The University of Texas at Austin (University) allows individuals to bring animals on University property in accordance with federal and state laws and in other situations subject to the rules outlined in this policy.
A service animal is permitted on campus grounds and within University buildings and housing. This practice follows Titles II and III of the American with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
An emotional support animal is permitted on campus grounds and to accompany an individual with a disability into his or her University housing assignment in accordance with the FHA. However, an emotional support animal is not allowed to accompany the individual into his or her residential dining center or into any other University building.
A service animal in training is permitted on campus grounds and within University buildings. The individual accompanying the service animal in training should carry documentation indicating that the individual is an approved trainer as defined by this policy.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA) governs the use of service animals by individuals with disabilities (42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.), and the Department of Justice has issued regulations implementing title II, subtitle A, of the ADA (28 CFR Part 35). The Fair Housing Act (FHA) governs the use of emotional support animals by individuals with disabilities in housing (42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.). Texas state law regarding service animals and service animals in training is found in the Texas Human Resources Code, Sections 121.002-121.006.
This policy does not apply to:
- Animals used in approved University research.
- Animals used in classes on campus, based on requests by faculty for such use. Non-research animals used in classes require prior permission from Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).
- Animals used in police, search, and rescue operations on University property.
- Animals trained for and used in a clinical therapeutic setting on campus, such as the counseling center.
- Fish contained in aquariums in University housing or in University buildings.
- Appearances by the official mascot of the University.
Reason for Policy
The University supports the use of service animals and emotional support animals on campus in compliance with applicable federal and state laws. At the same time, it recognizes the health and safety risks potentially created by animals on campus. This policy sets forth the roles and responsibilities of individuals bringing animals onto campus.
Scope and Audience
This policy applies to students, employees, University affiliates, visitors, contractors, and applicants for admission to or employment with the University as well as all University-controlled properties, including all athletic facilities. This policy does not grant an individual access to University property beyond what the individual would normally have.
Definitions (specific to this policy)
Approved Animal: Service animal or emotional support animal that has been approved as a reasonable accommodation per the guidance covered in this policy.
Approved Trainer: A representative of an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons who are disabled as reputable and competent to provide training for service animals and/or their handlers.
Campus: All land and buildings owned or controlled by the University.
Campus Grounds: All land owned by the University. This term does not include University buildings.
Emotional Support Animal: An animal that is necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling when there is a relationship between the person’s disability and the assistance the animal provides. While emotional support animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA.
Person with A Disability: An individual with a disability is a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment.
Service Animal: Federal regulations define service animals as dogs, or in some cases, miniature horses, that are trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Tasks performed can include, among other things, pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, and pressing an elevator button. An animal that meets this definition, is considered a service animal regardless of whether or not the animal has received formal training through an agency. A service animal is a working animal, not a pet.
Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the disability of the person who needs the service animal’s assistance. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, and companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of defining a service animal.
Service Animal in Training: An animal undergoing training by an approved trainer and/or the animal’s handler to become a service animal. In the state of Texas, a service animal in training shall not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer.
University Buildings: All buildings owned or controlled by the University, including academic buildings in which classes are held, administrative-only buildings, student centers, libraries, dining halls, performing arts venues, museums, recreational facilities, athletic facilities, and University Union facilities.
University Housing: All on-campus residence facilities and University apartments owned or controlled by the University.
Website (for policy and implementation guidance)
Contacts for questions are viewable at the following web link: https://diversity.utexas.edu/animals/contacts-for-questions/.
Service Animals on Campus
The University permits service animals in University buildings and housing where other animals are normally excluded. Guidance outlining the use of service animals by students, employees, University affiliates, visitors, and other participants in services, programs, or activities, including any required pre-approval or registration, can be found at the following web address: https://diversity.utexas.edu/animals/service-animals/.
Emotional Support Animals on Campus
The University permits emotional support animals into University housing where other animals are normally excluded. Individuals are not permitted to bring emotional support animals inside University buildings (other than University housing), or to University events and functions, including, but not limited to, lectures, performing arts venues, and athletics facilities/events. Guidance outlining the use of emotional support animals by students, employees, University affiliates, visitors, and other participants in services, programs, or activities, including any required pre-approval or registration, can be found at the following web address: https://diversity.utexas.edu/animals/emotional-support-animals/.
Service Animals in Training on Campus
The University permits service animals in training in University buildings and housing where other animals are normally excluded. The service animal in training must be accompanied by an approved trainer and be undergoing training in the work or tasks directly related to the disability of a person who needs the animal’s assistance. As with members of the general public, service animals in training may be asked to leave if they are disruptive to University business. Guidance outlining the use of service animals in training by students, employees, University affiliates, visitors, and other participants in services, programs, or activities, including any required pre-approval or registration, can be found at the following web address: https://diversity.utexas.edu/animals/service-animals-in-training/.
Animals are permitted on campus grounds and, in some cases, are permitted into University buildings, provided the animal’s handler follows federal, state, and local laws and the rules covered in this policy. An individual bringing an animal to campus is expected to be mindful that the animal may constitute a hazard to others, especially in confined or closed spaces. Such hazards may include allergies and bites. In addition, the presence of an animal in certain areas may distract or interrupt activities or may create a nuisance, including the nuisance caused by animal waste, noise, and damage to property.
An individual bringing an animal to campus is required to exercise reasonable control over their animal in order to minimize the risk to others and to property. The animal handler is responsible and liable for the animal at all times while the animal is on campus. Any injury to a member of the University community or damages to University property caused by an animal will be the responsibility of the animal handler. Additionally, the following rules apply to animals on campus:
- Animals must comply with any and all county and state laws including, but not limited to, animal license requirements, vaccination, and identification tags.
- An animal’s handler must keep the animal under control and take effective action when it is out of control.
- An animal’s handler must secure the animal to a leash, cord, chain, or similar direct physical control of a maximum length of six (6) feet, the other end of which is restrained by a person. If this constraint interferes with the animal’s work or if the individual’s disability prevents using these devices, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective means. Physical constraint of the animal does not apply to approved animals kept within an individual’s University housing assignment.
- Animals must not be tethered to a stationary fixture or tree, or left unattended on campus.
- Animals must not be abandoned on campus. Abandonment of an animal may be considered a cruel and illegal act under Texas’ anti-cruelty statutes.
- An animal’s handler is responsible for feeding and exercising the animal.
- An animal’s handler is responsible for cleaning up after the animal and disposing of its waste.
- An animal’s handler is responsible for paying for the costs associated with repair or replacement for any damage caused by the animal.
- The University may take reasonable efforts to remove an animal confined in a vehicle when there appears to be imminent danger to the animal due to inadequate ventilation or temperature conditions. The University is not liable for any associated repair/damage costs to the vehicle for this action and the animal’s owner assumes full responsibility.
- Individuals must not falsely claim that an animal is a service animal or emotional support animal when it is not. Such an action is in violation of state and federal law.
- Under Texas state law, it is a crime to hurt, maim, attack, or kill a service animal or emotional support animal.
- Under Texas state law, a person who habitually abuses or neglects to feed or otherwise neglects to properly care for his or her animal is subject to having the animal seized and removed.
Removal of an Animal
In all cases, the handler of the animal is responsible for the animal’s behavior. In the event that removal of a service animal or emotional support animal is determined to be necessary, the person with a disability will still have the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the animal present. The University may remove or require an individual to remove an animal from campus if:
- The animal is out of control and the handler fails to control it.
- The animal’s waste is not being properly disposed of or the animal is damaging campus property.
- The animal poses a threat to the health or safety of others.
- The animal’s handler does not provide the standard of care required by state law, including, but not limited to, the failure to provide the necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal in the person’s custody.
- The animal does not have the licenses, vaccinations, and identification required by state law.
The University of Texas at Austin provides leave to an employee with a disability to attend a training program to acquaint them with a dog trained to assist the employee with the employee’s disabling conditions.
This leave benefit applies to an employee with a disability who is appointed to work at least twenty (20) hours per week for a period of at least four and one-half (4 ½) continuous months. Faculty must be appointed for at least fifty percent (50%) time for at least four and one-half (4 ½) continuous months. Students employed in positions that require student status as a condition of employment are ineligible for this leave benefit.
Eligible employees will receive up to ten (10) days of paid leave to attend a training program. The employee shall provide the supervisor with documentation of training arrangements at least two (2) weeks in advance of the training. The employee shall promptly and accurately record the use of leave. The supervisor shall verify the eligibility of applicants, review leave requests, approve them as appropriate, and verify that the employee, upon return to work, has properly recorded the use of the leave.
Questions regarding service dog training leave should be directed to Human Resources, Benefits Services Section, or to the website: http://www.utexas.edu/hr/.
A student, employee, or visitor to campus who wishes to file a disability discrimination complaint should contact the Department of Investigation and Adjudication at 512-471-3701. Students, employees, and visitors with concerns about potential discrimination may also contact state and federal organizations for guidance.
- Disability Rights Texas: https://www.disabilityrightstx.org/
- Texas Workforce Commission: https://twc.texas.gov/
- The United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR): https://www.ed.gov/
- The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): https://www.gov/
- The United States Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section (DOJ): https://justice.gov/
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): https://eeoc.gov/
A University employee who violates this policy is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. A student who violates this policy is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion. A visitor or other third party who violates this policy will be subject to all actions the University has available, including removal from campus, arrest, prosecution, and/or other legal action.
Forms and Tools
Disability and Access Housing Accommodations webpage: http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability/housing/
Visitor Request to have a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal Form: https://utexas.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_em1K3bp9XMub9w9
Employee Service Animal in Training Housing Request Form: https://utexas.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6Sx9OiOw5AyRzRr
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions are viewable at the following web link: https://diversity.utexas.edu/animals/contacts-for-questions/frequently-asked-questions/.
HOP 3-3010- Disability Accommodation for Applicants and Employees
HOP 3-3020- Nondiscrimination Policy
HOP 5-2011- Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outside Activities
HOP 5-4520 – Service Dog Training
Texas Government Code, Section 661.910, Assistance Dog Training for Employees with a Disability
Texas Human Resources Code, Section 121.002-121.006, Service Animals and Service Animals in Training
Texas Penal Code, Section 42.092, Cruelty to Nonlivestock Animals
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.
Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq.
Special Notice Regarding Miniature Horses
On a case-by-case basis, the University will make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. Other requirements that apply to Service Animals shall also apply to miniature horses. This practice follows Titles II and III of the ADA, as amended. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.