Comfort Animals

Comfort Animals are a growing trend on college campuses today. A comfort animal is NOT a service animal, but is more than just a pet.  A comfort animal can be any species and provides comfort to a person by its mere presence; it has not been trained to perform any special function.  In contrast, a service animal has to be a dog (or a miniature horse) and has been trained to perform a specific function related to the person’s disability.  For example, a dog which has been trained to help a vision impaired person navigate his/her environment would be a service animal.  If an anxious person is calmed by petting a cat, the cat likely could serve as a comfort animal.  Another distinction between a service and comfort animal is where the animal can go.  A comfort animal is limited to the person’s living space while a service animal can go anywhere the person is allowed to go.  A service animal can go to class, the dining hall, the library, and even to the hospital while the comfort animal cannot. 

--- Dr. Noles has over 20 years experience in the area of disability accommodations for college students.  He wrote the first accepted recommendation for a comfort animal at the University of Richmond.  He is well-acquainted with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws which regulate this field.  He is a member of the Association for High Education and Disability and serves as the Learning Disability Consultant to various colleges.    

Other Articles by Dr. Noles

Tips 1-8 for Student Athletes Entering College  

Tips 9-16 for Student Athletes Entering College

Perspective Is Everything

Steven W. Noles, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist & Certified Sports Psychologist