The Catholic University of America (the “University”) is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and an accessible environment to qualified students with disabilities. Under applicable law, including the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individuals with a qualified disability may request to have a Support Animal as a reasonable accommodation in campus housing facilities that otherwise impose restrictions or have prohibitions on non-service animals in residence. For more information, see the University’s Support Animals Policy, Service Animals Policy and Pet Policy.
In order for a student with a disability to qualify for such an accommodation, an individual must abide by the following Guidelines:
- Owner means a member of the University community residing in a University residence hall that has requested and/or has been approved to have a Support Animal.
- 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.
- Support Animal means an animal that provides emotional support, well-being, or companionship that alleviates or mitigates symptoms of a disability. The presence of the Support Animal must be necessary in order to provide a resident of University-provided housing who has a disability the use and enjoyment of the dwelling. There must be an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance or support the Support Animal provides to the resident. Support Animals are not considered Service Animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). Support Animals also are not pets.
Requests for a Support Animal as a reasonable accommodation are reviewed by the Office of Disability Support Services (“DSS”) on an individual, case-by-case basis through an interactive process between DSS and the Owner. No Support Animal may be present on campus unless the Owner has a current Letter of Accommodation from DSS.
Eligibility for a Support Animal is based on appropriate documentation of a disability and an identifiable relationship between the disability and the support the Support Animal provides to the Owner.
To request a Support Animal, Owners must:
- Request a Housing Accommodation, indicating the request for a Support Animal, through the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS). The Housing Accommodation Request form can be found on the DSS website (dss.catholic.edu).
- Submit supporting documentation from a licensed, treating health care or mental health provider (the “Treating Provider”). The Treating Provider must be reliable and qualified to make the requested assessment and must submit a signed letter on professional letterhead, including their name, title, professional credentials, address, phone number, signature, and date of the report, which states at least the following:
- the Treating Provider’s current, comprehensive diagnosis,
- the Treating Provider’s opinion of the impact of the Owner’s disability or condition on a major life activity,
- the Treating Provider’s opinion concerning the necessity of the Support Animal for the Owner to use or enjoy campus housing,
- The Treating Provider’s assessment of the relationship between the Owner’s disability and the relief the assistance animal provides.
The Treating Provider must specialize in a field consistent with the diagnosis, as well as be familiar with the student and their disability. The Treating Provider should also list any type of training received in the area of human-animal bond in counseling according to the American Counseling Association, Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling Competencies (ACA AAT-C).
To avoid any conflict of interest, the Treating Provider cannot be a family member.
It is strongly recommended that the Owner submit all required materials to DSS prior to the deadline to submit a housing application for the following semester.
- DSS will review all submitted materials and follow up with the Owner. DSS requires at least 10 business days to review requests for a Support Animal and supporting documentation.
The University may consider the following factors, among others, in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable and/or in the making of housing assignments for individuals with Support Animals:
- The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space;
- The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to enjoy peace and quiet;
- The animal is not permitted in the District of Columbia by applicable law or regulation;
- 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 property beyond reasonable wear and tear.
A request for a Support Animal may be denied as unreasonable if the presence of the animal: (1) imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden on the University; (2) fundamentally alters University housing policies; and/or (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.
If DSS determines that a Support Animal is a reasonable accommodation, the Owner should submit the documents outlined in Step 4 below. DSS will then notify the Office of Housing Services and Residence Life of the type of Support Animal and Owner’s name. The Office of Housing Services will in turn notify the other residents of the floor or community where the individual with the Support Animal resides of the type of Support Animal only.
If DSS determines that a Support Animal is not a reasonable accommodation, the Owner may appeal the decision in accordance with the DSS Grievance Procedures.
- After DSS determines that a Support Animal is a reasonable accommodation, the Owner must then submit the following:
- A printed and signed copy of these guidelines to DSS as proof that the Owner has read and agreed to the guidelines.
- If applicable, Owner will discuss with roommate(s) and submit signed Roommate Acknowledgement
- Current vaccination and licensing documentation:
- Proof of up-to-date rabies and distemper vaccinations,
- Proof of sterilization (spaying or neutering), and
- Each dog over four months old must have a District of Columbia license and wear it on a collar at all times.
- Proof of up-to-date rabies and distemper vaccinations (kittens need distemper shots at eight weeks of age, and a booster every three weeks until they are 12–16 weeks old. Their first rabies shot is given at 14–16 weeks, and it is good for one year only. After receiving the second rabies shot, a cat must be re-vaccinated at least every three years), and
- Proof of sterilization (spaying or neutering)
- Other Animals
- Other animals must be in good health, have completed all vaccinations ordinarily required for a healthy animal of that type or species and have documentation from a licensed veterinarian dated within the past year stating that the animal is in good health. Local licensing requirements must be followed. The University reserves the right to request removal of the animal if proper documentation is not up to date.
- DSS will review all documentation outlined in these Guidelines, and if complete and in order, provide the Owner a Letter of Accommodation. The Letter of Accommodation must be kept on the Owner’s person at all while on campus times as proof of accommodation. The Owner cannot bring the Support Animal to campus before receiving a Letter of Accommodation for the current semester from DSS.
- An Owner is required to request an accommodation for a Support Animal every semester. DSS must approve a Support Animal as an accommodation every semester.
- The Support Animal is allowed in University housing as long as it is necessary because of the Owner’s disability. The Owner must notify DSS in writing if the Support Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence. If the Owner wishes to replace one Support Animal for another, a new application and review of the request and animal must be submitted.
- No Support Animal may be in a residence hall without a current Letter of Accommodation.
- Any conflict with another resident relating to the Support Animal will be resolved by the Office of Housing Services, in the Office of Housing Services reasonable discretion, and may result in a change of room assignment for Owner. To ensure that the presence of Support Animals is not an undue administrative burden or fundamental alteration of University housing, the University reserves the right to assign an individual with a Support Animal to a single room without a roommate.
- Support Animals are only permitted in an individual’s University residence and other campus areas approved by the Office of Housing Services. Requests for an animal in areas other than the residence hall room will be considered on a case-by-case basis and require a formal written accommodation from DSS.
Owner Responsibilities for Approved Support Animals:
- All Support Animals must be under the control of the Owner at all times while on campus.
- When a Support Animal is outside the private individual living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. The Owner is liable for all actions of the Support Animal.
- The Owner is responsible for ensuring the Support Animal is contained, as appropriate, when the Owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.
- The Support Animal must be properly cared for and nourished. University personnel shall not be required to or responsible for providing care or food for any Support Animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm.
- Support Animals must be housebroken. Cleaning up the waste of a Support Animal is the sole responsibility of the Owner. The animal’s waste must be removed by placing the waste in a closed container and depositing it in an appropriate outdoor waste receptacle. It is the responsibility of the Owner to immediately clean up any mess created by the Support Animal.
- Any cost incurred by the University to clean up the mess or repair property damage caused by a Support Animal is the responsibility of the Owner.
- All liability and responsibility for the Support Animal (including, but not limited to, bites, scratches, and escape) rests with the Owner. The University encourages the Owner to obtain appropriate liability insurance.
- The Owner agrees to continue to abide by all other University policies.
- Support Animals may not be left overnight in University housing alone or to be cared for by any individual other than the resident. If the Owner is to be absent from his or her residence hall overnight or longer, the Support Animal must accompany the Owner.
- If the Support Animal escapes from the Owner’s room, the Owner agrees to immediately notify the Resident Assistant and Community Director.
- The Owner’s residence may be inspected by the University for fleas, ticks or other pests once a semester or as needed in the University’s discretion. If fleas, ticks, or other pests are detected during inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a University-approved pest control service. The Owner will be billed for this service and the approved Support Animal will not be allowed back in the residence hall until the Owner provides proof that the Support Animal has been treated for the condition by a veterinarian.
Removal of the Support Animal:
The University may remove a Support Animal when:
- The Support Animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others;
- The Support Animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of a University’s program;
- The Support Animal or its presence creates a continued disturbance or interference with the University community;
- The Owner does not comply with these Guidelines for Support Animals or other University policies; or
- The Support Animal repeatedly acts inappropriately or is not under control. In this circumstance, the Support Animal may be excluded from being on campus until it can be demonstrated that the Support Animal’s inappropriate behavior has been addressed and the Support Animal is under control.
Should the Support Animal be removed from the premises for any reason, the Owner is still responsible to fulfill his or her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.
Appeals and Grievance Procedure:
Owner’s who wish to express a grievance or appeal a decision regarding a Support Animal should follow DSS’s Grievance Procedure, found on DSS’ website.
Questions or concerns should be addressed to:
Office of Disability Support Services
The Catholic University of America
Pryzbyla Center 127
620 Michigan Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20064
202-319-5211 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated November 2019