Service and Assistance Animals

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive environment for students with disabilities, as well as to complying with all applicable provisions of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1972, and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
Section I: Guidelines Regarding Service and Assistance Animals:
A: Service Animal Defined

A Service Animal is a dog that has been individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as Service Animals.

Examples of such work or tasks include, but are not limited to, guiding individuals with no or low vision, alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing, pulling a wheelchair, recognizing and assisting during a seizure, retrieving items, interrupting obsessive, compulsive, or destructive behavior, reminding a person with a psychological or psychiatric disability to take prescribed medications, assisting with balance, or calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. Service Animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a Service Animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as Service Animals.

B: Assistance Animal Defined

An Assistance Animal is an animal that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. Unlike a Service Animal, an Assistance Animal does not perform ADA-defined "work" or "tasks," and thus is not permitted to accompany a person with a disability at all times. Therefore, although Assistance Animals may be considered for access to University housing, they are generally not permitted in other areas of the University, except as outlined in the Pet Policy in the CWRU student handbook.

The type of animal approved as an Assistance Animal will be considered on a case-by-case basis by ESS Disability Resources.

C: Documentation Requirements

Requests from individuals to keep Service Animals in University housing do not require provision of disability documentation to ESS Disability Resources, unless it is not readily apparent that an animal qualifies as a Service Animal.

Requests to keep Assistance Animals in University housing do require provision of disability documentation to ESS Disability Resources, unless the animal is otherwise permitted under the CWRU Pet Policy, http://students.case.edu/handbook/policy/campus/pet.html.

For Assistance Animals, newly registered students should:

  • Complete the New Student Application for ESS Disability Resources through the Accessibility Information Management (AIM) system, located here: https://andes.accessiblelearning.com/CWRU.
  • Submit supporting documentation through the AIM system
  • Submit the Assistance Animal Request Form [Click here to download]
  • Meet with an ESS Disability Resources staff member regarding the request for accommodations

More information about general documentation requirements is available here:

Students that are registered for other accommodations should meet with an ESS Disability Resources staff member to determine what additional documentation is required.

Documentation for Assistance Animal requests, and when necessary for Service Animal requests, must be from a qualified physician or mental health professional who has knowledge of the disability and of the specific student. The physician/mental health professional must be trained and qualified to render a diagnosis and to recommend accommodations for that particular disability.

The documentation must include:

  • Verification that the individual has a disability for which the animal is needed
  • An explanation of how the animal assists the student, including whether the animal has undergone any training
  • State an identifiable relationship between the disability and assistance the animal provides

If an Assistance Animal is approved as a housing accommodation, the requestor will be notified by an ESS Disability Resources staff member. Once approved, the requester will be required to meet with the Associate Director for University Housing, the Office of Residence Life RCD and/or the Associate Director for the Greek Life Office, and an ESS Disability Resources staff member to complete an Owner's Agreement Form to provide basic information about the animal, including license/registration information (for dogs), and to sign indicating their agreement to comply with, and understanding of, these guidelines.

To substitute an Assistance Animal the resident must update the Assistance Animal Owner Agreement form by contacting University Housing and/or the Greek Life Office.

If the request for the Service or Assistance Animal is not approved as a housing accommodation, students may request an appeal as outlined on the ESS Disability Resources website under policies and procedures: https://students.case.edu/education/disability/policies/policy.html.

The resident should inform the Director for the Office of Residence Life (or their proxy), Associate Director for the Greek Life Office, University Housing and ESS Disability Resources in writing if the Service or Assistance Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence.

Section II: University Housing Resident's Responsibilities for Service or Assistance Animals
A: Presence on Campus and in University Housing Facilities

A Service Animal may accompany the resident throughout campus, including University Housing.

An Assistance Animal must be contained within the individual's residence hall unit at all times, except when transported outside the private residential unit in an animal carrier or controlled by leash or harness for toileting or exercise. Assistance Animals may be permitted in outside areas on campus grounds in accordance with the CWRU Pet Policy, http://students/case.edu/handbook/policy/campus/pet.html.

When outside the residence, a resident with an Assistance Animal shall carry proof that the animal is an approved accommodation by ESS Disability Resources. ESS Disability Resources will provide a letter confirming the Assistance Animal's status.

Service Animals do not require a letter confirming their status.

Leash expectations: The animal must be leashed using a leash that is 6' in length or less, harness or tether or securely confined in a crate or carrier, unless (1) the resident is unable to use a leash, harness, or tether due to disability or (2) use of such a restraint would impede the animal's safe and effective performance of its work or task.

If a resident has placed a work order for their bedroom or residential unit, it is the resident's responsibility to make sure that the animal is confined to a cage or kennel to ensure the animal is not released from the room if the resident will not be present to control the animal.

Vaccination: In accordance with local ordinances and regulations the animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Although not mandated, cats should have the normal shots required for a healthy animal. Dogs or cats must be spayed or neutered.

Licensing: The City of Cleveland/Cleveland Heights licensing requirements must be followed. A copy of the license must be on file with University Housing or the Greek Life Office.

Identification: Collars and identification/rabies tags must be worn at all times on dogs and cats, unless a microchip identification is implanted. Residents are expected to provide University Housing updated vaccination and licensing information yearly.

Liability: All liability for the actions of the animal (bites, scratches, etc.) is the responsibility of the resident. The resident is legally and financially responsible for the actions of the Service or Assistance Animal including bodily injury or property damage. The resident's responsibility includes, but is not limited to, replacement or restoration of furniture, carpet, window, wall covering, and the like. The resident is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair and/or move-out.

Other Conditions: Housing may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on the animal depending on the nature and characteristics of the animal.

B: Care and Maintenance of Service or Assistance Animals in University Housing

The care, supervision, and control of Service and Assistance animals are the responsibility of the individual who benefits from the approved animal's use. All approved Service and Assistance Animals must comply with applicable laws regarding animals and their treatment and care, and must meet the following standards:

  • Animals require daily food, water, and attention, as well as daily assessment of their general health, behavior and overall welfare.
  • The resident must also ensure that their animal is kept clean and well groomed. Animals that are excessively unclean (e.g., repeated soiling of facilities, flea-infested, foul-smelling and/or shedding excessively) may be excluded from University Housing facilities.
  • Service and Assistance Animals are not allowed to be bathed or groomed in areas that are shared by other students, faculty, or staff. All basic grooming should take place in the resident's room or off-campus.
  • Any flea infestation must be attended to promptly by scheduling a professional extermination company under University contract at the owner's expense. Residents are expected to promptly notify University staff (through the area office and/or maintenance request system) and arrange for extermination when a flea problem is noted. Residents must take precautionary measures such as: flea medications prescribed by veterinarians, flea and tick collars, and taking your animal to the veterinarian for flea and tick baths. Residents will be responsible for all extermination costs.
  • A Service or Assistance Animal may not be left on its own in the resident's unit for more than 24 hours. If the resident must be away for more than 24 hours, they must either take the animal with them or make arrangements for them to be cared for off-campus.
  • If an animal is causing a disturbance and the resident cannot be reached, a University official may enter the apartment to check on its welfare, and may call the local animal care and control to remove the animal if deemed appropriate.
  • Animals must be house-trained. The resident is also responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the animal's waste and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in areas designated by the University.
  • Animal feces, defined as cat litter box contents and any solid animal waste, must be disposed of properly. It is the resident's responsibility to remove feces from University grounds and dispose of it in a plastic bag, and then place the bag in a garbage can outside the building.
  • In consideration of the health of the animal and occupants of the apartment or residence hall room, cat litter box contents must be disposed of properly and regularly. The litter box must be changed with new cat litter regularly as outlined by the manufacturer and contents must be disposed of in a garbage can outside of the building. Litter boxes must also be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto carpeted surfaces.
  • Animal accidents within the residence hall room or apartment must be promptly cleaned up using appropriate cleaning products.
  • Regular and routine cleaning of floors, kennels, cages, and litter boxes must occur. The odor of an animal emanating from the residence hall room or apartment is not acceptable.
  • The resident is responsible for ensuring that they are in full control of the Service or Assistance Animal at all times.

The resident will notify the Office of Residence Life, or their on-call designee, or the Greek Life Office, if the animal has escaped its confines and is unable to be located within two (2) hours.

The resident will take all reasonable precautions to protect University staff and residents, as well as the property of the University and of the residents.

C: Emergency Contact/Care Official for Animal

In the event a student is unable to care for their animal due to an acute or emergency situation, they are asked to identify a local individual or boarding facility that will take the animal until the student is able to return to campus. Students must make these arrangements in advance and provide the name of the emergency contact at the time of accommodation approval. The arrangements must be made for off-site care. Students may not give another student or individual access to their residence hall room, per University Housing policy.

D: Exclusion or Removal

The Office of Residence Life, University Housing, and/or the Greek Life Office may exclude or remove an approved animal when any of the following apply:

  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
  • The resident does not comply with the "CWRU Guidelines for Service/Assistance Animal," outlined above and below.
  • The animal is unruly or disruptive (e.g. barking excessively, running around, jumping up on people, exhibiting aggressive behavior, repeated soiling of facilities) and the resident is unable or unwilling to take effective action to control the animal.
E: Temporary Removal

Reasonable behavior is expected from Service and Assistance Animals. A resident may be directed to remove an animal that is unruly or disruptive (e.g. barking excessively, running around, jumping up on people, exhibiting aggressive behavior, repeated soiling of facilities) if the resident is unable or unwilling to take effective action to control the animal. Repeated instances of such behavior may result in temporary removal from University facilities until the resident can demonstrate that they can effectively control the animal.

Animals which constitute a threat or nuisance to staff, residents or property, as determined by University Housing, the Greek Life Office, and/or the Office of Residence Life must be removed within two (2) days of notification.

F: Animals Returning to Campus Following Temporary Removal

For the student to demonstrate that the behavior of an animal has been addressed following the temporary removal, they must submit a corrective action plan in writing to either the Office of Residence Life or the Greek Life Office (depending on their affiliation and housing location).

The action plan should include the following:

  • Explanation of problem behavior
  • How the problem behavior has been addressed and/or corrected
  • Plan for on-going support/solution to the problem behavior

Once the plan has been received, a committee comprised of staff members of the Office of Residence Life/Greek Life Office, University Housing, and ESS Disability Resources will meet to review the proposed plan. A determination regarding the animal's ability to return to campus will be submitted to the student in writing within two (2) weeks.

G: Permanent Removal/Exclusion from Campus

If the animal continues to pose a threat or nuisance to staff, residents or property, the student will receive a written notification from the Office of Residence Life/Greek Life Office. The student will then be required to meet with a staff member from the Office of Residence Life/Greek Life Office to discuss the removal of the animal permanently from campus. The student must meet with the staff member from the Office of Residence Life/Greek Life Office within 48 hours or they will be documented for failure to comply and they will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

If the Greek Life Office and/or Office of Residence Life determine that the animal poses an immediate threat, or if the animal's welfare is in question, animal control may be summoned to remove the animal.

H: Appealing Removal of an Animal

In the event an animal is removed and the resident wishes to appeal the removal, the resident must do so in writing within five (5) business days. The resident's appeal of the removal will go through the Director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

The review by the Director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards will include meeting with the resident, a meeting with the Director for the Office of Residence Life or the Associate Director for the Greek Life Office, the Associate Director for ESS Disability Resources or designees, and a review of the file and supporting documentation. Based on this review, the Director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards will make a determination, in writing, to grant or deny the appeal and/or to refer the matter back to the Director for the Office of Residence Life or Associate Director for the Greek Life Office for further consideration consistent with the Director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards' decision. The Director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards' decision will be forwarded to the resident and the Director for the Office of Residence Life or Associate Director for the Greek Life Office. The decision of the Director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards is final.

During a pending appeal, the resident may be provided with temporary accommodations, if any, determined by the Associate Director for ESS Disability Resources. Each situation will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Should the approved animal be excluded or removed from the premises for any reason, the resident may be expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the Housing Agreement.

I: Cleaning and Property Damage

After the established deadline for removal from the residential unit, University staff will do a residence hall room or apartment inspection to check damages and infestation and then any necessary cleaning and extermination will be scheduled.

When the resident moves out of their apartment, suite or residence hall room, or no longer owns the animal, the apartment, suite or residence hall room will be assessed to determine if damage to residential property can be attributed to the animal. University staff conducts health and safety inspections in the residential facilities periodically and may check additional items during these inspections (e.g. litter box) if the student has an animal. University Housing staff maintains the right to conduct apartment or residence hall room inspections each semester for the purpose of assessing damage caused by the animal or otherwise determine the resident's compliance with this procedure.

The resident has an obligation to make sure that the apartment or residence hall room is as clean as the original standard. If the apartment or room has carpeting, this also includes regular vacuuming and spot cleaning. Damages caused by the animal are the responsibility of the resident who owns the animal. Replacement or repair of damaged items will be the sole financial responsibility of the resident. University Housing shall have the right to receive compensation from the resident for damages.

J: Conflicts and Concerns Regarding Service and Assistance Animals

Conflicts between Service and Assistance Animals and others' severe allergies, phobias, etc. will be addressed on a case-by-case basis (e.g. relocation to another University Housing facility) by ESS Disability Resources.