Assistance Animal Policy

Partner Assistance Animal Management Policy

The University of Chicago Partner Assistance Animal Management Policy defines a Therapy/Companion Animal and clarifies the use and expectations of Assistance Animals.


An Assistance Animal is an animal that provides emotional support which alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. An Assistance Animal is prescribed to an individual with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional. Unlike a Service Animal, an Assistance Animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living or accompany that person at all times. Assistance Animals may be considered in conjunction with access to University housing but they are not permitted in other areas of the University (e.g. libraries, academic buildings, classrooms, dining areas, labs, work areas, student centers, etc.).

A person with a disability using an Assistance Animal is called a Partner.


The purpose of this policy is to provide University administrators and affected Partners with guidelines for the use of Assistance Animals on campus and in University housing. This policy will assist in: understanding the rights of Partners with disabilities who utilize Assistance Animals, and provide a framework for managing the presence of Assistance Animals on campus.

Obtaining Authorization to Have an Assistance Animal On-Campus

  1. The partner should contact the Student Disability Services office as soon as s/he is aware of plans to bring an Assistance Animal to campus.  Partners should make all reasonable efforts to make the request in advance of arrival on campus; failure to do so may result in delay and preclude the use of the Assistance Animal pending approval.
  2. The Partner requesting permission to have an Assistance Animal in conjunction with University housing must provide from a certified clinician a letter which substantiates the need for the Assistance Animal due to a disability.  The letter must be dated and on letterhead.

Campus Access for Assistance Animals

A Partner can only be accompanied by an Assistance Animal in his/her campus residence, campus residence lounge, campus residence courtyards, and hallways that are part of that facility.

Conflicting/Competing Disability Accommodations

Students with medical condition(s) affected by Assistance Animals should contact Student Disability Services if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to an Assistance Animal. The student registering the concern will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s), allowing a determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation.  Thereafter, Student Disability Services will assess the propriety of an accommodation.

Using an Assistance Animal in College Housing & Graduate Student Housing

Assistance Animals must be accompanied by the Partner, properly restrained and remain in close proximity to the Partner, whenever the animal outside the partner’s room/residence.

The Assistance Animal is restricted to the Partner’s residence (room or apartment), the residence lounge and other commons areas which are a part of the residential facility excluding a dining facility. When the Partner is outside the Partner’s residence, the animal must at all times remain under the control of and in close proximity to the Partner.

In University-owned housing units, anytime a service request is submitted to make a repair, the Partner must be present and must contain the Assistance Animal in a room that facilities staff or contractors will not need to enter to complete the repair. The Partner must remain with the Assistance Animal until the repair is complete.

It is the responsibility of the Partner to make arrangements to promptly handle any cleaning that is necessary due to the presence of the Assistance Animal. This includes University-owned housing units’ common areas and exterior property such as courtyards, walkways, and front/back yards. Feces must be cleaned immediately and disposed of properly. Partners living in University-owned housing units with an Assistance Animal may be required to maintain Renter’s Insurance, including liability coverage for the animal.

Removal of an Assistance Animal from a University-Owned Housing Unit or Campus

Animals that engage in aggressive behavior will be required to leave the campus immediately. The Partner of an Assistance Animal is expected to report such incidents to Student Disability Services and the housing unit within 24 hours of the occurrence. The Partner of an Assistance Animal will be required to remove the animal if it exhibits unruly, disruptive, or threatening behavior. This behavior includes but is not limited to excessive noises, running around unrestrained, making unwanted contact with others, or growling/biting or threatening others.

An Assistance Animal that makes excessive noise in a dwelling can be very disruptive to other residents. The Partner will be required to remove the Assistance Animal from campus until the noise is under control.

An excessively unclean or unkempt Assistance Animal may result in the Partner being asked to remove it from campus until acceptable hygiene is achieved. 

Failure to uphold and abide by this policy may result in a Partner not being permitted to keep his/her Assistance Animal in University-owned housing units.

Emergency Situations

In the event of an emergency, responding emergency personnel should be trained to recognize Assistance Animals. The animal may become disoriented from the smell of smoke in a fire or laboratory emergency, or from sirens. The Partner and/or animal may be confused from the stressful situation. Emergency personnel should make every effort to keep the animal with its Partner. However, emergency personnel’s first effort should be to the Partner; this may necessitate leaving the animal behind in certain emergency evacuation situations.

Partner Management of an Assistance Animal

  • Assistance Animals must be maintained in the Partner’s campus residence and/or accompanying grounds;
  • When the Assistance Animal is on the accompanying grounds it must remain in close proximity of the Partner and under the control of the Partner at all times.
  • When the Assistance Animal must exit the living quarters to address biological needs, it must be under the control of the Partner at all times.
  • To the extent possible, the animal should be unobtrusive to other residents.

The Partner may request that others avoid: petting or addressing his/her Assistance Animal; feeding the Assistance Animal; deliberately startling the Assistance Animal; and separating or attempting to separate the Partner from his/her Assistance Animal. Students may inquire if the Partner needs assistance if there seems to be confusion.  To the extent possible, the animal should not:

  • Make contact with others or their personal belongings;
  • Display any behaviors or noises that are disruptive to others;
  • Engage in personal grooming in public settings; and
  • Block an aisle or passageway for fire and/or emergency egress.

Poor Health

Animals that are ill or in poor health should not be taken into public areas. A Partner with an ill animal may be required to remove the animal from University property.


It is the responsibility of the Partner to make arrangements to handle any cleaning that is necessary due to the presence of the Assistance Animal. Feces must be cleaned immediately and disposed of properly; this includes but is not limited to: the campus residence, the campus residence lounge, the campus residence courtyards, and hallways that are part of that facility.

The Partner will be responsible for any damages caused to University property by the Assistance Animal.

Assistance Animal Registration

Individuals who wish to have an Assistance Animal on University property must complete the Assistance Animal Registration Form and provide required documentation as indicated.

Important Links

Illinois and Chicago Laws regarding Companion/Assistance Animals & Owner’s Legal Responsibilities

Fair Housing Act