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Students with Emotional Problems Allowed to have Service Dogs in Dormitories

College students who have physical disabilities are allowed to have service dogs in their dormitories. This practice is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); however, some students who have emotional problems own service dogs that are not allowed in dormitories at some universities.

Some therapy dogs are employed for students with emotional challenges.
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

In 2013, a lawsuit was filed by the United States against a university in Nebraska for a highly depressed student who was denied the right to have a therapy dog in her dormitory. The United States representative noted that the FHA does, in fact, allow students with emotional problems to have therapy dogs in federally-owned dormitories.

Students are allowed to have therapy dogs in federally-owned dormitories because these dormitories are considered temporary housing. Another reason a student could have a therapy dog in a dormitory is that the student’s situation could have a certain type of exception to the normal rules. One such exception that qualifies a student to have a therapy dog in a dormitory is the age of the student. If the student is not nineteen yet and is living in a dormitory for adults aged 21 and over, the student with anxiety issues is allowed to have a therapy dog. This exception sometimes applies due to the fact that students who do not leave campus for holidays or breaks are often left alone.

The lawsuit that allowed an emotionally depressed student to have a therapy dog in a dormitory applied to a university in Nebraska; however, other courts may decide to rule in favor of the ADA law concerning emotionally challenged individuals as well. Due to the fact that the federal government supports the Americans with Disabilities Act which includes emotionally challenged individuals, universities may need to ensure they can accommodate emotional therapy dogs in the future.



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