Texas Tech University

Emotional Support Animals

French bull dog lays in green grass on a leash in front of crouching owner.  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. However, in the case of emotional support animals residing in University housing, the University will require that documentation be provided by the treating physician or mental health provider, which permits the University to determine:

  1. 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 emotional support that the animal provides.

Student Disability Services will also require documentation for any service animal in training that will be on campus in Housing or academic buildings. See "Service Animals in Training Policy" for more details.

Guide to Animals on Campus

Service Animals Emotional Support Animals
Clip art man holding leash of dog with red service dog vest. Clip art man holding leash of dog and cat.
Fully vaccinated dog Fully vaccinated dog or 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
ADA Frequently Asked Questions  

What's the difference between a service animal and an emotional support 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)

Learn More

Emotional Support 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 emotional support animal ameliorates identified symptoms of an individual's emotional or psychological disability. The function of an emotional support animal may be entirely passive with the sole role being its presence.

Emotional Support Animals are also called:

  • 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 emotional support animals.

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 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.

Emotional Support Animals in University Housing

Federal law allows individuals with disabilities the presence of a broader range of animals (“emotional support animals”) in University housing as compared with the campus as a whole. An individual may keep an emotional support 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 emotional support the animal provides. Emotional Support Animals are NOT allowed in any other university buildings.

Exceptions

The University may exclude an emotional support 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 emotional support animals in the same manner they are responsible for personal damages to University property.

*For the health and safety of residents, University Student Housing is never required to accept snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, sugar gliders, or spiders since these animals cannot meet vaccination requirements to be certified disease free. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that emotional support animals should be limited to those that cannot possibly transmit Zoonotic disease. Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can be naturally transmitted from animals to humans.

Responsibilities of Individuals with Emotional Support Animals

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of an emotional support animal. Individuals with disabilities are responsible for the control of their emotional support 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.

 

Download PDF of the Verification Form for Housing Accommodations to print and give to your provider to fill out.

Regulations for Service and Emotional Support Animals - Memo from Campus ADA Coordinator

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.

Emotional Support Animals:

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

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

State of Texas Human Resources Code

TITLE 8. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Sec. 121.005.  RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.

(a) A person with a disability who uses an emotional support animal for assistance in travel is liable for any damages done to the premises or facilities by the animal.

(b) A person with a disability who uses an emotional support animal for assistance in travel or auditory awareness shall keep the animal properly harnessed or leashed, and a person who is injured by the animal because of the failure of a person with a disability to properly harness or leash the animal is entitled to maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction under the same law applicable to other causes brought for the redress of injuries caused by animals.

Sec. 121.006.  PENALTIES FOR IMPROPER USE OF EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS. 

(a) A person who uses a service animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained service animal when training has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by:

(1) a fine of not more than $300; and

(2) 30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with visual impairments or other disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than one year.

(b) A person who habitually abuses or neglects to feed or otherwise neglects to properly care for his or her emotional support animal is subject to seizure of the animal under Subchapter B, Chapter 821, Health and Safety Code.

Procedures and Requirements for Emotional Support Animals

All Service and Emotional Support Animal requests must be submitted to the Student Disability Services (SDS) office located in 130 Weeks Hall, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. After SDS has approved the accommodation of an Emotional Support Animal, the student is responsible for submitting the approval to University Student Housing (USH) along with any other required documentation.

No animal will be permitted in residence halls or apartments that:

  • Is not approved by the SDS office
  • Is not approved by University Student Housing (USH)
  • Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
  • Would cause substantial physical damage to University property and other residents
  • Would pose an undue financial and administrative burden to the University
  • Would fundamentally alter the nature of the University's housing operations

Improper Use of Animals

State of Texas Human Resources Code

TITLE 8. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Sec. 121.006. PENALTIES FOR IMPROPER USE OF EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS.

(a) A person who uses a service animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained service animal when training has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by:

(1) A fine of not more than $300; and

(2) 30 hours of community service to be performed for a governmental entity or nonprofit organization that primarily serves persons with visual impairments or other disabilities, or for another entity or organization at the discretion of the court, to be completed in not more than one year.

(b) A person who habitually abuses or neglects to feed or otherwise neglects to properly care for his or her emotional support animal is subject to seizure of the animal under Subchapter B, Chapter 821, Health and Safety Code.

Standards for Approved Emotional Support Animals

  • Approval will be granted for one emotional support animal.
  • Animals must be at least 6 months in age or older.
  • Restrictions on animals sizes are considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • All approved service or emotional support animals must comply with applicable laws regarding animals, including Chapter 4 – Animals in the City of Lubbock Code of Ordinances, their treatment and care, and must also meet the following standards:

Dogs (Service and Emotional Support Animals)

  • Dogs must be of appropriate age (at least 6 months) for all required immunizations. These must be up-to-date and a copy of the immunizations must be on file with the University Student Housing (USH) Office.
  • Dogs must be licensed and a copy of the license must be on file with the University Student Housing Office.
  • Dogs must be of appropriate age to be spayed or neutered. A copy of the veterinarian's report must be on file with the University Student Housing Office.
  • A Certificate of Health signed by a veterinarian certifying the dog is healthy and free from any signs of infectious or contagious diseases, parasites, etc. must be on file with the University Student Housing Office.
  • Collars and tags must be worn at all times. The dog must be kept on a leash at all times when outside the residence hall or apartment. Dogs must never be allowed to run freely. (State of Texas Human Resources Code, TITLE 8. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, Sec. 121.005. RESPONSIBILITIES OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. (a) A person with a disability who uses an emotional support animal for assistance in travel is liable for any damages done to the premises or facilities by the animal. (b) A person with a disability who uses an emotional support animal for assistance in travel or auditory awareness shall keep the animal properly harnessed or leashed, and a person who is injured by the animal because of the failure of a person with a disability to properly harness or leash the animal is entitled to maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction under the same law applicable to other causes brought for the redress of injuries caused by animals.)
  • Dogs must possess friendly and sociable characteristics. A specific dog can be restricted from the premises by the USH Managing Director or designee based on any confirmed threatening or territorial behavior. Dogs that are classified as "Dangerous Dogs" (Texas Health and Safety Code Title 10., Chapter 833, Subchapter A, Sec. 822.041) and "Dangerous Animals" (Lubbock City Ordinance, Chapter 4, Article 4.06, Sec. 4.06.001)
  • Dog obedience and training programs are highly recommended.

Domestic Cats (Emotional Support Animals Only)

  • Cats must be of appropriate age (at least 6 months) for all required immunizations. These must be up-to-date and a copy of the immunizations must be on file with the University Student Housing (USH) Office.
  • Cats must be licensed and a copy of the license must be on file with the University Student Housing Office.
  • Cats must be of appropriate age to be spayed or neutered. A copy of the veterinarian's report must be on file with the University Student Housing Office.
  • A Certificate of Health signed by a veterinarian certifying the cat is healthy and free from any signs of infectious or contagious diseases, parasites, etc. must be on file with the University Student Housing Office.
  • Collars and tags must be worn at all times. The cat must be kept on a leash at all times when outside the residence hall or apartment. Cats must never be allowed to run freely.

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.

Emotional Support Animals in University Housing

Requirements for Housing approval include:

  • Written veterinary proof of all necessary immunizations (and spaying/neutering) as soon as is practical for the individual animal
  • Acknowledgement form which provides animal information and the animal's health affirmation
  • Signed Service and Emotional Support Animal Procedure Form wherein the student agrees to the maintenance of the animal
  • Signed Roommate(s) agreements if the student has one or more roommates.

If you have any questions about emotional support animals in the residence halls, please email University Student Housing or call them at (806) 742-2661.

Student Disability Services