Disability Services at UMass Amherst

Service Dog /Animal Policy
Disability Services
Service Animal Policy
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Service Animal and Assistance Animal Policy and Procedure

The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for Title ll (State and local government services) and Title lll (public accommodations and commercial facilities) on July 20, 2015, in the Federal Register. These requirements, or rules, clarify and refine issues that have arisen over the past 25 years and contain new, and updated, requirements, including the 2010 standards for accessible design (2010 standards).

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, public institutions are required to allow the use of service animals on college campuses in order to achieve access to programs, activities and services. Under this law, The University of Massachusetts, Amherst is committed to providing appropriate access to all members of the University community. The University wants to ensure for those people with disabilities who use services dogs that they are allowed access to all buildings, classrooms, residence halls, dining areas, recreation facilities, activities and events.


People with disabilities are encouraged to register with Disability Services to ensure equal access to all services, programs and activities on campus. Consumers must complete an intake form and provide Disability Service with medical documentation of disability. Upon certification of disability, the consumer will be eligible for services on campus. If you are and individual with a service dog or an assistance animal and living on campus, Disability Services requests that you provide information regarding the assistance animal.

For information regarding Assistant Animals


Service Animal

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section ADA Requirements for Service Animals states:

  • Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.
  • Generally, Title ll entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allow to go.
A service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the partner’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals 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 an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability, helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. 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 purposes of this definition (ADA, March 15, 2011). Current law also includes miniature horses.

In Training

A dog or puppy being trained has the same rights as a fully trained service dog.


In compliance with both the FHAct and Section 504 and the ADA as they apply simultaneously for housing associated with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst as a public institution are obligated to make reasonable accommodations for Assistance Animals in Residence Halls and housing areas run by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Under this law, The University of Massachusetts, Amherst is committed to providing appropriate access to all on-campus residents with a documented disability.

Other Animals That Qualify as Accommodations

Animals that provide Assistance/Emotional/Therapy Support

Which are recommended by a medical professional for a person with a disability can qualify as an accommodation. Assistance Animals qualify as an accommodation for emotional/therapy support for some disabilities as the animal has a calming influence and provides affection and stability for the well-being, comfort, or companionship. Assistance Animals are not considered the same as a Service Animal because it does not perform tasks to assist with an individual’s daily living.


Any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately. A pet is not considered a service animal because it does not perform a task to assist with an individual’s daily living. Pets ARE NOT allowed on campus.

Reason for Verification of Service Dog/Assistance/Emotional Support/ Therapy Animals

The University of Massachusetts wants to ensure the health and safety of Animals allowed on campus. Animals living in housing will be accounted for in case of emergencies such as fire or other unforeseen events. The animals will be listed in the alarm box so the Fire Department can ensure the safety of the Animal.

Verification of Disability and Need for a Service Dog

A person requesting the use of a service dog in University housing must provide verification of an ADA qualified disability through Disability Services.

Verification of Disability and Need for an Assistance/Emotional Support/Therapy Animal

A person requesting the use of an assistance/emotional support/therapy animal in University housing must provide verification of an ADA qualified disability through Disability Services to receive the accommodation of an assistance/emotional support/therapy animal. For those individuals living in the Residence Hall, An Animal in Residence Registration Form must be filled out to receive accommodation of animal.

Animal in Residence Registration Form

Where Service Animals Are Allowed

Service animals are allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the campus where faculty, staff and students are normally allowed to go.

Where Assistance/Emotional Support/Therapy Animals Are Allowed

Assistance/Emotional Support/Therapy Animals are allowed in the person with a disability’s room only.

Responsibility of Persons with Service Dog, Assistance/Emotional Support/Therapy Animals and Documentation Required


All dogs must have a current rabies vaccination and all other required vaccination for the state of Massachusetts and wear a rabies vaccination tag and have a current license. Assistance/Emotional Support/Therapy animals must have appropriate vaccinations, etc. according to Massachusetts state laws regarding particular animals.



Dogs that are working on campus need to be licensed; as any dog that resides at UMASS has to be licensed.



All animals on campus must be clean and in good health. Dogs and other animals to be housed in University housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian. The University has authority to direct that the animal receive veterinary attention.

Poor Health

Dogs that are sick or in poor health must not be taken into public areas. An owner with a sick dog may be required to remove the dog from University property.


Owners who fail to properly clean up and dispose of the animal waste may be required to remove the animal from University property. Owners of animals that are otherwise unhygienic may be required to remove the animal from University property. A dog or any other animal that becomes wet from walking in the rain or mud, but is otherwise clean, is considered a clean animal.

All Animal Must Be Under Control

All animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or effective controls.

Emergency Situations

In the event of an emergency, the Emergency Response Team (ERT) that responds should be trained to recognize service dogs, assistance/emotional support/therapy animals and to be aware that the service dog may be trying to communicate the need for help. A service dog or other assistance/emotional support/therapy animals may become disoriented from the smell of smoke in a fire or laboratory emergency, from sirens or wind noise, or from shaking and moving ground. Assistance/emotional support/therapy animal may be confused from the stressful situation. The ERT should make every effort to keep the dog, assistance/emotional support/therapy animal with its partner. However, the ERT’s first effort should be toward the partner, this may necessitate leaving a dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal behind in certain emergency evacuations situations.

Conflicting Disabilities

People with medical condition(s) that are affected by dogs, assistances/emotional support/therapy animals (respiratory disease, asthma, severe allergies) should contact Disability Services if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a service dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal. The individual will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s), and will allow determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation.

Guidelines for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the University Community are required to abide by the following practices.

  1. Allow a service dog to accompany its owner at all times and in all places on campus except where it is unsafe for the dog.
  2. Do not touch a service dog unless invited to do so. It distracts them from the task at hand, and service dogs are very protective.
  3. Do not feed the service dog.
  4. Do not deliberately startle a service dog.
  5. Do not separate or attempt to separate a partner from their service dog.
  6. Do not inquire about details regarding the service dog or the person’s disabilities.
  7. Do not hesitate to ask a person if they would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction to turn, an accessible entrance, entrance to an elevator, etc.
  8. Do not ask the person with a disability to remove their service animal from the premises unless. (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not house broken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, you must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain the goods or service without the animal’s presence.
  9. Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. If you are a person who has allergies please contact Disability Services.

Areas Off Limits to Service Dogs

The University may prohibit the use of service dogs in certain locations due to health and safety restrictions (e.g., where the dog may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research). Restricted areas may include, but are not limited to, the following areas: boiler rooms, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, custodial closets, and facility equipment rooms, research laboratories areas where protective clothing is necessary, wood and metal shops, motor pools and rooms with heavy machinery.

Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting Disability Services and/or the appropriate department representative.

When it is determined unsafe for the team to be in one of these areas, reasonable accommodations will be provided to assure the person equal access to the activity.


Owners of service dogs, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal are responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by their dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal.

Disruptive Behavior

A dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal may be removed if its behavior is unruly or disruptive (e.g., barking, growling, running around, chasing other animals or displaying aggressive behavior). If such behavior persists, the owner may be prohibited from bringing the dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal on campus until the owner takes significant and effective remedial steps to correct the dog’s behavioral problems.

Removal of Service Dog, Assistances/Emotional Support/Therapy Animal

The owner of a service dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal may be asked to remove the dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal from University facilities if the owner or dog, assistances/emotional support/therapy animal fails to comply with this policy.


Register with Disability Services as a qualified person with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

Meet with Disability Services to request eligibility for use of an assistances/emotional support/therapy animal while living in campus housing. Disability Services will determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis, and denials may be appealed via the Accommodations Grievance Procedure, available online. Disability Services will orient eligible residents to any pertinent campus-wide policies that may relate to the assistances/emotional support/therapy animal.