Texas Tech University

Service Animals

A person holds on to the harness of yellow lab service dog.Texas 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 130 Weeks Hall or via phone (806-742-2405), fax (806 742-4837), or email. No documentation will be required to bring certified service animals into academic buildings on campus. 

Guide to Animals on Campus

Service Animals Assistance Animals
Clip art man holding leash of dog with red service dog vest. Clip art man holding leash of dog and cat.
Required because of a disability Requested for emotional support
Trained to perform a task Not trained to perform a task
Allowed in academic buildings Not allowed in academic buildings
(Residence halls only)
Not required to be registered Must be registered with University Student Housing & SDS

What's the difference between a service animal and an assistance animal?

Service Animals

A service animal is defined in Title II: Section 35.104 under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a 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. Service animals are allowed in public places because of the owner's need for the animal at all times.

Examples of such work or tasks include but are not limited to:

  • guiding people who are blind or have low vision with navigation,
  • alerting people who are deaf to the presence of people or sounds,
  • pulling a wheelchair,
  • alerting an individual of a seizure, change in blood sugar, or an allergen,
  • reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications,
  • calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or
  • performing other duties. (See ADA.gov for more information on service animals)

Assistance Animals

The revised 2010 ADA regulations specify that "the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks," so these animals are not considered service animals. However, an assistance animal that ameliorates identified symptoms of an individual's emotional or psychological disability. The function of an assistance animal may be entirely passive with the sole role being its presence.

Assistance animals are also called:

  • Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
  • Comfort Animals
  • Companion Animals
  • Therapy Animals - Their responsibilities are to provide psychological or physiological therapy to individuals, and they usually provide visitation to hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities.

The Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) and Housing and Urban Development's Section 504 regulations (24 CFR Parts 8 and 9) govern the assistance animals.

Learn More

Policies and Related Information

How do I know how my animal is classified?

Flow chart to determine what type of animal. Text description after image.

Download flow chart diagram as a Word document

Service Dog

Is it a dog? Yes.

Is it individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a disability? Yes.

Then, this is a service animal.

  • Recognized by the ADA. (It is the handler's right to have the dog provide a service).
  • Can go everywhere handler goes; trained to respond to handler's needs.
  • The use of this animal on campus does not prompt registration with Student Disability Services or University Student Housing.

Emotional Support Animal

Is it a dog or cat? Yes.

Is it trained to respond to any stimuli? No.

Is the animal's presence its value? Yes.

Then this is an assistance/emotional support animal.

  • Covered under the Fair Housing Act (not recognized by ADA because there is no right to comfort).
  • Animal's presence as support, well-being, or comfort does not constitute work or tasks.
  • The use of this animal in Housing must be approved through Student Disability Services and University Student Housing.

Service Dog in Training

Is it a dog? Yes.

Are you are training it to perform a task for the benefit of a disability? Yes.

Is the dog required to be accompanied by approved trainer at all times? Yes.

Then this is a service animal in training.

  • ADA recognizes one's ability to train their own animal. However, the ADA does not recognize a service animal in training as a service dog and does not allow the same access.
  • Texas Law allows for Service Animals in Training, but must be accompanied by approved handler at all times.
  • The use of this animal on campus must be approved through Student Disability Services.
  • If student is the approved (certified) trainer, then documentation stating such must be provided to Student Disability Services. If student is NOT approved trainer, student and service dog in training must be accompanied by approved trainer at all times.

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.

Regulations for Service and Assistance Animals - Memo from Campus ADA Coordinator

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 are 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. 

Service Animals in Training Policy

ADA Service Animal Terms

The document published by OCR addresses two key points:
  1. The ADA does not require service animals to be professionally trained. People with disabilities have the right to train the dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program.
  2. However, service-animals-in-training are not considered service animals. Under the ADA, the dog must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. Thus, until the training is complete, the service animal in training does not have the same protection and privileges as a fully trained service animal. Some State* or local laws cover animals that are still in training.

The State of Texas* does recognize Service Animals in Training to have access to the same areas as trained service animals as long as they are accompanied by an approved trainer. Texas Tech University requires the student provide documentation of their certification as the trainer from an approved organization.

* State of Texas Code Sec.121.003 (i) A service animal in training shall not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer.

Requirements for Students

  1. Complete the Student Disability Services Verification Form for Service Animals in Training. This form does not register the student with Student Disability Services for classroom accommodations, but if the student wants to apply for services, he/she can do so. This SDS Verification Form, along with documentation certifying the student as an approved trainer (#2), will be kept on file in the Student Disability Services Office.
  2. Provide Student Disability Services a Certification of Training document. An approved trainer recognized by Texas Tech University is an individual who has been certified by an organization whose primary mission is to train service animals for people with disabilities. If the student is not an approved trainer, the student must provide proof an approved trainer will be with the student and the dog while in campus buildings.
  3. Meet with Student Disability Services Staff to obtain approval for bringing a Service Animal in Training into campus buildings. A campus building is any building on campus, including housing facilities. During this meeting, SDS Staff and student will:
    1. Review published ADA language that allows for the person to train the dog themselves, but does not recognize service animals in training as a protected accommodation.
    2. Review State of Texas statute that does allow service animals in training to access the same areas as Service Animals as long as they are accompanied by an approved trainer.
    3. Review TTU's policy on what constitutes a recognized approved trainer. 
    4. Review TTU policy that Service Animals in Training must be identified by a vest or tag indicating they are in training, and must comply with and abide by the same University policies and procedures that any Service Animal or Assistance Animal follows. This includes policies within the Student Code of Conduct.
  4. Housing Requirements – If the student resides in TTU Student Housing, then the Verification Form will be sent to Housing as well.

Requirements for Service Animal (dog) in Training

  1. The animal must be at least one year of age.
  2. The animal must meet all standards of behavior that mirrors a trained service animal. These standards include that the animal is under the owner's control at all times, and that the animal is leashed at all times.
    The ADA requires service animals be under the control of the handler at all times. The service animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in public places unless this interferes with the service animal's work or task. In that case, the person must use voice, signal, or other effective means to maintain control of the animal. Under control also means a service animal should not be allowed to bark repeatedly in an otherwise quiet place.
  3. Additional service animal guidelines include:
    1. Animal must be housebroken,
    2. Current required vaccinations, and
    3. Wearing collars and tags at all times.

State of Texas Human Resources Code



...(i) A service animal in training shall not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer...

Standards of Behavior by Animal and Animal Owner

Health, sanitary, safety, and disruptive standards must be maintained as follows:

  • Animals require daily food and attention, as well as a daily assessment of their general health, behavior and overall welfare.
  • Animals cannot be left unattended overnight at any time. If the owner must be away, they must either take the animal with them, or make arrangements for them to be cared for elsewhere, which does not include other residence hall or apartment spaces.
  • Emotional support animals must not be taken into the residence hall or apartment offices, administrative offices, common space or student living areas.
  • Animal waste must be taken care of and any animal handler or owner must comply with Sec. 4.01.002- Animals defecating on public and private property. Animal feces, defined as cat litter box contents and any solid animal waste, must be disposed of properly. It is the owner's responsibility to remove feces from University grounds, dispose of it in a plastic bag, and then place that bag in the garbage dumpsters outside. Cleanup must occur immediately. Animal feces may not be disposed of in any trash receptacle or through the sewer system inside any building on the Texas Tech University campus. Waste must be taken to any residence hall or apartment dumpster for disposal.
  • Residents with cats must properly maintain litter boxes. In consideration of the health of the cat and occupants of the apartment or the 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.
  • 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. (see Cleaning Section below)
  • Any flea infestation must be attended to promptly by the USH contracted professional extermination company at owner's expense. Owners are expected to promptly notify the hall office or USH facilities staff via the FixIt work order system and arrange for extermination when a flea problem is noted. Animal owners may take some precautionary measures such as: flea medications prescribed by veterinarians, flea and tick collars, taking your animal to the veterinarian for flea and tick baths. However, USH staff may not use chemical agents and insecticides to exterminate fleas and ticks. Because not all of the precautions listed above can prevent flea and tick infestations, the owner is responsible for extermination costs after vacating the residence hall room or apartment.
  • Animals must not be allowed to disrupt others (e.g., barking continuously, growling, yowling, howling, etc.). Animals which constitute a threat or nuisance to staff, residents or property, as determined by the USH Managing Director or designee, must be removed within seven (7) days of notification. If Texas Tech Police Department personnel determine an animal poses an immediate threat, animal control may be summoned to remove the animal. If the behavior of an animal can be addressed by the owner and the owner can change the behavior of an animal so the pet does not have to be removed, then a written action plan must be submitted by the owner. The action plan must outline the action to take place to alleviate the problems and also must give a deadline as to length of time the plan will take to complete. Any action plan must meet the approval of the USH Managing Director or designee. The day after the deadline for removal from the apartment, USH staff will do a residence hall room or apartment inspection to check damages and infestation and then the mandatory cleaning and extermination will be scheduled. Any animal owner found not adhering to the removal directive will be subject to disciplinary action, which could include contract cancellation.
  • An animal must not be involved in an incident where a person experiences either the threat of or an actual injury as a result of the animal's behavior. The animal owner will take all reasonable precautions to protect university staff and residents, as well as the property of the University and of the residents.
  • The owner will notify USH residence life staff via the hall office if the animal has escaped its confines and is unable to be located within eight (8) hours.
  • All liability for the actions of the animal (bites, scratches, etc.) is the responsibility of the owner. Violations concerning any of the aforementioned may result in the resident having to find alternative housing off-campus for the animal and, as warranted, may also result in a resident being in breach of their housing contract.

Cleaning and Damages

  • When the resident moves out of his/her apartment or residence hall room, or no longer owns the animal the apartment or residence hall room will be assessed to determine if damage to department property can be attributed to the animal. The Division maintains the right to conduct apartment or residence hall room inspections annually for the purpose of assessing damage caused by the animal or otherwise determine the resident's compliance with this procedure.
  • The animal owner 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 and extraordinary cleaning caused by the animal are the responsibility of the resident. Replacement or repair of damaged items will be the financial responsibility of the owner and assessed by members of the USH staff.

Download Procedures as a PDF

Document adapted with permission from the University of Texas, Austin, TX, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA, and Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA.

Thank you to smerikal from flickr for the use of the service dog photo under the Creative Commons license Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

Student Disability Services