Service & Assistance Animals

Policy Overview

Service DogTexas Tech University is committed to compliance with state and federal laws regarding individuals with disabilities. All questions regarding service animals should be directed to the Student Disability Services (SDS) office at 335 West Hall or via phone (806-742-2405), fax (806 742-4837), or email. No documentation will be required to bring service animals into academic buildings on campus. However, in the case of assistance animals residing in University housing, the University will require that documentation be provided on the letterhead of a treating physician or mental health provider, which permits the University to determine:

  1. That that the individual has a disability for which the animal is needed;
  2. How the animal assists the individual, including whether the animal has undergone any training; and
  3. The relationship between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides.

Service Animals Permitted on Campus

Individuals with disabilities may be accompanied by their service animals in all Texas Tech University buildings where members of the public or participants in services, programs or activities are allowed to go. By law, a service animal means 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. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals. In some cases, the University may permit miniature horses on campus on a case-by-case basis, consistent with applicable law.

The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of such tasks include, but are not limited to: assisting an individual with low vision with navigation; alerting individuals who are hard of hearing to the presence of people or objects; pulling a person's wheelchair; or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with a mobility disability.

Federal law does not require the individual to provide documentation that an animal has been trained as a service animal. The University may, however, ask if the animal is required because of a disability, as well as what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.


The University may exclude a service animal from campus if its behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or when its presence fundamentally alters the nature of a program or activity. Furthermore, the University may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from campus if the animal is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it; or if the animal is not housebroken. The service animal is considered an extension of the student and thus, is subject to the same code of conduct as a student would follow. Disruptive behavior by a service animal will be grounds for removal from an academic setting in the same manner that a disruptive student will be removed from the same environment.

Responsibilities of Individuals with Service Animals

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal. Individuals with disabilities are responsible for the control of their service animals at all times and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including vaccination, licensure, animal health and leash laws. A service animal shall be restrained with a harness, leash, or other tether, unless an individual’s disability precludes the use of a restraint or if the restraint would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks. If a service animal is not tethered, it must be otherwise under the individual’s control, whether by voice control, signals, or other effective means.

Individuals are responsible for ensuring the immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste. Although the University may not charge an individual with a disability a service animal surcharge, it may impose charges for damages caused by a service animal in the same manner the University imposes charges for damages caused by students.

Assistance Animals in University Housing

Federal law allows individuals with disabilities the presence of a broader range of animals (“assistance animals”) in University housing as compared with the campus as a whole. By law, an assistance animal means any service animal, as defined above, as well as an animal needed for emotional support. An individual may keep an assistance animal as an accommodation in University housing if:

  1. The individual has a disability;
  2. The animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling; and
  3. There is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides. Assistance animals are NOT allowed in any other university buildings.


The University may exclude an assistance animal from University housing if the animal is not housebroken; would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others or University facilities; would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; would fundamentally alter the nature of a program or activity; or is not being cared for by the individual. Students will be liable for damage caused by assistance animals in the same manner they are responsible for personal damages to University property.

Responsibilities of Individuals with Assistance Animals

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of an assistance animal. Individuals with disabilities are responsible for the control of their assistance animals at all times and for ensuring the immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste. Individuals must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including vaccination, licensure, animal health and leash laws, as well as the University’s rules in lease provisions regarding vaccination, licensure, leash control, cleanup rules, animal health, and community relationships.

Regulations for Service and Assistance Animals

TO: Texas Tech University Faculty & Staff

FROM: Dr. Larry Phillippe, Ed.D
           Director, Student Disability Services
           Campus ADA Coordinator

DATE: August 27, 2015

RE: Regulations for Service Animals and Assistance/Companion Animals

The Student Disability Services office and the University Student Housing Office have recently been inundated with requests for both Service Animals and Assistance/Companion Animals. I wanted to update everyone on what the current regulations are and what we as an institution of higher education are required and not required to do.

Service Animals:

Service Animals are regulated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because they are considered an accommodation needed by a person with a disability to perform specific tasks needed to mitigate the effects of their disability. The regulations state the following:

  1. A service animal is defined as a dog (and in some very limited cases a miniature horse)
  2. Trained to perform a specific task that the person with a disability cannot otherwise perform themselves.

No other animals are considered service animals. only dogs. Federal regulations also do not require the person with a disability to provide documented proof of training of the dog, nor do they have to provide documentation of their disability. Should a person with a service animal want to take the animal into a building or area that is open and accessible to the general public, they may do so. The only questions that can be asked by the entity of the person with a service animal are:

  1. Do you have the dog because of a disability?
  2. What task is it trained to do?

No other questions can be asked and no proof can be required of training. Currently, service animals are trained for a variety of disabilities, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, physical impairments, and mental health issues, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have at least three current students who are veterans that use the service animals in all settings. The dogs are trained to recognize and sense when the person is beginning to have a panic attack and will paw or pull the person to remove them from the situation. That is a specific task, and the dog is not there simply to keep them calm. If the person responds that the dog is just there to help keep them calm when you ask your two questions, then that is not a task and thus would not be considered a service animal. 

While we are limited in our ability to control the access and use of service animals in all public areas, the people with the disabilities have certain responsibilities as well. The service animal is considered an extension of the person and therefore must be complaint with the same public rules and regulations that the disabled person must comply with. So, just as a person cannot yell out loud and run around being disruptive in a restaurant or store, neither may a service animal. Management can ask the person to remove any service animal that is being disruptive or exhibiting threatening behavior just as they would ask any person to leave for the same reasons. once the service animal has been removed, the person may reenter the establishment without the animal if they so choose. This same situation applies to all academic buildings on the TTU campus. Service animals are under the same Student Code of Conduct as the students. Faculty members may not refuse students with service animals entrance into their classroom, but they can control the behavior of the service animal.

Additionally, service animals must be tethered at all times (unless the leash interferes with the task the animal performs) and meet all local health requirements, including vaccinations.

Assistance or Emotional Support Animals:

Assistance or Emotional Support Animals (ESA's) are covered under the Fair Housing Act because they may be required for a variety of mental health issues. They are not trained to do a certain task, but are generally used to help with emotional stability and stress reduction. If ESA's are needed due to a disability, the person may be allowed to keep the animal in their primary residence without being required to pay a pet deposit and despite a policy that does not allow pets. This applies in most cases to all public and private rental property, as well as college housing. 

However, Assistance and ESA's are not allowed into buildings that are accessible to the general public as is the case with Service Animals. This includes all academic buildings on campus.

Assistance and ESA's can be a variety of animals and re not limited to dogs. They are, however, limited to the city and county restrictions of domestic animals that are allowed within an incorporated entity. Exotic or wild animals not allowed as pets inside a city limit also cannot be classified as an assistance animal.

So in summary, Service Animals (only a dog) are permitted in any campus building that the general public has access to. Assistance or Emotional Support Animals (various animals) are only allowed in the room within a residence hall of the student and no other buildings on campus. 

I hope that this will clear up the confusion regarding what qualifies as a Service Animal and what qualifies as an Assistance or Emotional Support Animal. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your help as we try to accommodate our students with appropriate accommodations and accurate information. 

Procedures & Forms

University Housing

For more information, please visit the University Student Housing website.