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Emotional Support Animal Policy

SUNY Geneseo has a no-pet policy in all of its residence halls.  Exceptions are made for service and emotional support animals according to the guidelines outlined below.

Definitions

Service Animals 
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a “service animal” as any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. 

Support Animals 
A “Support Animal” is a pet that is owned by an individual with a disability.  The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 protects the right of people with disabilities to keep animals for emotional support, even when there is a general “no pets allowed” policy. 

Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Emotional Support Animals

Students who reside on College property and who wish to bring emotional support animals on campus must first request the College’s permission to keep the emotional support animal in College housing.  Such requests should be directed to the College’s Office of Accessibility Services.

With advanced approval, a student with a disability may have an emotional support animal in their residence hall room as a justifiable reasonable accommodation. Students may not have an emotional support animal present in the residential halls unless their request has been approved. 

A. Requests for emotional support animals must include documentation from a third-party professional (i.e. physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker) who has provided treatment to the student for the disability via the ESA Request form. The ESA Request form will outline the following:  

  1. Evidence of the disability and the DSM or medical diagnosis from a licensed professional related to the use of a support animal. This includes:
    1. the dates of treatment and the date at which the diagnosis was first made;
    2.  the symptoms for which treatment was needed; 
    3.  treatments other than use of a support animal that have been used for symptom reduction; and
    4. the date on which the use of a support animal was prescribed. 
    5. Evidence of the connection between the diagnosis/symptoms and the use of the support animal to treat or manage those symptoms. 
    6. Evidence that the student will not be able to use and enjoy the residence halls/apartments or to participate in the services or programs if the support animal is not allowed. 
  2. The request must include a physical description of the animal, including height and weight, and confirmation that the animal is housebroken or confined such that housebreaking is not necessary (e.g., fish in a fishbowl).
  3. One emotional support animal per student will be authorized, unless the requestor provides sufficient documentation that outlines the necessity of more than one emotional support animal. The approval of more than one emotional support animal is not guaranteed.
  4. Only completed ESA Request Forms will be accepted. No other forms of documentation from a third-party provider will be accepted. If you have questions or concerns pertaining to the form or are experiencing issues related to access to a healthcare provider, contact the Office of Accessibility Services directly. 

B. For all requests for emotional support animals, the Office of Accessibility Services shall determine on a case-by-case basis, whether the evidence presented warrants such an accommodation and, in consultation with the Office of Residence Life, whether the presence of an emotional support animal is realistically feasible.

C. The individual must provide written consent for Accessibility Services to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the emotional support animal to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the emotional support animal including, but not limited to, Residence Life personnel and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s).  Such information shall be limited to information related to the emotional support animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability. 

D. Emotional support animal accommodation approvals are valid though the entirety of a student's time in on-campus housing unless explicitly stated otherwise by Accessibility Services. If there is a conditional approval and re-application is necessary, the student must submit an updated Emotional Support Animal Request Form completed by the student and their treatment provider. Students must also provide any necessary updated vaccination information on the animal.

E. The emotional support animal will only be allowed in the individual owner’s residence hall room and not in other rooms or buildings on campus.  

Criteria in Determining Authorization to House Emotional Support Animals

Specific factors the College may consider as evidence in determining whether the presence of the specific animal is reasonable or in the assignment of housing arrangements for individuals with emotional support animals include, but are not limited to: 

  1. the size of the animal is too large for available assigned housing space;
  2. the animal's presence would force another individual from an already assigned room, suite or apartment (e.g. allergic reaction or other medical conditions);
  3. the animal's presence otherwise violates individuals' right to peace and quiet, is not housebroken, or is unable to live with others in a reasonable manner;
  4. the animal's vaccinations are not up-to-date; 
  5. the animal poses or has posed a direct threat to others such as aggressive behavior, or injuring the individual or others;
  6. the animal poses health risks from zoonotic diseases or safety concerns regarding containment that cannot be sufficiently mitigated for inclusion in a communal living setting; 
  7. the animal causes or has caused excessive damage to housing beyond reasonable wear and tear; and 
  8. there is no established relationship with a qualified provider. 
  9. the proper equipment to care for the animal has not been obtained by the requestor. 

A statement from a qualified veterinarian that the animal has received all appropriate vaccinations, is in generally good health, and can appropriately reside in a residence life environment without detriment to its health may be requested by the college to help determine the aforementioned factors. 

Requirements of Owners of Emotional Support Animals

Individuals with disabilities using emotional support animals are responsible for their animals at all times and must comply with the following requirements:

  • No emotional support animal is allowed to move into a residence hall prior to its owner receiving permission from the College. 
  • The owner is responsible for the health and safety of their emotional support animal at all times.
  • The presence of the emotional support animal shall not constitute a direct threat to the health and safety of others. 
  • The emotional support animal is permitted in College housing only as long as it is necessary as an approved personal accommodation.  The owner must notify Accessibility Services in writing if the emotional support animal is no longer needed or is no longer in residence.  To substitute one emotional support animal for another, the owner must first contact the Office of Residential Life for approval.
  • When an emotional support animal is outside the private individual living accommodations, it must be in an animal carrier or controlled by a leash or harness.  Emotional support animals are not allowed in any College facilities other than College residence halls.
  • Emotional support animals may not be left overnight in College housing in the care of any individual other than the owner. If the owner is to be absent from their residence hall overnight or longer, the emotional support animal must accompany the owner. 
  • Residents’ emotional support animals must be removed from the residence halls when halls close for College scheduled breaks and holidays.
  • Arrangements must be made and on file with the Department of Residence Life in regards to the removal of the emotional support animal in the event of an emergency evacuation or evacuation drill that may occur when the owner is not present.  The College is not responsible for the emergency evacuation of residents’ emotional support animals.
  • The student is responsible for ensuring that the emotional support animal is contained, as appropriate, when the owner is not present during the day while attending classes or other activities. 
  • Emotional support animals are expected to meet the same standards as other residents and their guest related to behavior and respect for quiet hours within the residence halls. 
  • The bathing of emotional support animals in College restrooms, or other uses of College restrooms by emotional support animals is prohibited.
  • The College strongly recommends that all emotional support animals be spayed, neutered or de-scented as appropriate to the species.  
  • The owner’s residence may be inspected for fleas, ticks, or other pests as needed. The Department of Residence Life will schedule the inspection.  If fleas, ticks or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods and other College-approved pest control measures.  The owner will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment.  Repeat instances of required fumigation could be grounds to remove the animal from the residence hall.
  • In order for maintenance staff to complete work orders without disturbing or being disturbed by an emotional support animal, a crate is required in the room that the emotional support animal can be placed in while the work is being completed. 
  • SUNY Geneseo personnel shall not be required to provide care or food for any emotional support animal including, but not limited to, removing the animal during emergency evacuation for events such as a fire alarm. Emergency personnel will determine whether to remove the emotional support animal and may not be held responsible for the care, damage to, or loss of the emotional support animal.
  • The individual must provide written consent for Accessibility Services to disclose information regarding the request for and presence of the emotional support animal to those individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the emotional support animal including, but not limited to, Residence Life personnel and potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s). Such information shall be limited to information related to the emotional support animal and shall not include information related to the individual’s disability. 

Removal of an Emotional Support Animal

The College may require the immediate removal of an emotional support animal from College housing if:  

  1. the emotional support animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices, procedures, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services, or causes substantial property damage to the property of others; 
  2. the emotional support animal’s owner does not comply with the owner’s responsibilities set forth above; 
  3. the emotional support animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference with the normal operations of the College community. 

The College will base such determinations upon the consideration of the behavior of the particular emotional support animal at issue, and not on speculation or fear about the harm or damages an emotional support animal may cause.

Application Process for an Emotional Support Animal Request

Students wishing to submit a request for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in the residential halls must participate in the interactive application process with the Office of Accessibility Services, including submission of the ESA Request Form and meeting with the Assistant Dean for Accessibility. 

The ESA form must be completed by a qualified, licensed medical or mental health provider who has an established patient relationship with the student and can attest to the student’s current functioning in the college environment. ESA letters or documentation from unqualified providers, or those without a history of treating the student will not be accepted. The Office of Accessibility may require additional documentation from a medical or mental health provider to provide sufficient information for Geneseo to determine: 

  1. That the individual qualifies as a person with a disability (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities); and 
  2. That the ESA may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Residential living.

Students will be notified of a decision within 15 business days. If an ESA is approved, students must be prepared to meet the Office of Residence Life guidelines regarding ESAs.  Students may not have an ESA in their residential hall unless approved by the Office of Accessibility Services and the Office of Residence Life. If students are found to have a non-approved animal in the Residence Halls, it is a violation to the Student Code of Conduct and the animal must be removed within 24 hours. More information on Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in the Residential Halls can be found on the Office of Residence Life webpage

Process for Appealing Determinations

Students reserve the right to file internal and external appeals or grievances. Please refer to the Office of Accessibility web page on Appeals or Grievances. Students may contact the Office of Accessibility Services with questions regarding the Emotional Support Animal Policy via email at access@geneseo.edu, or calling 585-245-5091. 

Summary of Requirements of Owners of Emotional Support Animals

As a student with an approved emotional support animal, I agree to the following terms:

  1. I certify that I have a documented disability and that my emotional support animal is needed to assist me.
  2. I will be responsible for the health and safety of my emotional support animal at all times.
  3. I will provide my emotional support animal with appropriate care, including providing food, water, consistent exercise and a clean environment.
  4. I will not allow my emotional support animal to enter any room/suite/apartment/building other than the one that has been assigned to me at any time or for any reason.
  5. I will keep my emotional support animal on a leash or harness or in a cage at all times except when in my room.
  6. I will keep my emotional support animal under my control at all times.
  7. If my emotional support animal becomes a prolonged nuisance to other students or staff in any way, I agree to remove my emotional support animal from the residence halls.
  8. I agree to have my residence hall room inspected for fleas, ticks, or other pests at least once per semester, or more often as needed.  If the Residence Life staff determines that my living space is not being cleaned appropriately or damage is being done by my emotional support animal, I agree to remove my emotional support animal from the campus.
  9. I agree to pay any and all costs for the need for pest control resulting from the presence of my emotional support animal, including removal of any smells or odors, or for any damage my emotional support animal may cause to College facilities.
  10. I agree to immediately pick up and properly dispose of any of my emotional support animal’s waste.  Waste must be immediately placed in proper containers outside of the residence halls.
  11. I will not allow any other non-approved animals to reside in my room/suite/apartment/building at any time for any reason.
  12. I understand that my emotional support animal is not not a pet, and will ask other students not to pet, rub or otherwise make contact with my emotional support animal for their own personal reasons.
  13. I agree to make arrangements for the evacuation of my emotional support animal when I am not present in my residence hall room, including in the case of a personal emergency, and to submit those arrangements to the Department of Residence Life.
  14. I agree to take my emotional support animal with me when I leave my room overnight, or for any and all vacations or breaks.
  15. I will notify the College immediately if my emotional support animal is no longer needed or is no longer residing with me.

I have read and understand the Emotional Support Animal Policy and Agreement and I agree to abide by the requirements applicable to Emotional Support Animals.  I understand that if I fail to meet the requirements set forth in the Policy, SUNY Geneseo has the right to remove the emotional support animal and I will be nonetheless required to fulfill my housing, academic, and all other obligations for the remainder of the housing agreement. 

I furthermore give permission to Accessibility Services to disclose to others impacted by the presence of my emotional support animal (e.g., Residence Life staff, potential and/or actual roommate(s)/neighbor(s)) that I will be living with an animal as an accommodation.  I understand that this information will be shared with the intent of preparing for the presence of the emotional support animal and/or resolving any potential issues associated with the presence of the emotional support animal. 

I further recognize that the presence of the emotional support animal may be noticed by others visiting or residing in College housing and agree that staff may acknowledge the presence of the animal, and explain that under certain circumstances emotional support animals are permitted for persons with disabilities.