Can I keep a turtle in my dorm room as a service animal to accommodate my anxiety disorder?
A turtle or other animal that simply provides a companion for stress relief and relaxation does not meet the definition of a service animal and therefore the institution may not allow it in campus housing. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a service animal is "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government." Assistance may include help with navigation for someone with a visual impairment, response to noises for someone who is deaf, early warning for someone who has regular seizures, or retrieving items and opening doors for someone with a mobility impairment.
The ADA requires that service animals be permitted in public places, including residence halls. It is always a good idea to inform your institution that you have a service animal and let them know how this might impact your housing needs.
You may also be interested in reading the DO-IT Knowledge Base article Is allowing the use of service animals and therapy pets in campus housing considered a reasonable accommodation?
Last update or review: July 12, 2010