Emotional Support and Service Animals

Students who would like to bring a service or emotional support animal to live on campus is subject to the definitions and regulations of the recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act (FHAct), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974.

Service Animals

The ADA defines a service animal as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Examples of such work or tasks include:

  • guiding people who are blind
  • alerting people who are deaf
  • pulling a wheelchair
  • alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
  • reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications
  • calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack\
  • or performing other duties.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA (ADA 201 Revised Requirements, US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section). ADA provides a separate provision regarding miniature horses.

Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Emotional Support Animals

An “emotional support animal” (“ESA”) is an animal that provides comfort to an individual with a disability upon the recommendation of a healthcare or mental health professional. An emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living but rather its role is to live with a student and alleviate the symptoms of an individual’s disability.

Service and Emotional Support Animals in University Housing

Service and emotional support animals may not reside in Oswego State University housing without express written approval of University officials.

Service Animals

If it is readily apparent that the individual has a disability and that the animal is a service animal, no further information will be requested. If it is not readily apparent that the animal is a "service animal" such request should be processed as follows:

  1. A student requesting to live with a service animal should to provide Accessibility Resources with as much advance notice as possible.
  2. An individual may be asked if the service animal is required because of a disability and to explain the work or task that the animal has been trained to perform. The animal will not be required to demonstrate this task and no documentation will be required.

Emotional Support Animals

A student requesting an emotional support animal should provide Accessibility Resources with as much advance notice as possible. A student is not permitted to live with an emotional support animal until expressly approved to do so by both Accessibility Resources and the Residential Life and Housing Office.

  1. The student should provide a signed letter, on professional letterhead, from the person's physical or mental healthcare licensed provider or therapist. The provider or therapist should be familiar with the professional literature concerning the assistive and/or therapeutic benefits of assistance animals for people with disabilities. At a minimum, the letter should include the following items:
    The provider's professional opinion that the individual's condition qualifies as a disability and the basis for that opinion.
    The provider's opinion that the emotional support animal is required to help alleviate symptoms associated with the person's disability to allow the person use and enjoy University housing services.
    A description of the comfort or assistance that the animal will provide.

  2. Accessibility Resources will review documentation and, if the staff determines a qualifying disability exists, it will forward a recommendation to the Residence Life and Housing Office.
  3. The student must complete the Emotional Support Animal registration form and provide all requested documentation to Residence Life and Housing prior to taking occupancy with the emotional support animal.
  4. A Housing Office staff member will meet with the student requesting that an emotional support animal be housed in University housing. This policy will be carefully reviewed with the person at that time.
Conflicting Disabilities

The Oswego State University Residence Life and Housing Office will make a reasonable effort to notify students in the residence hall where the animal will be located and of the existence of a service or emotional support animal in the building.

Students with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (respiratory disease, asthma, severe allergies) should contact Accessibility Resources and Residence Life and Housing if they have a health or safety –related concern about exposure to a service or emotional support animal. The individual will be asked to provide medical documentation that identifies the condition(s), and will allow determination to be made as to whether the condition is disabling and whether there is a need for an accommodation.

Resolving Conflict

The Residence Life and Housing Office in conjunction with Accessibility Resources will resolve any conflict in a timely manner, considering the conflicting needs and/or accommodations of all persons involved.

In the event an agreement cannot be reached, the final decision will be made by the Affirmative Action Officer.