Service and Emotional Support Animal

SECTION I:        Introduction and Background

 

SUNY Oswego recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the broader category of “Emotional Support Animals” under the Fair Housing Act that provides physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities.  SUNY Oswego is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the College’s programs and activities.  SUNY Oswego is also committed to allowing Emotional Support Animals necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy campus housing.  These Policies explain the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of a Service Animal on campus, as well as requirements applicable to an individual's use of an Emotional Support Animal in campus housing.  

 

SECTION II:      Definitions

 

  1. Service Animal

A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.  The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.  Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks; alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds; pulling a wheelchair; assisting an individual during a seizure; alerting individuals to the presence of allergens; retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone; providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities; and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship does not constitute work or tasks for the purpose of this definition.  Species other than dogs, or in some cases, miniature horses, are not considered service animals for the purpose of this definition of a service animal.  

 

  1. Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

An emotional support animal is an animal that provides emotional or other support that ameliorates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability, and are necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy college housing.  Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not required to be trained to perform work or tasks and they include species other than dogs and miniature horses. 

 

Emotional support animals are generally not allowed to accompany persons with disabilities in all public areas of SUNY Oswego as a service animal is allowed to do, but an emotional support animal may reside in college housing and are generally not permitted in any area other than the student’s room. 

 

SECTION III:     Policy on Service Animals 

 

Service animals will be permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of SUNY Oswego’s facilities where students, members of the public, and other participants in services, programs, or activities are allowed to go, including college housing.  SUNY Oswego does not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.  Individuals accompanied by a service animal on campus, but who do not need any disability accommodations are not required to register with Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) office, nor is such individual required to submit a request for reasonable accommodation to receive access of their service animal. Service animals in college housing, however, must be registered with Residence Life & Housing and the student must complete an Animal Registration & Agreement form for Service and Emotional Support Animals (which will require up-to-date health and vaccination records).  Students are requested to complete the Animal Registration & Agreement form prior to occupancy.  

 

Service animals  must be housebroken (i.e. trained so that it controls waste elimination absent illness or accident) and must be kept under control by a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the person is unable to hold those or such use would interfere with the service animal’s performance of work or tasks.  In such instances, the service animal must be kept under control by voice, signals, or other effective means. 

 

SUNY Oswego will assess the request for miniature horses by people with disabilities on a case-by case basis and consistent with applicable laws.  SUNY Oswego will make modifications in its policies to permit their use if they meet certain criteria and have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of people with disabilities.  Requests by students should be submitted to the Office of Accessibility Resources; requests by faculty/staff should be submitted to Human Resources.   

 

  1. Inquiries Regarding Service Animals    

SUNY Oswego will not ask about the nature or the extent of a person’s disability to determine whether a person’s dog qualifies as a service animal.  However, when it is not readily apparent, SUNY Oswego staff may make two inquiries to determine whether the dog qualifies as a service animal, which are:

  • Is the dog required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

 

  1. Responsibilities of Handlers
    1. Service Animal Control Requirements
      1. The animal should be on a leash when not providing a needed service to the person with a disability.
      2. The animal should respond to voice or hand commands at all times, and be in full control of the handler.
      3. To the extent possible, the animal should be unobtrusive to other individuals and the learning, living, and working environment.
      4. Identification – It is recommended that the animal wear some type of commonly recognized identification symbol, identifying the animal as a working animal, but not disclosing the disability. 

 

  1. Animal Etiquette

 To the extent possible, the handler should ensure that the animal does not:

  1. Sniff people, restaurant tables or the personal belongings of others.
  2. Display any behaviors or noises that are disruptive to others, unless part of the service being provided to the handler.
  3. Block an aisle or passageway for fire egress.

 

  1. Waste Cleanup Rule
    1. Cleaning up after the animal is the sole responsibility of the handler.  In the event that the handler is not physically able to clean up after the animal, it is then the responsibility of the handler to hire someone capable of cleaning up after the animal. 

The person cleaning up after the animal should abide by the following guidelines:

  1. Always carry equipment sufficient to clean up the animal’s feces whenever the animal is on campus
  2. Properly dispose of waste and/or litter in appropriate containers iii. Contact staff if arrangements are needed to assist with cleanup.  Any cost incurred for doing so is the sole responsibility of the handler. 

 

  1. Service Animals for on-campus residents
    1. Notifying Residence Life & Housing
      1. Students with service animals in college housing must register with Residence Life &

Housing and complete an Animal Registration & Agreement form for Service and Emotional Support Animals which will require up-to-date health and vaccination record and a photo of the animal.  Students are requested to complete the Agreement prior to occupancy.  

 

  1. Removal of Service Animals

Service animals may be ordered removed by University Police for the following reasons:

  1. Out of control animal:  A handler may be directed to remove an animal that is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it.  If the improper animal behavior happens repeatedly, the handler may be prohibited from bringing the animal into any

college facility until the handler can demonstrate that they have taken significant steps to mitigate the behavior. 

 

  1. Non-housebroken animal:  A handler may be directed to remove an animal that is not housebroken.

 

  1. Direct Threat:  A handler may be directed to remove an animal that SUNY Oswego determines to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of individuals.  This may occur as a result of a very ill animal, a substantial lack of cleanliness of the animal, or the presence of an animal in a sensitive area like a medical facility, certain laboratories or mechanical or industrial areas. 

 

When a service animal is properly removed pursuant to this policy, SUNY Oswego will work with the handler to determine reasonable alternative opportunities to participate in the service, program, or activity without having the service animal on the premises. 

 

  1. Conflicting Disabilities
    1. Some people may have allergic reactions to animals that are substantial enough to qualify as disabilities.  SUNY Oswego will consider the needs of both persons in meeting its obligations to reasonably accommodate all disabilities and to resolve the problem as efficiently and expeditiously as possible.  Students requesting allergy accommodations should contact the Office of Accessibility Resources, staff should contact Human Resources.  

 

  1. Emergency Response
    1. University Police will be notified of the location of service animals who reside on campus in the event of an emergency.  

 

  1. Public Etiquette towards Service or Assistance Animals
    1. It is okay to ask someone if they would like assistance if there seems to be confusion, however, faculty, staff, students and visitors/members of the general public should avoid the following:
      1. Petting a service animal, as it may distract them from the task at hand 
      2. Feeding a service animal
      3. Deliberately startling a service animal
      4. Separating or attempting to separate a handler from their service animal

 

SECTION IV:     Policy on Emotional Support Animals in College Housing

 

Residence Life & Housing will allow an emotional support animal if certain conditions are met.  The animal must be necessary for a resident with a disability to have equal access to housing and the accommodation must also be reasonable.  An accommodation is unreasonable if it presents an undue financial or administrative burden on the College, poses a substantial and direct threat to personal or public safety or constitutes a fundamental alteration of the nature of the service or program.

 

With advance approval, a person with a disability may have an emotional support animal in their residence hall room as a reasonable accommodation. 

 

  1. Requests for emotional support animals in residence hall

Students requesting an emotional support animal in college housing must complete a                   three-step interactive process:

  1. Indicate a special needs request (specifically an emotional support animal) on the housing application when applying for housing, annually, in advance of the start of the academic year or term
  2. Seek approval for ESA by submitting documentation of a disability to the Office of Accessibility Resources and discussing with OAR staff 
  3. Complete the Animal Registration & Agreement Form for Service and Emotional Support Animals in Residence Life & Housing annually, and  submit a picture of the animal and animal health records (with up-to-date vaccinations and veterinary contact information)

 

  1. Documentation guidelines for Emotional Support Animal in Residence Halls
    1. Documentation must be submitted to the Office of Accessibility Resources
    2. Documentation must be on letterhead from a licensed mental health provider (e.g. licensed mental health counselor, licensed clinical social worker, licensed marriage & family therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist) who has can validate the existence of an established relationship with the student
    3. Licensed mental health provider must be from New York state or from the state of the student’s permanent residence.  Documentation from online providers will not be accepted.
    4. Documentation must include diagnosis, and specific reasons that an emotional support animal is necessary (i.e. a nexus between the accommodation and the disability)  

 

  1. Timing of Request
    1. In order to adequately process a request for an emotional support animal, students are recommended to begin the process at least 60 days prior to the start of the semester.  Requests initiated during the semester will be considered for the start of the following semester.  

 

  1. Conflicting disabilities
    1. Some people may have allergic reactions to animals that are substantial enough to qualify as disabilities.  SUNY Oswego will consider the needs of both persons in meeting its obligations to reasonably accommodate all disabilities and to resolve the problem as efficiently and expeditiously as possible.  Students requesting allergy accommodations should contact the Office of Accessibility Resources.   

 

 

  1. Compliance with state and local animal laws
    1. Animals that are not allowed as pets in New York state, or in the Town of Oswego are not allowed as Emotional Support Animals.

 

  1. Process once approved by the Office of Accessibility Resources
    1. Residence Life & Housing will notify roommate(s), and other residents as appropriate
    2. Residence Life & Housing will address residents’ concerns related to the emotional support animal
    3. Emotional support animals may not enter the residence hall until the Animal Registration and Agreement form is approved by the Assistant Vice President for Residence Life & Housing.

 

  1. Expectations for animal care and control
    1. Student is expected to provide daily and necessary care of the emotional support animal to include bathing, feeding and managing waste.   
    2. Student is expected to minimize any disruption to the living/learning environment caused by animal odors or noises.
    3. If student needs to take animal outside for waste elimination, student is expected to keep animal on a leash and in control at all times. 
    4. If student leaves campus for extended period of time (that would impact the care of the animal), they are expected to take the animal with them.  

 

  1. Removing an emotional support animal
    1. If concerns regarding the animal are reported to Residence Life & Housing, the student will be contacted within 24 hours and given the opportunity to address the concerns and or situation.  
    2. If SUNY Oswego determines the animal to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of others, the Agreement may be revoked and University Police may order the animal to be removed from campus.   This may occur as a result of a very ill animal or a substantial lack of cleanliness of the animal.  
    3. In addition, failure to comply with expectations for direct care of the animal may also result in the Agreement being revoked. If this occurs, student will be given written notice to remove the animal within 10 days.  

 

SECTION V:    Appeals and Grievances

 

The College has adopted an internal grievance procedure for the provision of prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging discrimination.  Individuals with a disability at the College, who consider themselves victims of discrimination based on a disability, may file a grievance with the Human Resources.  Procedures for students wishing to file a discrimination grievance are identified in the Student Handbook, section on Disabilities Accommodations.  Additionally, procedures for employees and/or students wishing to file a complaint may also be obtained from the Human Resources.  Human Resources shall receive any complaint of alleged discrimination, shall assist the complainant in defining the charge, and shall provide the complainant with information regarding the options for filing internal complaints or external complaints through the federal Office of Civil Rights and/or the New York State Division of Human Rights.

 

Questions or concerns regarding policy, services, or allegations of noncompliance should be directed to the designated campus contact:  

  • Dr. Starr Wheeler, Coordinator of Accessibility Resources and the ADA/504 Coordinator,

155 Marano Campus Center, 315-312-3358, starr.wheeler@oswego.edu

  • Amy Plotner, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, 410 Culkin Hall, 315-312-2215, amy.plotner@oswego.edu