Animals on Campus (Including Service and Assistance Animals)Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Teachers College Policy Library
Owner: Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Teachers College Policy on Animals on Campus
(Including Service and Assistance Animals)
Teachers College generally prohibits animals in Campus buildings. However, the College recognizes the importance of Service and Assistance Animals for individuals with disabilities and has established this policy regarding Service Animals (and Service Animals in training) and Assistance Animals, to accommodate them.
Specific requirements and guidelines concerning Service and Assistance Animals are set out below. Teachers College reserves the right to amend this policy at any time.
Please note that the keeping of dogs and other animals is also subject to federal, state and city laws, including Article 161 of the New York City Health Code, which prohibits the keeping of certain animals in New York City and sets certain licensing, vaccination and control requirements.
Section I. Definitions
A. Service Animal
- A dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. No other animal qualifies as a Service Animal.
- The work or task a Service Animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.
- Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support are not Service Animals, but may qualify as Assistance Animals (discussed below).
- Service Animals are permitted throughout campus with the exception of locations with health and safety restrictions (i.e. where the animals may be in danger, or where their use may compromise the integrity of research, such as custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, and certain research laboratories).
B. Assistance Animal
- Any animal that is specifically designated by a qualified and knowledgeable person as affording an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, provided there is a nexus between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides.
- Unlike a Service Animal, an Assistance Animal need not assist a person with activities of daily living, and does not accompany a person with a disability at all times.
- Assistance Animals may be considered for access to College Housing, but are not permitted in other areas of the College.
- An animal kept for ordinary companionship.
- For purposes of this Policy, a Service or Assistance Animal is not a Pet. Residents may not keep Pets in TC housing except as specifically authorized under the housing policies.
D. Approved Animal.
- A Service Animal or an Assistance Animal that is permitted in TC housing as a reasonable accommodation under this policy.
- An individual with a disability who brings an Approved Animal on campus.
Section II. Procedures for Service Animals in Campus Housing
Service animals are welcome in most parts of the College. Owners (including faculty/employees or family members) planning to bring Service Animals to reside in college housing are asked to follow the Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Campus Housing to allow the College to properly accommodate their animals and appropriately consider the needs of other residents who may suffer from allergies or otherwise need to limit contact with animals.
Section III. Procedures for Assistance Animals in Campus Housing
Owners planning to bring Assistance Animals to reside in Campus Housing are required to follow these steps:
1. Owners seeking permission to keep an Assistance Animal in College Housing must first register with the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID) and provide the appropriate documentation establishing them as an individual as a disability as outlined on the OASID website (https://www.tc.columbia.edu/oasid/forms/).
2. Documentation of the need for an Assistance Animal should be current -- dated within the last 6 months -- and should generally include the following information:
a. Verification of the individual’s disability from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional,
b. Description of how the animal serves as an accommodation for the verified disability, and
c. Description of how the need for the animal relates to the individual’s ability to use and enjoy the living arrangements provided by the College.
3. Owners approved to house an Assistance Animal must meet with OASID to review requirements and responsibilities within one week of receiving approval. Owners are required to schedule this meeting.
4. Owners whose request for an Assistance Animal through this process is not granted may appeal that decision to the Section 504 Compliance Officer and will be provided with procedures to do so.
Section IV. Conflicting Health Conditions
Students with medical condition(s) affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) should contact OASID if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a Service or Assistance Animal or need reasonable accommodations relating to others’ Service or Assistance Animals.
Housing personnel will make a reasonable effort to notify tenants in College housing where the Approved Animal will be located.
OASID along with Residential Services staff will work to try to resolve any conflict as a result of the presence of an Approved Animal in a timely manner. Staff members will consider the conflicting needs and/or accommodation requests of all persons involved.
Section V. Owner’s Responsibilities
1. The Owner is responsible for complying with the Care and Supervision requirements discussed below and ensuring that the Approved Animal does not unduly interfere with the activities of the residence or other residents.
2. The Owner is responsible for the actions of the Approved Animal, including any injury to persons or damage to property.
3. The Owner must notify OASID in writing if the Approved Animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence.
4. An Owner who wishes to bring a new Approved Animal to campus must notify OASID at least two weeks before bringing a different animal into College Housing.
5. If an animal is to be kept in student housing, all roommates or suitemates of the Owner must sign an agreement allowing the Approved Animal to be in residence with them. In the event that one or more roommate or suitemate does not approve, either the owner and animal or the non-approving roommates or suitemates, as determined by Residential Life, may be moved to a different location.
6. Service Animals are generally permitted throughout campus; Assistance Animals must be kept within the privately assigned residential area (room, suite, apartment), except when being transported in an animal carrier or on a leash.
7. Approved Animals should not be left overnight in College Housing without their owners.
Any violation of these rules may result in immediate removal of the animal from the College. An Owner may appeal the decision to remove an animal with the Section 504 Compliance Officer and will be provided with procedures to do so.
Section VI. Guidelines for Maintaining an Approved Animal at Teachers College
These guidelines apply to all Approved Animals and their Owners, unless the nature of the documented disability of the Owner precludes adherence to these guidelines, and permission for a variance from the guidelines has been granted by OASID.
B. Care and Supervision
The Owner is responsible for the care and supervision of the animal and must maintain control of the animal at all times.
The Owner is also responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the animal's waste and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in areas designated by the College consistent with the reasonable capacity of the Owner. Indoor animal waste, such as cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied before being disposed of. Litter boxes should be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto carpeted surfaces.
C. Animal Health and Well-being
1. Vaccination: In accordance with local law, the animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccinations against rabies and wear a rabies vaccination tag.
2. Health: Animals other than cats and dogs must have an annual clean bill of health (i.e. the animal has received all annual vaccinations) from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the animal or a veterinarian's statement regarding the animal's health. The College has authority to direct that the animal receive veterinary attention.
3. Pests. The College may inspect the Owner's residence for fleas, ticks or other pests and may require pest treatment. The Owner is responsible for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls.
4. Licensing: New York law requires that dogs be licensed and have a license tag attached to their collars when in public. The College reserves the right to request documentation of the dog’s license.
5. Leash: Dogs must be on a leash when in public unless the leash would inhibit the animal's ability to be of service.
6. Other Conditions: OASID may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on animals depending on the nature and characteristics of the animal.
D. Guidelines for Faculty, Staff, Students, and Other Members of the College Community
1. All members of the College community must allow Service Animals to accompany their Owners at all times and in all places on campus, except where animals are specifically prohibited because of health and safety restrictions.
2. All members of the community should interact with Owners and their Animals respectfully and appropriately.
- Do not treat Service or Assistance Animals as an excuse to ask about the owner's disabilities. The nature of a person's disability is a private matter.
- Do not touch or pet a Service or Assistance Animal unless invited to do so by its Owner. Interactions may interfere with the Animal’s work.
- Do not feed a Service or Assistance Animal unless requested by the Owner.
- Do not deliberately startle a Service or Assistance Animal.
- Do not separate or attempt to separate an Owner from his or her Service or Assistance Animal.
3. Members of the College Community may contact OASID at 212-678-3689 or email@example.com with any questions or concerns regarding a Service or Assistance Animal.
E. Removal of Approved Animal
The College may exclude or remove any animal unless the animal is on-campus as permitted under this policy. The College may exclude/remove an Approved Animal if:
1. The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others,
2. The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the College's programs or activities,
3. The owner does not comply with Owner’s Responsibilities, or
4. The animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference.
If the approved animal causes a problem such that it needed to be removed, Residential Services will give the occupant the option of removing the animal or vacating the residence. If the occupant vacates the residence, Residential Services will prorate the housing charge. Residents found with an unauthorized pet must remove the pet and will not be released from their housing contract.
I have read the Teachers College Policy on Animals on Campus and will comply with it. I will not bring an Assistance Animal onto Campus until I am authorized to do so. I understand that I am responsible for complying with Guidelines applicable to my Service or Assistance Animal and that I am responsible for any injury or damage caused by Approved Animal.
Owner Signature Date
OASID Representative Date
Housing Representative Date
Animal Registration Form
Owner’s Work Phone:
Type of Animal:
Physical Description of Animal:
Please attach the Veterinarian’s verification that the animal has all Veterinary-recommended vaccinations to maintain the animal’s health and prevent contagious disease. Also include a copy of New York’s required animal license (for dogs only).
Responsible Office: Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Last Updated: August 8, 2018