Following careful consideration of concerns relating to the presence of dogs in UC buildings, a decision was made to establish an Animals on Campus Policy which allows animals on campus if restrained, and restricts access to animals in UC buildings except for exceptional circumstances that have been approved by the Vice-Chancellor.
The starting point for the policy was to consider the health and safety of all staff and students, including phobias and allergies triggered by the close proximity of animals. All staff should have the right to a safe and healthy working environment.
Since the policy was announced, the Vice-Chancellor has received a total of nine requests to allow ten animals into buildings. In two of these occasions, medical evidence was provided explaining the animal concerned supported the wellbeing of a staff member.
The general argument from these requests is that the animal concerned (mainly but not exclusively dogs) has regularly come into UC buildings, in some cases for a number of years, and it would be inconvenient if a past practice was not allowed to continue. The requests assert that these animals have never caused a problem and in some cases, written support has also been provided by colleagues in close proximity to the animal concerned.
No requests have been made for a certified support animal, such as a seeing eye dog, or a dog to support the hearing impaired etc.
The Vice-Chancellor concluded that a strict interpretation of the policy is the only way to ensure consistent and fair treatment and therefore advised all applicants that they were no longer able to bring their animals into UC buildings.
He did however offer a transition period, strictly for those that had already submitted an exemption request, which will end on 31 December 2018. Staff were strongly encouraged to contact their HR Advisor for other ways UC can provide support with emotional health and wellbeing.
For more, please refer to the Animals on Campus Policy, now available from the Policy Library>
Why is there a need for this policy?
To ensure we meet our obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and to provide a framework for balancing the needs and wellbeing of all people on campus.
Who is liable if an animal on campus injures a student, staff member, or another animal: is it the animal’s owner, or the University?
It is possible that SMT members, Council members and the animal’s owner will all be liable.
Are injuries caused by animals on campus (registered or unregistered) covered by ACC?
Probably, but that’s for ACC to determine on a case by case basis.
Is it possible to make a case to the Vice-Chancellor for a psychological support animal?
Possibly, although it is determined on a case by case basis. An individual student or staff member’s preferences and needs will be balanced with those of others on campus, the operational business needs and other matters set out in the policy. If the animal is a disability support dog that is certified by one of the organisations listed in the policy then VC approval will not be required.
If it is possible to make a case for a psychological support animal, will a medical certificate from a GP, counsellor or psychologist suffice?
It will be determined on a case by case basis. A clear diagnosis is more compelling than a letter of support from a GP, as most pet owners could suggest their animal provides them with psychological support. Other potential methods of supporting a staff member’s wellbeing will also be taken into account.
Executive Director of Human Resources | Kaihautū Matua Pūmanawa Tangata