Procedure for Requesting an AssistanceAnimal

as an Exception to the Residential Pet Policy

For the purpose of this policy, the term “assistance animal” refers to “service animals,” “emotional support animal”, “accommodation animals” and “necessary assistance animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, and other applicable laws.

The health and safety of F&M students, faculty, staff, and the assistance animal is an important concern; therefore, each request for such an accommodation will be made on a case by case basis. In reviewing requests for assistance animals, the Office of Disability Services (ODS) consults as necessary with a wide variety of appropriate experts.

In all cases, the owner of the animal is responsible for the animal’s behavior. The removal of any accommodation animal and any necessary cleaning, repairs and/or pest control will be done at the expense of the resident responsible who may also be subject to disciplinary action. Residents will be permitted to have no more than one animal due to confined residential living space.

Any resident wanting an assistance animal to live in the residence must prepare a written Request for Exception, which includes a typed cover letter with an explanation of the disability-related need for the animal, the types of tasks, if any; the animal is trained to perform, as well as a description of the animal, including type and the animal’s name.

A Request for an Exception to the Pet Policy should be submitted to ODS. With the exception of a trained service dog, the animal should not be in residence unless/until the Request is approved. The approval of a Request is animal-specific and is not transferable to another or different animal.

If the animal is a trained service dog trained to perform service tasks, then the resident’s Request for Exception must answer two questions:

(1) Is this a service animal that is required because of a disability? and (2) What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform? ODS requires appropriate medical documentation verifying the resident’s disability.

If the animal is not a dog, or the animal (even if a dog) is not trained to perform service tasks but is an assistive animal, then the resident may request a reasonable accommodation in the form of an assistance animal. In this case, the resident’s Request for Exception must answer these two questions:

(1) Does the resident (asking to use and live with the animal) have a disability — i.e., a physical or psychological impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?

(2) Does the resident making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal?

The resident’s Request for Exception must include a letter from a treating physician or licensed mental health professional documenting the disability and/or disability-related need for the animal. The letter must outline:

a) Verification of the disability the animal is supporting

b) How the animal serves as an accommodation for the verified disability

c) How the need for the animal relates to the ability of the resident to use and enjoy the living arrangements provided by the College

Requests for an assistive animal as a disability-related accommodation may be denied if granting the request would constitute an undue financial or administrative burden, or would fundamentally alter the nature of a campus approved housing living space. In addition, animal accommodation requests may be denied if:

(1) the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation,  

(2) the specific assistance animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. Breed, size, and weight limitations are not applicable to an assistance animal.

All documentation must be submitted to Dr. Alison Hobbs, Disability Services Coordinator ( or 717-358-5988).  Documentation may also be submitted by mail to:

Disability Services

Franklin and Marshall College

P.O. Box 3003

Lancaster, PA 17604-3003


1. The Request will be reviewed for completeness and we will work with the resident to obtain any necessary additional materials.

2. We will notify the resident by email of the decision to accept or decline the request for an exception to the Residential Pet Policy in the form of permission to have an Assistance Animal in the residence.

     a. If the request is accepted, ODS will work with the appropriate House Dean to:

          i. Coordinate with the resident and House staff, to determine a suitable location for the resident               and animal to reside

          ii. Review the Guidelines for maintaining the community standards while the animal is in                             residence.

     b. If the request is declined, if requested, ODS will work with the resident to set                                                 appropriate timelines for the resident to find alternative housing arrangements where an                       Assistance Animal is permitted.

3. The decision of the ODS may be appealed, in writing, within fifteen business days of the date on the decision email. Written appeals must be submitted to:

Dean Maria Flores-Mills, Senior Associate Dean of the College

Office of the Dean of the College

P.O. Box 3003

Lancaster, PA 17604-3003


Appeals must state a specific reason for reconsideration. Appeals may only be based on:

a) New information, that was not available at the time of the initial review, to support the animal as an accommodation, or

b) A procedural error that occurred which unfairly affected the decision in the request.


If the Request for an Exception to the Pet Policy is granted, the resident must enter into the following agreements and complete the following additional information regarding the animal:

1. Assistance Animal Registration Form

2. Up-to-date veterinary record certifying that the animal has all recommended vaccinations to maintain the animal’s health and prevent contagious diseases

3. Signed Guidelines for Maintaining an Assistance Animal within the Residential Community document