Disability Services for Students

302 Memorial Union Univeristy of Rhode Island Kingston, RI 02881


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Service Animals for Persons with Disabilities

URI Policy and Procedure

This document is adapted directly from the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division’s statement on Service Animals located at http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm


Disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual.

Service Animal: a working dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, performing other duties, etc. The work or task that the dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

A service dog is specifically NOT a pet. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Service-puppies-in-training: Under Rhode Island statute, puppies who are being raised and trained by agencies such as Guiding Eyes for the Blind or other legitimate training agencies are afforded similar privileges and access as certified service dogs. For the specific procedure to follow, please contact the Dean of Student’s Office, Assistant Dean of Students for Accessibility and Inclusion, at dss@etal.uri.edu or by phone 401-874-2098.

URI Policy

It is the general policy of the University of Rhode Island (“URI”) that pets ARE NOT allowed in campus buildings or in URI Housing Facilities.

However, URI recognizes that service dogs are not pets, but are working animals making a valuable contribution to students, faculty and staff who may have disabilities needing the assistance of a service dog.

Where service dogs are allowed: Under the ADA and State/Local government regulations, service dogs are allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the university where students, faculty, staff, or members of the public are allowed to go. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service dog from certain sterile environments or where the presence of the dog creates a risk of harm or disruption.

(For example: service dogs are allowed in classrooms, administrative buildings, residential areas and dining areas. However, a dog may be excluded from surgical areas or animal research areas where the dog would create a disruption or compromise a sterile environment. In such cases alternate accommodations will be provided to the person with the disability)

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons to deny access to a service dog.

Service Animals Must Be Under Control: under the ADA and RI State Statute, service animals must, at all times, be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or if the individual’s disability prevents use of these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Inquiries about Service Animals: when it is not obvious what service an animal is providing, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask TWO questions:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff may not ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. Please contact the Dean of Students Office for more information.

Notification about the presence of service dogs: A person with a disability is not required to notify the university about their service dog. However, in order to provide better and more inclusive support and/or accommodations, we encourage students who have service dogs to identify to Disability Services for Students at 401-874-2098 or dss@etal.uri.edu. In this way we can facilitate easier communication with faculty and we may be able to provide additional accommodations or services that support student success at URI.

Service Puppies: students who are designated puppy raisers from legitimate training agencies such as Guiding Eyes for the Blind must identify to the Dean of Students Office and follow separate procedures for obtaining permission to have puppies in university facilities. Please call 401-874-2098 to set up an appointment with the Assistant Dean of Students for Accessibility and Inclusion.

Removing a service dog: A person will not be asked to remove their service dog from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it, or (2) the dog is not housebroken. If there is legitimate reason to remove a service animal, the person with the disability will be afforded alternative accommodations that substitute for the animal’s presence.

Other Policies: Responsibility for Service Dogs in URI Facilities

The following policies are pertinent to Service Dogs whose work it is to perform a specific disability-related service for a person with a disability.

  • URI is not responsible for the care or supervision of the service dog.
  • The animal’s owner is responsible for the cost, care, and supervision of the service dog, including:
    • Compliance with any laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination, and owner identification;
    • Keeping the animal under control and taking effective action when it is out of control;
    • Feeding, walking, and disposing of waste;
    • Waste disposal via university plumbing is prohibited in university residences, academic buildings or administrative buildings. Generally outside trash receptacles are appropriate. Please check with Housing and Residential Life Staff or the Dean of Students Office for guidance.
  • URI will not require any surcharges or fees for a service dog in URI Residence Halls, because it is a disability-related accommodation. However, the animal’s owner may be charged for damage caused by a service dog to the same extent that URI would normally charge any person for the damage they cause to university property.
  • People who use service dogs will not be segregated from or treated less favorably than other residents or employees.
  • People with disabilities who live with, who attend classes with, or who work with service dogs, must comply with all university rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness.
  • In all cases, the owner of the animal is responsible for the animal’s behavior and is subject to disciplinary action via the URI Student Conduct process (or HR intervention for employees).
  • In all cases, the owner of the animal will agree to hold harmless the University of Rhode Island for any damage or any injury to others caused by their service dog.
  • If necessary, the removal of any service dog, with any necessary cleaning, repairs and/or pest control will be done at the expense of the responsible resident.
  • A student resident will be permitted to have no more than one animal due to the confined residential living space.
  • Students must verify that the service dog’s medical and vaccination records are current.  Please contact Disability Services for Students with this information.
  • A service dog must be housebroken (i.e., trained so that it controls its waste elimination, absent illness or accident).
  • In addition to provisions for service dogs, provisions will also be made for a miniature horse as a service animal if it has been individually trained to perform tasks or to do work for a person with a disability. Four factors will determine whether a miniature horse can be accommodated: (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 will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.


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