged period must remove the Service Animal from campus.
  • The University is not responsible for a Service Animal during a fire alarm, fire drill, or natural disaster.
  • Owners must continue to abide by all other residential policies.
  • Any violation of this policy may result in immediate removal of the Service Animal from the University.
  • Should the Service Animal be removed from the University for any reason, the Owner is expected to fulfill the housing obligations for the remainder of the academic year.

Requirements for Faculty, Staff, Students and Other Members of the University Community

  • They are not to inquire regarding the nature of the Owner’s disability, request documentation of the Service Animal, or require the Service Animal to demonstrate its task.
  • They are to allow the Service Animal to accompany its Owner at all times and in all places on campus, except where specifically prohibited.
  • They are not to touch or pet a Service Animal unless invited to do so.
  • They are not to feed a Service Animal.
  • They are not to deliberately startle or otherwise taunt a Service Animal.
  • They are not to separate or attempt to separate an owner from his or her Service Animal.

Removal of the Service Animal

The University may exclude or remove the Service Animal if:

1)    The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others;

2)    the animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the University's programming;

3)    the animal or its presence creates an unreasonable disturbance in or interference with the Villanova community; or

4)   the Owner does not comply with this policy.



Emotional Support Animal Policy


VII.            HISTORY

Effective Date: June 29, 2018



Director of Disability Services
Office of Disability Services
800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085|

Associate Vice President
Human Resources Department
800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085



Vice President for Student Life
Division of Student Life
202 Dougherty Hall

Associate Vice President
Human Resources Department
800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085