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Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

Service Animals

A "service animal" means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the person's disability. The 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.

Service animals will be permitted to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of Geneseo’s facilities. Geneseo 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-related accommodations are not required to register with the Office of Accessibility Services, nor is such individual required to submit a request for a reasonable accommodation to receive access of his or her service animal, including use of the service animal in the residential halls.

Geneseo cannot ask about the nature or extent of a person's disability to determine whether a person's animal qualifies as a service animal. However, when it is not apparent that a dog is a service animal, staff may make two inquiries to determine whether the dog qualifies as a service animal, which are:

(1) Is the dog required because of a disability?

(2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

A service animal must be housebroken (i.e., trained so that it controls its waste elimination, absent illness or accident) and must be kept under control by a harness, leash, or other tether. Geneseo will assess requests for the use of miniature horses by people with disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Requests should be submitted to the Office of Accessibility Services and, consistent with applicable laws, Geneseo may 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.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

An “emotional support animal" (or comfort animal) is an animal that provides emotional or other support that ameliorates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. Unlike service animals, support animals are not required to be trained to perform work or tasks, and they include species other than dogs and miniature horses.

ESA are generally not allowed to accompany persons with disabilities in all public areas of Geneseo as a service animal is allowed to do, but an ESA may reside in the Residence Halls when it may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing. 

Requesting an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

  1. Complete the ESA Request Form and submit to the Office of Accessibility Services (do not submit a Housing Accommodation Request Form). Forms may be submitted via email, fax, or mail.
    1. The ESA form must be completed by a qualified, licensed mental health provider who has a history of working with the student and can attest to the student’s current functioning in the college environment. Falsified ESA letters or documentation from illegitimate providers, or from providers who do not have a history of working with the student will not be accepted. It is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct to submit a falsified ESA letter.
  2. Participate in an intake meeting with the Assistant Dean of Accessibility. All appointments during the 2020-2021 semester will be conducted via phone or virtually.
  3. OAS may require additional documentation from a mental health provider or other mental health professional, to provide sufficient information for Geneseo to determine: 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 that the ESA may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy Residential living.

ESA Request Form Digital Version

ESA Request Form Print Version

Please Note: Students may not have an ESA in their residential hall unless approved by the Office of Accessibility Services and the Office of Residence Life. Students are limited to one ESA per student. Please refer to the Office of Residence Life website for more information on policies and procedures related to Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Office of Accessibility Services
SUNY Geneseo
1 College Circle, Erwin 22
Geneseo, New York, 14454

Fax (585) 245-5091
Phone (585) 245-5112 


A "pet" is any animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. Service animals and Emotional Support Animals are not considered pets. Pets are generally prohibited indoors on the Geneseo campus.