Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Service Dogs in College Residence Halls or Domitories

This article comes from a question from a reader. Service dogs are meant  to allow for greater independence; college being the first time a lot of young adult with disabilities are away from home and familiar  supports is a common time for people to want a service dog. Preparing for, caring for, and living with service dog in a dorm/residence hall situation is no easy task; while some of the considerations may be the same as for any multiple dwelling scenario (i.e. apartments, condominiums, hotels) this living situation also holds some particular challenges and considerations.
Similarities to an apartment/condo:
  • You are requesting a reasonable accommodation and therefore may be asked to go through a specific process where in you provide documentation that a service dog is needed to mitigate your  disability allowing you equal access to the facilities and services of the dwelling. sometimes this can be a headache and some what complicated so give yourself plenty of time to complete the process.
  • You may be require to show proof that your service dog is in compliance with local animal control regulations for example licensed and vaccinated.
  • You may need to sign that you have read, understand, and agree to comply with pet policies regarding maintaining control of you dog (keeping them on leash), where your animal may eliminate and clean up responsibilities, your responsibility for any damage to the property or other people caused by your dog, you will not knowing harbor a dangerous animal (an animal with a bite history is considered dangerous in most places).
  • Violating the pet policies can be grounds for eviction
 Differences From an Apartment/Condo: 
  • There are many spaces that are shared such as bathrooms and lounges that may present special challenges as far whether your dog is on duty, off duty, or some middle ground.
  • You are living with people who for the most are out on their own for the first time and sometimes setting boundaries and rules can be a challenge, especially when all you want to do is to fit in.
  • You are living under the campus animal policies 24/7 and violating them may be grounds for eviction even if you feel like you are "at home" and should be able to  do what you would "at home" because you are on campus property 
  • The sometimes erratic schedules and behavior of college students could hard for a service dog to adjust to

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