Service and Support Animals on Campus
The University of the South complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in allowing the use of service animals by students, staff, faculty and visitors while on campus. The University also complies with the Fair Housing Act in allowing students the use of support animals that are approved as an accommodation in student residence. Consistent with its obligations under the Tennessee Fair Housing Act (FHA), students may request to bring a support animal as a disability accommodation. Below is information describing the policies, procedures and offices responsible for evaluating and approving the use of service animals and support animals on campus.
The University of the South has a “no pet policy” in student residences. Students with disabilities may request an exception to the policy by requesting a disability related accommodation. The following policies have been developed to provide guidance for students with disabilities with a process for requesting and evaluating animal-related accommodations:
University Pet Policy
Students living in housing managed by residential life may not own pets, may not feed or keep pets in the residence hall, nor keep pets anywhere on the Domain. A minimum $25 fine is imposed for violation of this policy. Students may be fined an additional $25 per day that the animal continues to be kept on the Domain in as well as additional sanctions determined by the Director of Community Standards. Students will also be fined for all cleaning related to the presence of the pet, including carpet cleaning. Service animals and approved emotional support animals should follow the expectations communicated to them by the Office of Student Accessibility Services and Residential Life.
Emotional Support Animal
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that provide emotional support and alleviate one or more identified symptoms or effects of an individual’s existing disability. To be considered an accommodation, an ESA must be required by an individual with a disability, in their residence, in order for the individual to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their residence/dwelling. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support are Emotional Support Animals, not Service Animals. Neither dangerous, poisonous, nor illegal animals, nor any animal that poses a direct threat to the health and/or safety of the campus community, will be permitted as ESAs. Size restrictions may also apply.
A Service Animal is a dog or miniature horse individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Service Animals include, but are not limited to: guides for the blind, hearing aids for the deaf/hard of hearing, and Service Animals for individuals with physical disabilities and seizure disorders. Service Animals are not considered “pets” and are explicitly permitted under state and federal civil rights laws.
A therapy animal is an animal owned by a therapist and selected to play an integral part of a person’s treatment process. A therapy animal is prescribed to an individual with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional. A therapy animal is not a Service Animal; a therapy animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. Therapy animals are not allowed in University housing.
A pet is an animal kept for pleasure and companionship. A pet is not considered an Emotional Support Animal or Service Animal. Individuals are not permitted to keep pets on University property or bring pets into University buildings without authorization.
Students Requesting Service or Support Animals
Students using service animals are permitted in all campus buildings, including university housing. Students using emotional support animals are restricted to the individual’s assigned housing unit and are not permitted in any other campus buildings. Students requesting an emotional support animal while on campus must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and receive approval prior to bringing the animal to campus. Students should complete an SAS Intake Form and provide a completed copy of Emotional Support Animal Documentation Form as well as the Rule and Responsibilities of an Emotional Support Animal Owner. Emotional Support animals brought to campus before approval are subject to the University's pet policy and any related penalties.
- Your provider will need to directly send the Emotional Support Animal Documentation Form to SAS. They can do so by emailing it to email@example.com, using our File Upload Form, or by faxing it to 931-598-1803. Please follow up once the file has been sent to confirm that is has arrived.
- Documentation from a paid ESA verification service will not be accepted. Documentation should come from a licensed mental health professional. Other providers such as primary care physicians or other licensed specialists will be reviewed on a case by case basis. While students may submit additional documentation, that additional documentation is not a substitute for the Emotional Support Animal Documentation Form. If you have questions about documentation please feel free to contact SAS.
- ESA request are reviewed by a committee made up of SAS, Residential Life, and Facilities Management staff. The committee meets monthly to review all incoming ESA request.
Students utilizing a service animal should contact SAS prior to bringing the animal to campus.
Students approved for the use of a service or emotional support animal must adhere to University guidelines regarding the responsibilities of the owner. Residential Life will review these guidelines with the owner and will work closely with the student to identify housing options based on availability. Approved animals must meet community and campus health standards, including being current on any state required vaccinations and being neutered or spayed.
Service Animals in the Laboratory Setting
Students, Faculty or Staff wishing to bring a Service Animal into a laboratory setting should first read over the Guidelines Accommodating Students with Disabilities in Laboratories.
Visitors Requesting Service or Support Animals
Visitors should note that the University restricts pets and emotional support animals from public spaces on campus, with the exception of service animals. Visitors accompanied by their service animal shall be accommodated in all public spaces such as auditoriums, athletic venues, cafeterias, etc. Visitors must adhere to University guidelines regarding the use of a service animal while on campus.
If frequent and/or prolonged visits will occur, such as attending conferences, participation in a summer program, etc., visitors should contact Student Accessibility Services to coordinate their accommodation request. Medical documentation from a licensed healthcare provider may be requested if a disability is not obvious.
Reporting Concerns Regarding Service or Support Animals
The University of the South may require any individual to promptly remove any service or emotional support animal from campus that does not abide by the above requirements and expectations, or that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. In such an event, the individual, but not the animal, will remain welcome on campus; and the University will need to engage in an interactive discussion with the individual with a disability to determine whether an alternative form of accommodation can be implemented.
University officials may also report any service or emotional support animal to the city and county animal control authorities which it reasonably believes is not being maintained in compliance with animal health and safety provisions, or any instance where the University believes that an animal is being abused by the person it serves.
Emergencies related to service or support animals: Dial 911 immediately for any emergency, health or safety concerns related to any animal posing a direct threat to the health or safety of anyone on campus.
To report a concern of discrimination on the basis of disability or those who may not have received a disability-related accommodation, please contact the Dean of Students.