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Emotional Support (Assistance) Animals

Emotional Support (Assistance) Animals1

Keystone College recognizes the importance of Emotional Support (Assistance) animals in serving students, whose healthcare providers or mental health professionals prescribe the use of animals as contributing to a student’s health and wellbeing. This policy exempts an approved student with a documented disability from any and all College policies that restrict or provide guidance on animals living in College housing or being on Keystone College property in place of the terms in this document.

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 for an individual with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional. A person using an Assistance Animal is called a Partner. An Assistance Animal does not assist a Partner with activities of daily living or accompany that person at all times.

Federal law does not give Assistance Animals access to the College campus as a whole. The College will reasonably accommodate an Assistance Animal in a residence hall or campus apartment; the College does not allow students to bring Assistance Animals to other areas or buildings on campus unless the animal also qualifies as a Service Animal. The qualifications of a Service animal are outlined in a separate policy. An Assistance Animal is permitted so that the student in question will be afforded an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing.

Venomous or other life-threatening animals will not be permitted. Animals that may pass on a disease directly to humans such as rats or turtles will not be permitted.


A Partner requesting the use of an Assistance Animal will follow these steps:

1. Contact Disability Services to initiate the process which begins with submitting supporting documentation.

Provide documentation to Disability Services that follows Keystone College guidelines from a qualified healthcare or mental health professional. A housing accommodation form has been created to assist in gathering some of the needed information; it can be obtained from either the Residence Life or Disability Services departments.

2. If the College communicates in a determination letter that the Partner is permitted to have an Assistance Animal on campus, the Partner must meet with the Director of Residence Life and Director of the Learning Center to determine living arrangements. Other employees or departments may be engaged to assist in this process.

3. Keystone College may use up to 30 working days (starting the day documentation of the disability is received) in order to do its due diligence of gathering and verifying the necessary documentation for the Partner/student and determining eligibility. This documentation includes, but is not limited to: verification of a disability, the determination of any conflicting disabilities in the immediate vicinity where the Assistance Animal will be housed, and verification of all vaccinations and the health of the Assistance Animal including all the necessary licensing. If documentation is immediately available and deemed sufficient, the time for the approval process may be shortened.

Conflicting Disabilities/ Health issues

The College is aware that at times, other persons may have a condition that may cause an allergic reaction or other concern when an animal is in proximity. Persons who have issue with an Assistance Animal should direct the concern to the Director of the Learning Center who supervises Disability Services. Action will be discussed to consider the needs of both parties and resolve the problem as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Using an Assistance Animal in College Housing

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

An Assistance Animal is only permitted in the Partner’s residence (room or apartment), and common areas which are a part of the residential facility, expressly excluding a dining facility. When the Partner is outside the Partner’s residence, the Assistance Animal must at all times remain under the control of and in close proximity to the Partner. An Assistance Animal is not permitted in other areas of the College (e.g. libraries, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, campus center, etc.).

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 College owned housing units common areas and exterior property such as courtyards, walkways, lawns, and front/back yards. Feces must be cleaned immediately and disposed of properly.

When an Assistance Animal must exit the living quarters to address biological needs, it must be under the control of the Partner at all times. Feces must be cleaned immediately and disposed of properly; this includes but is not limited to: the campus residence, the campus residence lounge, residence exterior and courtyards, hallways that are part of the residence facility, and common areas and grounds.

Animals may not be unattended for more than 5 consecutive hours and must be removed from campus during breaks or other extended periods if the Partner is not on campus.

Owner Responsibilities

Control: It is the responsibility of the person with a disability to control their Assistance Animal, the College is not responsible for the care or supervision of an animal. Furthermore, an animal may be excluded from the premises if the animal is (1) out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or (2) the animal is not housebroken.

Damages: The owner is financially responsible for the actions of their animal including, but not
limited to: bodily injury, house damages, and campus property damages.

Leash and Clean-Up: The animal must be on a leash at all times. The handler must always carry equipment to clean up animal waste.

License: All Assistance Animals must meet any and all license requirements of Wyoming and/or Lackawanna County and wear those licensing tags if mandated by law or other public policy. Animal Records are maintained by the Office of Disability Services and shared with the Campus Safety and Residence Life departments. It may be shared with other departments if necessary.

Health: All Assistance Animals must be clean and in good health. All Assistance Animals must have all veterinarian recommended vaccinations. These records are maintained by the Office of Disability Services. If the health or hygiene of a Service Animal is not maintained, the Assistance Animal may be excluded from campus.

Other: The College may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on Assistance Animals depending on the nature and characteristics of the animal.

Removal of an Assistance Animal from College Owned Housing 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 the Director of Residence Life. 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 College owned housing units.


If for any reason the animal is excluded from campus for a short-term or long-term period, the individual with a disability who uses the animal will be given the opportunity to continue to utilize or participate in college living without the animal on premises.

Appeals Procedure

Keystone College has established procedures to address student concerns when a student believes his or her rights are not being appropriately addressed. Please see the Disability Services portion of the official Keystone College website or contact the Office of Disability Services for a copy of the official grievance procedures.

1 Please note that the College has a distinct policy regarding Service Animals that differs from this policy

Contact Us

Disability Services

Frank Ohotnicky, M.S.
Director of Disability Support and Success
Email: frank.ohotnicky@keystone.edu

Tel: 570-945-8988
Fax: 570-945-8969
Email: disabilityservices@keystone.edu

Office Hours:
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Hours subject to change)