Assistance Animal Guidelines

University of Mary Washington

The University of Mary Washington (UMW) is dedicated to making reasonable accommodations to afford students with disabilities equal opportunity to use and enjoy University Housing. This document sets forth guidelines for UMW students who maintain assistance animals in UMW managed residence facilities. If there are questions concerning these guidelines, you may reach the Office of Disability Resources (ODR) at 540-654-1266 or Residence Life at 540-654-1058 or .

Note: Established UMW and ODR housing procedures and deadlines related to submission of requests, availability of rooms, location assignments, fees, etc. continue to apply to students who keep assistance animals in their University residence.


Assistance Animals:  Assistance Animals is an overarching term that includes both Service Animals and Support Animals. This term does not include Pets.

Service Animals: Any animal (dogs)that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability and meets the definition of “service animal” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (28 CFR 35.104). The task or work a service animal has been trained to do must directly relate to the individual’s disability. Examples include, but are not limited to: assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing, assisting individuals during seizures, assisting with retrieval of items, assistance with balance and stability, and preventing or interrupting behaviors. The function of providing comfort, emotional support, well-being, or companionship does not constitute “work or tasks” for the purpose of qualifying as a Service Animal. The term Service Animal includes dogs in training to be Service Animals when they are accompanied by a trainer and identified as a dog in training.

Support Animals: Support animal is an umbrella term that includes comfort/therapy/support animals.  A support animal is an animal that provides emotional or other support which ameliorates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. The animal must be a reasonable accommodation for the individual and necessary to allow the individual equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing.

Pet: A “pet” is any animal kept for ordinary use and companionship.  Pets are not covered by this policy.  Residents are not permitted to keep Pets, except fish, in UMW residences.

Approved Animal: An ”Approved Animal”  is a Service Animal registered with the ODR or a Support Animal that has been granted as a reasonable accommodation under this policy.

Handler: The Handler is the student resident (one person only) that has requested the accommodation and received approval to have the Assistance Animal live in on-campus residential housing.  Handler includes a trainer of a dog in training to be a Service Animal.



Requests to have Support Animals reside in on-campus housing should be made by:

  1. Submitting to ODR documentation of Disability-Related Needs for Housing Accommodations (student and physician-completed form) as well as supporting materials from the physician including a letter ON THE PHYSICIAN’S LETTERHEAD with the date of the most recent office visit of the student, his/her professional credentials, and his/her signature.
  2. Completing a Permission for Release of Information form (student/parent completed form).

Registration of Service Animals to reside in on-campus housing should be made by:

  1. Contacting Residence Life and filling out a Service Animal Registration Form (student-completed form).
  2. Completing a Permission for Release of Information form (student/parent completed form).

These forms and additional information about the application process may be found on the UMW Office of Disability Resources website at .  Students must reapply every year for housing accommodations.

All requests to have Assistance Animals reside in on-campus housing are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Approval of Support Animals is limited to one animal.  Requests for additional Support Animals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


Some restrictions on the placements available in UMW housing may apply for individuals with Assistance Animals. These restrictions are based on structural limitations, weight guidelines, and size of dwelling units. Each request for an Assistance Animal in UMW housing is reviewed and room assignments are made on a case-by-case basis. For additional information contact the Assistant Dean of Residence Life at 540-654-1058 or .


The University of Mary Washington is not responsible for the supervision, cost, or care of Assistance Animals. Handler responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Full control of the animal at all times
  • Insuring that the animal is not unduly disruptive
  • Compliance with laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination, and identification
  • Feeding, walking, waste disposal (in University approved areas/containers)
  • Owner/handler financial responsibility for property damage, bodily injury, or cleaning and repair expenses beyond the standard (the student may be billed or their University account may be charged for damages)
  • Insuring that the animal is not left unattended for extended amounts of time

Please click here for a complete listing of owner/handler responsibilities and expectations.


Grounds for removal of animals may include, but are not limited to:

  • Assistance Animal causes or threatens harm to an individual
  • Assistance Animal causes excessive noise or disruption
  • Assistance Animal causes Damage to University property or property of other residents
  • Handler fails to maintain control of the animal
  • Handler fails to properly care for and maintain an animal, including lack of hygiene/grooming or leaving the animal unattended for extended amounts of time

The Associate Director of Residence Life, or his or her designee, shall determine whether there are grounds to remove an Assistance Animal from the Residence Halls.  If a decision is made that an animal poses an immediate threat to others, the animal must be removed immediately notwithstanding the opportunity to seek an appeal as set forth below. Under other circumstances, the handler shall be given written notice to remove the animal within 48 hours.  The handler may appeal the decision to the Assistant Dean of Residence Life by delivering within 24 hours a written explanation as to why the Assistance Animal should not be removed.  A decision on the appeal will be made within three business days of receipt of the appeal and will be final.



At UMW we are committed to meeting the needs of all individuals with disabilities and will expeditiously review and resolve issues with conflicting disabilities.


Students that may have allergic reactions or phobias to animals severe enough to be considered disabilities should contact the Office of Disability Resources at 540-654-1266 or  to request accommodations. Students choosing to disclose an allergy or a phobia on their housing application form, will be given consideration, and every effort made to lessen the exposure to the animal.


Faculty/staff requesting disability related accommodations due to allergic reactions or phobias to animals should contact the Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Affirmative Action-Equal Employment Opportunity Officer at 540-654-1214.

Grievance Procedures

For detailed information on the Grievance Procedure at the University of Mary Washington, please click the following link.

Discrimination Complaint Procedures