Saturday, February 27, 2016

Emotional Support/Companion Animals For Students Living In Residence Halls Formally Get OK By University Of Utah

In Salt Lake City, Utah, The Daily Utah Chronicle reports:
  • The standard “no dogs in the residence halls” rule is relaxed a bit for students with disabilities.

    Dependent upon approval from the [University of Utah's] Center for Disability Services, students may be eligible for an emotional support animal, also known as an assistive animal.

    These animals are typically “prescribed” to patients by mental health professionals in the hope of alleviating symptoms or providing other therapeutic benefits through companionship. Because these animals are considered part of a person’s disability treatment, landlords are required to accommodate them in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act.

    U students must provide documentation of a disability that, as outlined in the ADA, “substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Students are also required to submit a letter from a qualified mental health professional detailing the needs fulfilled by their animal and the role it plays in their treatment. Disability Services then reviews the application and, if necessary, alerts housing of the accommodations granted.

    “If the resident has a need and an emotional support animal could help provide that safe and secure environment, an accommodation can be made to ensure that they stay a successful student here at the U,” said Todd Justesen, associate director of resident education on campus.

    Unlike service dogs, which are allowed in all campus buildings without prior approval, companion animals are not allowed in classrooms and must remain in the student’s apartment. Students are responsible to care for both their animal and their living accommodations. Justesen said Housing & Residential Education makes it a point to meet face-to-face with recently-approved students to discuss the policies.

    He said: “We want to make sure the animal is well cared-for and to let students know that if there’s anything else the animal needs, HRE is here to support them.”

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