June 4, 2018

Support Animals

This page is meant to act as a comprehensive resource for information regarding service animals and emotional support animals. The links below provide information about the differences between the two types of support animals, information about the different laws that apply to each animal, information on how to handle situations that may arise, and frequently asked questions. If the information provided does not answer your question, or if you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact the Student Disability Center at 970-491-6385, or visit our main office located in the TILT building room 121.

Service Dogs

Overview

A service animal is a dog or (rarely a miniature horse) that has been trained to do work or perform specific active tasks for a specific individual with a disability. These disabilities may not always be visible or obvious. Service animals can go most places that their owner goes, such is into academic buildings.

Individuals with service dogs may have disabilities that are not visible including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seizures, anxiety attacks, autism, diabetes, cancer, or depression.

Examples of the work these dogs have been trained to do include but are not limited to:

  • Guiding a person who is blind or visually impaired
  • Alerting a person who is Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing of sounds
  • Providing assistance with mobility and stability
  • Providing warnings in advance of a medical emergency, such as seizure
  • Interrupting psychological emergencies.

Service dogs are working animals, not pets.

Identifying a Service Animal

When determining if a dog is a service dog, emotional support animal, or pet, only two questions are legally permitted:

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

Please Note: poor behavior can be addressed, to learn more please see behavioral standards below.

An individual with a service dog cannot be asked:

  • About their disability
  • To provide medical documentation
  • To provide a special identification card or training documentation for the dog
  • Asked that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task

If the animal is not a dog or a miniature horse, it is not a service animal. Conversely, a number of animals may be used as emotional support animals, which do not have the same rights and protections as service animals.

Under Colorado law Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement to an Assistance Animal, Colo. HB16-1426. it is illegal to misrepresent your animal as a service animal. This includes misusing a service animal vest, ID card or tag, or falsely claiming or exaggerating a disability.

Service dogs are not required to be registered with the Student Disability Center or Office of Equal Opportunity, however, individuals with service dogs are highly encouraged to communicate with one of these entities.

Behavioral Standards

Under the ADA, service dogs must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered. However, if these devices interfere with the service animal’s work (when they are performing the work) or the individual’s disability prevents them from using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain complete control of the animal through verbal commands, signals, or other effective controls.

If a dog is out of control or aggressive this behavior can be addressed, please follow the appropriate response protocol.

To learn more about service animals please visit the resources section, or contact the SDC at 970-491-6385 or OEO at 970-491-5836.

Emotional Support Animals

Overview

An emotional support animal is any commonly domesticated animal that provides emotional support or comfort to a person with a disability. ESAs have been verified by a medical professional to provide emotional support, comfort or therapy to an individual with a disability. Some examples of the support these animals perform: provide soothing, feelings of security and familiarity.

ESAs are not service animals and are not granted the same rights and protections as service animals. On campus in most cases, these animals are only permitted to live with an individual in university-owned housing units (residence hall room or apartment).

Please Note: There is no agency or organization that can certify an ESA. Certificates, vests, ID cards, or other documentation that can be purchased from an organization/agency are not valid. ESAs can only be recommended as an accommodation by a medical professional, who is unrelated to the individual, and who has an established relationship with the individual who is seeking an ESA as an accommodation.

ESAs on Campus

ESAs are only permitted in university-owned housing with approval by the Student Disability Center or the Office of Equal Opportunity. ESAs are not permitted in dining halls, academic buildings, the Lory Student Center, Morgan Library, or other non-housing buildings on campus.

Approval Process

Individuals who are living in university-owned housing can request to have an ESA live with them as an accommodation for a substantially limiting disability. Requests have to be supported by documentation from a medical professional who has an established relationship with the individual requesting the ESA, and be approved by the SDC or OEO (see distinction below), before the animal can live in the housing unit.

If a student is living in the residence halls or university apartments (and is not required to live there as part of a job such as a resident assistant) they need to meet with the SDC and have their ESA approved before it can live with them in their housing unit.

Employees and non-students who live in university-owned housing, who wish to have an ESA live with them need to meet with OEO and have their ESA approved before it can live with them in their housing unit.

The SDC and OEO cannot approve ESAs to live in off-campus housing. Students and employees who live off-campus need to speak with their landlord or property manager to have ESAs approved to live with them.

To begin the approval process please contact either the SDC at-970-491-6385 or OEO at 970-491-5836. If you have further questions about ESAs please contact one of these offices.

Side by Side Comparison

Service AnimalsEmotional Support Animals (ESAs)
are allowed in most public and
educational area
are limited to a specific residence
hall and outdoor public areas
By law, only dogs (or miniature
horses) are recognized as service
animals
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
can be any type of common
household pet.
Service Dogs are trained to
perform specific tasks directly
related to a person’s disability.
No training is required for ESAs;
however, they must provide
prescribed support for the
owner’s disability.
Service Dogs must be kept on a
leash and controlled at all times in
public areas.
ESAs are only allowed in
residences and not allowed in
other campus buildings.
Service Dogs do not have to be registered with the SDC.Students requesting ESAs for
on-campus housing must seek
approval of this accommodation
through the SDC.

Campus Policy

There is a university-wide policy specifically about service animals and emotional support animals. It outlines the rights and responsibility of students who have these animals, as well as faculty and staff who interact with the student and their animal.

Click here to read the full policy

Situation Protocol

This section has information about how to handle different situations that involve service dogs or emotional support animals. Please note that this protocol is specific for situations that occur on the CSU campus only.

A dog is being distracting or disruptive

If you encounter a dog that is displaying distracting or disruptive behaviors in an academic or public setting as a CSU employee you may address this. A person can be asked to remove their dog if they do not take effective and immediate action to manage or stop the distracting or disruptive behavior. If you must take action please do so as unobtrusively as possible for the situation.A

Please note: even friendly behavior can still be considered distracting or disruptive.

If a dog is repeatedly distracting or disruptive this can become a conduct issue. 

A dog is being aggressive to another dog or person

If you encounter a dog that is displaying aggressive behaviors in an academic or public setting as a CSU employee you can address this. Immediate intervention may be taken to ensure public safety for everyone involved, including the dogs. A person can be asked to remove their dog if they do not take effective and immediate action to manage or stop the aggressive behavior.

When possible this suitable action should be tailored to de-escalate the situation.

If a dog is repeatedly aggressive this can become a conduct issue. 

A dog bites someone

If a dog bites a person or another dog, the CSU Police (911 or 970-491-6425) must be called immediately.

Interacting with Service Dogs

Service dogs are working dogs, they are not pets. Because of this service dogs need to be interacted with differently than other dogs. Below is a list of things to do and not do when interacting with service dogs.

DO’S

  • Speak to the owner of a service dog rather than to the dog itself
  • Treat the dog and its owner with sensitivity and respect
  • Acknowledge a service dogs presence and be respectful of it

DON’Ts

  • Pet or touch a service dog without asking its handler
  • Let your pet dog go up to a service dog
  • Offer a service dog food
  • Ride your bike or skateboard within five feet of a service dog
  • ask personal questions about the handler’s disability, or why they need the service dog

Other Resources

Below are links to other resources and information that may be useful in understanding the service animals and emotional support animals.

ADA.gov Service Animal Info Page

This page of the Americans with Disabilities Act website provides information that defines what a service animal is.

ADA.gov FAQ on Service Animals

This list of frequently asked questions published on the Americans with Disabilities Act website provides great information about service dogs.

Disability Law Colorado: Assistance Animal Info

This webpage contains useful information and fact sheets about assistance animals.

Service Dog Central

Service Dog Central is a community of service dog partners and trainers working together to bring provide combined knowledge about service dogs. Their goal is to provide the latest, most accurate, most useful information about service dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if a service dog is legitimate or not?

When determining if a dog is a service dog, emotional support animal, or pet, only two questions are legally permitted:

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

Please Note: poor behavior can be addressed, to learn more please see behavioral standards below.

The individual with the dog cannot be asked:

  • about their disability
  • to provide medical documentation
  • to provide a special identification card or training documentation for the dog
  • asked that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task

If the animal is not a dog or a miniature horse, it is not a service animal.

Under Colorado law Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement to an Assistance Animal, Colo. HB16-1426. it is illegal to misrepresent your animal as a service animal. This includes misusing a service animal vest, ID card or tag, or falsely claiming or exaggerating a disability.

Service dogs are not required to be registered with Student Disability Center (SDC) or Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), however, individuals with service dogs are highly encouraged to communicate with one of these entities.

Behavioral Standards

Under the ADA, service dogs must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered. However, if these devices interfere with the service animal’s work (when they are performing the work) or the individual’s disability prevents them from using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain complete control of the animal through verbal commands, signals, or other effective controls.

If a dog is out of control or aggressive this behavior can be addressed, please follow the appropriate response protocol.

Do service dogs have to wear vests or other identifiers?

No, service dogs are not required to wear vests, harnesses, tags, or other visual identifiers that identify them as a service dog. However, those who have service dogs are highly encouraged to have their dog wear some form of an identifier to help make others aware that dog is a service dog.

Additionally, just because a dog is wearing a vest does not mean it is a service dog. The determination if a dog a service dog should first be based on behavior. If the dog is behaving and is attentive to its owner then the person and their dog should be left alone. If a dog is being distracting, disruptive, or aggressive, then intervention can be taken.

Colorado law Intentional Misrepresentation of Entitlement to an Assistance Animal, Colo. HB16-1426. it is illegal to misrepresent an animal as a service animal. This includes misusing a service animal vest, ID card or tag, or falsely claiming or exaggerating a disability.

Do I have to allow service dogs in my classroom?

Under the ADA service dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers into most places. However, there are some exceptions which can include;

  • clean labs
  • food preparation areas
  • human or animal cadaver labs
  • environments that contain other live animals
  • any environment that could endanger the service dog.

Do I have to allow emotional support animals in my classroom?

In accordance with university policy, emotional support animals (ESAs) are not allowed in academic buildings. They are only permitted to be with an individual in university-owned housing with prior approval from the Student Disability Center (SDC) or the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).

Please do not allow ESAs in your classroom. They can be distracting to a service dog. If a service dog is distracted by an ESA it may be paying attention not its handler, and may not be able to perform its service or task when needed.

Are service dogs in-training considered service dogs?

Under Colorado law service dogs in-training are granted the same rights and protections as service dogs. However, service dogs in-training are also held to the same behavioral standards as fully-trained service dogs.

Dogs under four months old are not protected by this law, because they are not allowed in public due to public health laws.