Assistance Animals

The scope of this policy is to set forth the College’s policy, guidelines and requirements with respect to the admittance and use of Assistance Animals on its campus. Stonehill College recognizes the importance of Assistance Animals, as defined under the Fair Housing Act, that provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. Stonehill is committed to allowing Assistance Animals necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy college housing. This policy explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an Assistance Animal in college housing. It does not apply to “service animals” as defined by the American's with Disabilities Act, Amendments Act (ADAAA).

In accordance with the Fair Housing Act, residence students with documented disabilities are permitted to have an Assistance Animal in College housing when that Assistance Animal has been approved as a reasonable accommodation for a disability-related need.  However, no Assistance Animal may be kept in college housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval as a reasonable accommodation pursuant to this policy.

Assistance Animal Defined

“Assistance Animals” are a category of animals that may work, provide assistance, or perform physical tasks for an individual with a disability and/or provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of an individual’s disability, but which are not considered Service Animals under the ADAAA.  Some Assistance Animals are professionally trained, but in other cases Assistance Animals provide the necessary support to individuals with disabilities without any formal training or certification.  Dogs are commonly used as assistance animals, but other animals may serve a person with a disability as an Assistance Animal.

The question in determining if an Assistance Animal will be allowed in College housing is whether or not the Assistance Animal is necessary because of the individual’s disability to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing and its presence in College housing is reasonable.  However, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an Assistance Animal and it is allowed in College housing, an Assistance Animal is not permitted in other areas of the College (e.g. dining facilities, library, academic buildings, athletic buildings and facilities, classrooms, labs etc.).

Procedures for Requesting an Assistance Animal

The procedure for requesting Assistance Animals follows the general procedures set forth in the Housing Accommodations Procedures.

  1. Register with the Office Accessibility Resources (OAR) by completing the online registration form.*
    *Students already receiving accommodations through OAR do not have to re-register.
  2. Schedule a meeting to discuss the accommodation request. Set up a meeting by calling (508) 565-1306.
  3. Complete Housing Accommodations Request Form (linked).
  4. Submit disability documentation. Please refer to the Documentation Guidelines for assistance in providing documentation that is appropriate to verify eligibility and support your specific housing accommodation.
    1. Fax documentation to 508-565-1492
    2. Email documentation to
    3. Mail documentation to:
      Office of Accessibility Resources, Stonehill College, 320 Washington Street Easton, MA 02357
    4. In person, by appointment. (Please call 508-565-1306 to request an appointment.)

 A request for an assistance animal may be denied as unreasonable if the presence of the animal: (1) imposes an undue financial and/or administrative burden; (2) fundamentally alters College housing policies; and/or (3) poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including College property.

Stonehill College may consider the following factors, among others, as evidence in determining whether the presence of the animal is reasonable or in the making of housing assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals: 

  1. The size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space;
  2. The animal's presence would force another individual from individual housing (e.g. serious allergies);
  3. The animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet enjoyment;
  4. The animal is not housebroken or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
  5. The animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date;
  6. The animal poses or has posed in the past a direct threat to the individual or others such as aggressive behavior towards or injuring the individual or others

Stonehill will not limit room assignments for individuals with Assistance Animals to any particular building or buildings because the individual needs an Assistance Animal because of a disability.

Where Assistance Animals are Allowed

An Assistance Animal must be contained within the privately assigned individual living accommodations (e.g., room, suite) except to the extent the individual is taking the animal out for natural relief.  When an Assistance Animal is outside the private individual living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness. Assistance Animals are not allowed in any College facilities other than the College residence hall to which the individual is assigned.

Responsibilities of Individuals Using Service/Assistance Animals

While access rights are legally afforded to users of service and assistance animals, that access is accompanied by the responsibility of ensuring that animals act and respond appropriately at all times while in public and that users/handlers adhere to the same socially accepted standards of behavior as other members of  the College community. Users/handlers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their service animals as well as for the cost, care, and supervision of their service animals.

Control Responsibilities

  • Owners must keep the animal under control at all times. A service or assistance animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, at all times outside of the owner’s private quarters or work area.
  • Owners must properly clean up after and dispose of the animal’s waste in a safe and sanitary manner and, when provided, must use animal relief areas designated by Stonehill
  • Relief areas are typically unmowed and unmaintained areas on campus as designated by the College's Facilities Department.  Students with service or assistance animals residing on campus should meet with the Office of Accessibility Resources and Facilities personnel to designate, on an individual basis, appropriate relief areas.  
  • Assistance Animals may not be left overnight in college housing to be cared for by any individual other than the owner. If the owner is to be absent from his/her residence hall overnight or longer, the animal must accompany the owner. The owner is responsible for ensuring that the assistance animal is contained, as appropriate, when the owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities.
  • The owner agrees to abide by all equally applicable residential policies that are unrelated to the individual’s disability such as assuring that the animal does not unduly interfere with the routine activities of the residence or cause difficulties for individuals who reside there.

Financial Responsibilities

  • A person who has an assistance animal on campus is financially responsible for property damage caused by his or her animal including but not limited to cost of repairs, replacement or cleaning of facilities or furnishings, and any bodily injury or personal injury caused to other persons by the service animal.

Licensing/Health/Vaccination Requirements

  • If the animal is residing on campus it must meet Easton's and/or Massachusetts licensing requirements and wear tags designating this license.
  • Animals to be housed in College housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian
  • All animals living in College housing on a regular basis must be vaccinated against diseases common to that type of animal in accordance with state and local laws, rules and regulations.

Owners must comply with the same College rules regarding noise, safety, disruption, and cleanliness as people without disabilities.  If an assistance animal is determined to be out of control (e.g, displaying vicious behavior towards people; excessive barking, running around, nipping); or is not housebroken; the owner may be subject to action within the College’s disciplinary process. The infraction will be reviewed on an individual basis through the student conduct process.  All owners shall promptly comply with any College directive to remove their animal from an area in which it was previously authorized if:

  • it is out of control or its presence create an unmanageable disturbance within the college community and effective action is not taken to control it;
  • it is not housebroken; or
  • it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services.

Public Etiquette for Members of the Stonehill Community

Service and Assistance animals are not pets. Accordingly, the College asks that members of the Stonehill community and visitors adhere to the following best practices when interacting with Service or Assistance animals.

Community members should not:

  • Assume that the animal is a pet.
  • Pet/touch an Assistance Animal.
  • Ask the handler about their specific medical condition.
  • Feed an Assistance Animal.
  • Deliberately startle, tease or taunt an Assistance Animal.

Conflicting Disabilities

Students with medical condition(s) affected by Assistance Animals should contact Accessibility Resources if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to an Assistance Animal.  The individual impacted by the presence of the animal must provide verifiable medical documentation to support his or her claim.  The needs of both individuals will be considered in resolving the issue.

Complaints, Appeals and Exceptions to the Policy

Any claims of discrimination on the basis of a disability or failure to provide reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the Office of Accessibility Resources. Students wishing to request a modification or exception to this policy should also contact the Office of Accessibility Resources. Accommodations Appeal Process


Fair Housing Act: Assistance Animals

Massachusetts Department of Health: Rabies Vaccination

Town of Easton: Dog License Requirements