SP 16-70a – Animals on Campus

Colorado Community College System / System Procedure

SP 16-70a

APPROVED: April 13, 2022
EFFECTIVE: April 13, 2022

REFERENCE(S): Board Policy (BP) 16-70, Animals on Campus


/ Joseph A. Garcia /
Joseph A. Garcia, Chancellor


This procedure applies to the Colorado Community College System, including its Colleges (CCCS or System).


Federal and state law protect the right to a service animal for qualified individuals with disabilities. The federal Fair Housing Act allows emotional support animals in student housing, with appropriate documentation, to afford a student with a documented disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their housing.


“Emotional support animal (ESA)” is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of a disability, to an individual with a documented disability. ESA animals are typically dogs and cats, but may include other animals, and are allowed on college campuses in limited circumstances.

“Handler” is the individual with a disability using a service or emotional support animal on campus, a person responsible for handling the animal in order to assist the individual with the disability, or a person responsible for a pet on campus.

“Pets” are defined as any animal that does not qualify as a service animal or ESA.

“Qualified individual with a disability” is an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, who has a history or record of such an impairment, or who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

“Service animals” are defined as dogs or, on a limited, case-by-case basis, a miniature horse that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under this procedure.


Each College may adopt procedures consistent with the following to address the presence of service animals, emotional support animals, and pets on campus.


Service animals are working animals, not emotional support animals or pets. The work or task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Examples of service animal’s work or tasks include, but are not limited to, the following: guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.

Service animals with their handlers are allowed in any location where the handlers are allowed. Locations in which food is prepared or sold must allow service animals even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premise.

Service animals may be excluded from campus if:

  1. The animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it;
  2. The animal is not housebroken;
  3. The animal’s handler is mistreating or neglecting the animal; or
  4. The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service dog that displays vicious or unsafe behavior towards others may be excluded.

Each situation must be considered individually. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, the individual with the disability can meet with Accessibility Services to discuss options.

Staff members are not permitted to ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the service animal, and/or ask that the service animal demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task. When it is not obvious whether an animal is a pet or service animal, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

If the above inquiries are made and, as a result, it becomes clear that the animal is not a service animal, the animal may be excluded from the building or area by staff, or otherwise treated the same as any other non-service animal on campus.

Under Colorado law, it is a crime to knowingly misrepresent an animal as a service animal. Misrepresenting an animal as a service animal can result in fines pursuant to Colorado statute and the individual may be referred for discipline under applicable policies and procedures (for students and employees), or removed from campus (for guests, visitors and other third parties).

A service animal in training is permitted when accompanied by a trainer and identified as such. A service animal in training and its trainer must meet the same behavioral expectations as a service animal.


ESAs are subject to the same documentation and approval procedures as other disability accommodations. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals may be restricted from places of public accommodation. In accordance with the federal Fair Housing Act, students with disabilities may be allowed to have an ESA within campus housing facilities with prior approval. They are not allowed to enter classrooms, recreational facilities, or other campus buildings. A student may be able to have an ESA in the residence halls as a reasonable accommodation if:

  1. The student has a qualifying, documented disability;
  2. The animal is necessary to afford the student with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling; and
  3. There is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the support the animal provides.

Approved ESAs should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Permitted in student’s assigned housing space only and must be crated or caged when unattended in the student’s room.
  • Kept in an animal carrier or controlled by an appropriate harness or short leash when outside of the student’s room.
  • Not left unattended in the student’s room for an unreasonable amount of time, as appropriate for the animal.
  • Not left in campus housing if the student is to be absent from College housing overnight or longer.
  • Not cared for on campus by any individual other than the student approved for the emotional support animal.

The presence of service animals and/or ESAs may be subject to other limitations as specified by law. For example, if the animal’s presence in any specific area would:

  1. Fundamentally alter College operations (including the operations of the residence halls);
  2. Pose an undue financial or administrative burden to the College; and/or
  3. Represent a threat to the health or safety of others.

The handler of an animal will be fully responsible for:

  • Control of the animal at all times, whether by harness, leash, voice control, signals, or other effective means.
  • Appropriate care of the animal to ensure it is regularly bathed, groomed, and treated for fleas and ticks.
  • Compliance with state and local requirements regarding rabies and any other vaccinations (the service animal or ESA must wear a valid vaccination tag at all times), as well as state and local requirements regarding licensure and leash control.
  • Prompt and thorough cleanup and disposal of waste in a closed container and appropriate trash bin.

The handler will be solely responsible for any damage caused by the animal, including damages for an injury such as a bite caused by an uncontrolled animal.


In the event of a dispute about an accommodation relating to an ESA or validity of a service animal, a student may file a complaint in accordance with College procedures.


Colleges may adopt procedures regarding the presence of pets on campus. Such procedures may completely ban pets on campus or allow for pets subject to applicable rules and restrictions.


CCCS reserves the right to change any provision or requirements of this procedure at any time and the change shall become effective immediately.